Does Chai Tea Have Caffeine 

Does Chai Tea Have Caffeine 

Veteran tea drinkers are familiar with the caffeine levels found in black and green teas. But for someone who is new to tea, or who wants to avoid caffeine, chai can be an enigma. 

So, does chai tea have caffeine? The short answer is, most likely. Keep reading to learn more. 

What Is Chai Tea? 

Chai is the word for “tea” in Hindi. The beverage itself varies across countries and cultures. In India, where the word originated, it’s intended to be a mix of hot tea with added spices (masala). There were medicinal and spiritual uses for chai in addition to its presence as a soothing and delicious drink. 

A Glass of Chai Tea

The Western world has shifted the meaning of chai somewhat over time. In the U.S., chai is a dessert-like refreshment that can contain any combination of black tea, spices, milk, and sweetening agents. A common “chai” order at major coffee retailers usually refers to a latte containing steamed milk and espresso. 

Some forms of chai tea show up on grocery store shelves in pre-mixed cartons. These sometimes contain syrup or other artificial components, which have come a long way since the origins of plain chai in the East.

Let’s take a look at what makes up a cup of chai. 

Components for a Great Cup of Chai Tea

Though its contents may shift from place to place, the essential elements of chai remain standardized. 

Chai Tea Leave Types

Black Tea

The base of any chai drink is black tea. This type of tea is the strongest and undergoes the most oxidation in the tea-making process. Producers harvest leaves from the Camellia Sinensis plant and expose them to the air for a certain amount of time before they are dried and stored. 

Herbs and Spices

This component of chai tea is probably where the most variation happens. Traditionally, chai uses a combination of warm and spicy ingredients. The most common are cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, and cloves. 

Some mixes prefer allspice, turmeric, anise, fennel, or peppercorns. What goes into chai changes according to where you drink it.  

Spices used in Preparation of Chai Tea 02


There are as many milky additives to chai as there are types of milk in the world. Dairy, goat’s milk and other animal byproducts are the earliest kinds of milk in chai according to history. But in the modern world, it’s common to substitute nut, coconut, or oat milk as well. 


Some Indian chai drinkers don’t add any sweetener at all. However, Westerners prefer drinks with more sugar content. Blends use raw granulated sugar or syrups, whereas loose-leaf tea drinkers might prefer syrup or another sweet additive. 

Honey tends to make a lovely pairing with the natural spices found in chai. Since it’s an intense and concentrated flavor, you don’t need as much of it as you do some other sugary items. 

Does Chai Tea Have Caffeine? 

Most types of chai include caffeine because they incorporate black tea. Though it’s not as much as the caffeine in coffee, there’s still a moderate amount per serving. 

Tea Preparation 

Preparation of Chai Tea

To prepare chai tea, use a medium-sized saucepan and boil filtered water. Add tea leaves according to how many servings you want, using a measurement of 1 tsp tea for every 8oz of water. Let the tea steep for 2-4 minutes, depending on how strong of a flavor you want. 

Next, mix in the milk and sweeteners to taste. This will differ based on culture and personal preferences. In place of milk, you may also use sweetened condensed milk, which will require less sugary additives. The spices will blend better the longer you can let the prepared tea simmer on the stovetop. 

Serve chai tea with breakfast or as an afternoon refreshment. It’s best to avoid it later in the day due to the caffeine it contains. 

Tea Type 

Different Types of Teas

Chai is a black tea beverage. It’s not the same if you brew it with green, white, or other types of tea leaves. Of course, there’s always room for diversion, and you’re welcome to experiment with your unique twist on chai. 

Traditionally, the tea that works best in chai recipes in Assam. This is a malty black tea from India that comes from the Camellia Sinensis var plant, indigenous to that part of the world. Assam is popular as one of the most hearty teas, with a rich and complex flavor. It’s strong compared to most other types of tea. 

If, for whatever reason, you can’t access Assam tea leaves, you can make chai with virtually any other black tea. The flavor additives that influence the nature of chai can sometimes obscure which black tea forms the base of the drink. 

Role of Tannins in Tea? 

When you brew tea, there is a chemical compound called tannin that emerges the longer the tea steeps. Tannins are bitter and dry in taste, which even the most weathered tea drinkers can find unpleasant. 

Though they provide some health benefits, like elastins that contribute to heart health, it’s important not to brew black tea longer than 4 minutes so the tannin release stays under control.

Caffeine in Chai Tea Compared to Coffee

Generally, black tea contains about half the caffeine of the same amount of coffee. In an 8 oz cup of coffee, there will be roughly 80-100mg of caffeine, whereas, in tea, there’s only around 30-50mg. 

Black tea is the most highly caffeinated tea, but if you’re concerned with the caffeine content in chai, you can still drink double the amount of liquid compared to coffee.  

What Is a Chai Latte and a Dirty Chai? 

A chai latte is a popular Western twist on the traditional chai beverage. It entails a powder or syrup mix that skips all the steps of crafting a chai tea the way it’s done in Asian countries. A pre-mixed chai solution might taste sweeter and less intense than a loose-leaf chai brew. 

Making a chai “dirty” is slang for adding a shot or two of espresso. This significantly changes both the taste and the caffeine content of your chai drink. A traditional chai tea and a dirty chai latte are almost two completely different sippers by the time you figure in tea types, additives, caffeine, and overall taste.

The idea of chai is a sweet tea drink. But according to the many ways chai has developed over past centuries, this is a broad term that can mean several different types of drinks. For example, if a loose-leaf tea aficionado visits a modern cafe and asks for a chai, they might be disappointed to find that their beverage is closer to a blended dessert than strong breakfast tea. 

Caffeine Content in Chai, Chai Lattes, and Dirty Chai? 

The caffeine content in true chai is somewhere close to 50mg per serving, or 8oz cup. When a chai mix blend substitutes for loose-leaf tea, it dilutes the caffeine content, but there is still usually some caffeine if there’s any black tea in the ingredient list at all. 

Chai lattes operate on a heavier balance of milk-to-tea ratio. However, they still include a little to moderate amount of caffeine. 

Dirty chai always goes heavier on caffeine because it incorporates espresso, a stronger form of coffee.  If you’re trying to go caffeine-free, ask for a traditional or decaf latte and certainly avoid the “dirty” version. 


Though there are many different ways to craft chai tea, most of them include caffeine. It’s about half the content of what you consume when drinking coffee, whether you use a loose-leaf base or pour from a pre-mixed carton.  

We hope you enjoyed the info about the caffeine content in chai. If you learned something, we encourage you to share this article with others you know who might be interested in the same topic. 

Please also give us your opinion in the comments below. Thanks for reading! 

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