Does Chai Latte Have Coffee?

Over the past few decades, chai latte has increasingly found its way into the menus of many popular coffee shops, including globally-recognized brands such as Starbucks. Its delightful, spicy taste and fragrant aroma make it easy to see why. In this blog, we go through the difference between chai latte and coffee, including a detailed insight into chai latte and its health benefits.

Chai latte has no coffee in it. Chai is a loose-leaf tea beverage. A chai latte is milk and a black tea blend served hot or chilled. However, chai latte does contain caffeine.

Is chai latte a coffee?

Despite being sold in many coffee shops across the globe, chai latte is not a coffee beverage, as it doesn’t contain coffee in any form. Instead, it’s made by mixing black tea, spices, and steamed milk.

Does Starbucks chai latte have coffee?

A typical Starbucks chai latte doesn’t contain any coffee. However, Starbucks offers customers beverage customizations that include adding a shot of espresso.

The common term for chai beverages containing a coffee shot is ‘dirty chai.’

The full ingredient list for a Starbucks chai latte includes 2% milk, water, chai tea concentrate, sugar, vanilla, honey, and an array of spices such as star anise and cardamom.

What is a chai latte?

The word ‘chai’ is Hindu for tea. Chai latte is a black tea-based drink. The beverage is made by mixing black tea with steamed milk and spices. These spices usually vary from one café to another and may include ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and cardamom.

While chai latte also contains caffeine, the caffeine content is usually more than 50% lower than what you’d get in a regular cup of coffee. This is because black tea doesn’t contain as much caffeine as coffee beans.

A typical chai latte cup will contain about 40mg of caffeine, compared to a whopping 120mg of caffeine for a similar-sized cup of coffee.

Additionally, chai lattes made using chai concentrates usually contain less caffeine compared to those made using spicy blends.

What is the difference between chai latte and coffee? Chai latte vs. coffee

Besides the obvious taste difference, chai latte and coffee have glaring differences. Here’s a summary of how the two beverages differ.

Chai latteCoffee
It has a low caffeine contentIt has a high caffeine content
It has a fragrant aromaIt has a strong aroma
Chai tea is not a diureticIt has a diuretic effect
Has stress-relieving effectsHas stress-enhancing effects

Caffeine Content

Typically, you’d need to drink about three cups of chai latte to get the same caffeine as you would in a single cup of coffee.

This makes chai latte a great option for those looking to avoid caffeine addiction.


While coffee typically has a strong aroma, chai latte boasts a fragrant aroma that’s arguably more floral and calming.

Diuretic effect

Since chai latte lacks any coffee content, it’s unlikely to make you feel like going for short calls often, as is the case with coffee beans. Caffeine in coffee has a dehydrating effect more prominent than in black tea.

Stress relief

Chai latte typically contains a blend of natural spices such as cinnamon and cardamom, which have stress-relieving properties.

On the other hand, coffee contains caffeine, which triggers the release of cortisol, a substance with stress-enhancing effects.

Does chai latte keep you awake?

Chai latte can help keep you awake since the key ingredient used in making it is black tea, which contains caffeine as a stimulant.

While the caffeine content in black tea may not be as much as that found in coffee, it’s still more than the amount found in green tea or instant, sweetened tea.

For instance, brewing eight ounces of black tea will produce between 25-48mg of caffeine, compared to 25-29mg and 95-165mg of caffeine from brewing the same amount of green tea and coffee, respectively.

Is chai latte healthier than coffee?

Chai latte is arguably healthier than coffee due to its lower caffeine content. While caffeine helps keep one awake, it can be addictive. By switching from coffee to chai latte, you can get the stimulating effects of caffeine without suffering the negative side effects, such as jittery feelings.

What’s more, chai latte has several other health benefits, which explains its original use as a medicinal beverage in ancient India.

Benefits of chai latte

Here are the benefits of taking chai latte;

1. Chai latte improves digestion

Ginger is a common ingredient in chai latte. It is a digestive booster. Ginger helps improve digestion by helping improve oxygen circulation.

Another common ingredient in a chai latte, black pepper,  helps speed-up digestion by triggering the pancreas to secrete digestive enzymes.

2. Chai latte might alleviate pain.

Two of the common chai latte ingredients, cloves, and ginger, are known to have anti-inflammatory properties. These two spices can help ease pains and aches, ranging from minor to severe pain such as migraines.

3. Chai latte might boost the immune system

Cardamom, another key ingredient in most modern chai latte recipes, is rich in vitamin C. Vitamin C is an immune system booster. Since the human body lost its ability to produce enough Vitamin C, we rely on external intake.

Cardamom is revered in Ayurvedic medicine as a mild diuretic and detoxifier.

4. Chai latte might help prevent chronic diseases.

 Some ingredients, such as cardamom, in chai tea, have more polyphenol antioxidants than most fruits, making this beverage a great cell health booster.

These antioxidants eliminate chronic disease-causing radicals. The spices responsible for the antioxidants include cloves and cinnamon, which can also help the body fight off bacterial and viral infections.

5. Chai latte boosts cardiovascular health. 

Black tea lowers cholesterol levels, minimizing the chances of high blood pressure. Cinnamon, another common ingredient in chai latte recipes, can also help to regulate blood sugar content, thereby helping to fight diabetes.

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