What is Dirty Chai?

what is dirty chai

Coffee and spices go well together. Tea and spices go well together. Coffee and tea go well together too. You probably know where this is going. Tea, coffee and spices, all together, go well together too. And that's exactly what this drink is about. Taking the best of each and blending them into a delicious and caffeine rich cuppa. What is Dirty ? A simple answer would be a creamy and warming cup of spiced black tea with a shot of espresso.

And a long one? Keep reading.

So, what's Dirty Chai?

Dirty chai, dirty chai tea or dirty chai latte is a drink that was invented by an accident. It's made with an Indian masala chai tea base and an Italian espresso coffee shot, all served in a latte style. A result? Creamy and frothy, spicy and strong, but sweet drink. Sometimes, this tea can be made from a tea concentrate, just like regular chai lattes. It's easy to make at home from a pre-made chai blend too.

Does Dirty Chai taste good?

Dirty Chai is a latte and not a traditional Indian , but this doesn't make it any less delicious. If you love flat white or cappuccino and spiced tea, you will love this latte too. At first, it may seem like a rather odd combination, but once you try it, you will want definitely to drink it again.

Does Dirty Chai have caffeine?

Dirty chai has more caffeine than a shot of espresso or a cup of chai latte. A shot of espresso will have approximately 60 mg of caffeine, although this will depend on many factors, such as how much coffee was used. A cup of chai tea could contain different amount of caffeine – from 30 or less to 60 or more milligrams. This will ultimately depend on the type of tea, amount of tea leaves and brewing technique.

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On average, you could expect around 100-150 mg of caffeine per one serving of Dirty Chai.

Unlike coffee, there are no standardized methods of making tea, at least not in western countries – a shot of espresso will always be made in a similar way from ground coffee, usually using coffee machines. Besides, there's no such thing as a coffee concentrate. And tea, tea can be made from a tea concentrate, tea bags, whole leaves, by simmering and steeping, or from instant tea powders.

Chai latte with espresso
© All That Tea

Does Dirty Chai have sugar?

Yes, Dirty Chai will usually contain sugar. Even if it's made without sugar, you will probably need some sweetener to balance the flavour. If you are making your own home-made Dirty Chai using a simmering method, adding some sugar is highly recommended. However, if you are making it by steeping a pre-made tea blend that brews into a mellow infusion and you are using medium roast coffee with little bitterness, you may not even need a sweetener. When making tea from a tea concentrate, check the label to see the sugar content.

Does Dirty Chai have alcohol?

No, Dirty Chai doesn't contain any alcohol. However, you could try adding brandy, whiskey or even a cream liqueur. If it blends well with spiced milk tea and it blends well with coffee with milk, it will blend well with a Dirty Chai, too.

Are Dirty Chai Lattes healthy?

Since Dirty Chai latte is made with the same ingredients as a regular coffee latte and regular spiced milk tea, it will have the same potential benefits as these drinks. However, keep in mind that it may contain a lot of sugar and it will provide quite a few calories from milk.

When making it at home, you can:

  • choose tea leaves and coffee beans you enjoy the most,
  • use milk with less fat (although whole milk is the best for lattes)
  • use less sugar or a calorie-free sugar alternative
  • control the caffeine content and flavour
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Where to buy Dirty Chai?

You can get Dirty Chai from some coffee shops, but usually only if you ask for it and if they serve both chai latte and espresso coffee. Ready-to-drink Dirty Chai is available too, although it's far from a common drink. Pre-made loose tea blends that contain both coffee, tea and spices are available too, and so is a chai latte flavoured instant coffee.

Depending on where you live, maybe the only way of trying it is if you make it yourself. So, make one at home?

How to make Dirty Chai?

To make this drink you will need to make two separate drinks – masala chai latte and a shot of espresso. The best way to make masala chai tea is by simmering spices and leaves in water and milk, but for making a Dirty Chai, making a chai latte from a chai concentrate or a pre-made chai blend is a preferred method.

Find out how to make a cup of masala chai tea here.

You can make an espresso using either an espresso machine, Moka pot or a Turkish style coffee pot. One shot of espresso usually equals 30 ml of coffee – strongly brewed.

Some ways of making Dirty Chai at home:

  • Make a chai latte using a pre-made tea blend and add a shot of espresso
  • Make a chai latte using a pre-made tea blend and add two shots of espresso
  • Make a proper chai by simmering spices and tea leaves in water and milk and add a shot of espresso – although technically this drink is not a latte anymore
  • Make a chai latte using a chai concentrate and add a shot of espresso
  • Or you could even use an instant chai mix, blend it with instant coffee and serve with frothed steamed milk – although this is far from an usual way

Get inspired – 7 ways of making chai at home.

Which coffee should I use?

The flavour of any drink will always depend on the flavour and quality of ingredients. Where possible, use freshly ground coffee. Espresso is usually made with stronger medium or dark roast coffee, but you can experiment with different coffee beans to find a perfect match. The best way to choose coffee or tea for making a latte is to choose types you like drinking on its own. Both milk and sugar will enhance the flavour of tea and coffee, but the idea is to get a well-balanced flavour and a good texture.

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Which tea should I use?

The best tea for making this latte is the same tea you would usually use for making a regular chai. CTC black tea blends, tea dust or teas with smaller broken leaves will release more flavour and caffeine than teas with whole long unbroken leaves. Coffee is a strong ingredient, so it's a good idea to use a strong tea too. Pre-made chai blends are a great option for making this tea latte fast – without simmering fresh spices.

Final Thoughts

What makes Dirty Chai dirty is not alcohol, but a shot of espresso instead. It's a high caffeine, tea, spices and coffee drink that's usually served in latte style, and is often quite sweet. Dirty Chai is not a common item on coffee shop's menus, but if you have a chance, definitely try it. It makes for a wonderful cup of morning tea-coffee latte – warming, spicy, creamy and strong.

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