Does Chai Tea Have Caffeine? What You Need to Know
Chai tea is a hot beverage that is steeped in history. It originated in India and is traditionally made up of a black tea base and spices. However, today chai tea is more often known for the Indian spices that characterize its flavour rather than its traditional preparation. This has led to the rise of syrups and concretes which make determining caffeine content in chai tea less than straightforward.
Chai spices include cinnamon, cardamom pods, ginger, cloves, star anise, fennel, nutmeg or black pepper. However, these spices alone do not contribute to the caffeine content of a cup of tea. The caffeine content of chai tea is determined by its "tea base". So, does chai tea have caffeine? The answer is yes, but there are some variables to consider.
How Much Caffeine Does Chai Have?
Traditionally chai tea is made with a black tea base but today you can find varieties with rooibos, green tea or a great number of other blends. The level of caffeine is dependant on the tea base since chai spices do not contain caffeine.
A traditional cup of masala chai tea with black tea will contain between 30 to 70 milligrams of caffeine per eight-ounce serving. A chai green tea will contain slightly less caffeine at 35 to 45 milligrams per eight-ounce serving. While rooibos tea and other herbal teas are naturally caffeine-free.
Compare this to the 95 to 200 milligrams that coffee contains and you'll soon realize that drinking tea is a great way to get an energy boost without the negative effects of coffee. Green tea and black tea both contain tannins which help the body absorb caffeine at a much slower rate, which will help you get a boost without the coffee jitters.
Today, chai comes in many more forms than its traditional loose leaf tea version. Chai flavored syrup which is often used in coffee shops will contain no caffeine. Whereas, a powder or chai tea concentrate will contain slightly less caffeine than a cup of freshly steeped chai tea.
If you want to have more control over how much caffeine is in your chai teas, then prepare it at home.
How to Control How Much Caffeine Is in Your Cup of Chai Tea
The way you prepare your cuppa can impact how much caffeine is in your chai tea. Consider the following if you are particular about your caffeine kick. Whether you like high or low levels of caffeine in your chai teas, these tips will help you brew a perfect cup.
- Broken vs. whole leaves: Broken tea leaves such as those found in most tea bags will often transfer more caffeine, than whole tea leaves. Loose-leaf teas like those from Clearview tea, tend to be higher quality and to contain whole leaf or partially cut tea leaves.
- Chai tea concentrate vs. syrup: As we mentioned previously, syrups will not contain caffeine while chai tea concentrate will contain slightly less than brewed tea. Choose chai tea alternatives according to your caffeine preferences.
- Steeping time: The longer you steep your tea, the more caffeine will be released. But, keep in mind that broken leaves like those in tea bags will brew faster than whole leaves.
- Tea measurements: The amount of tea you add to your cup will determine how much caffeine is released. You can not measure the amount of tea per tea bag, so it will have a more consistent amount of caffeine per cup.
- Water temperature: When brewing your typical cup of tea, higher temperature water will encourage the caffeine to release faster than more temperate waters.
- Where the tea leaves originated: Caffeine levels can differ slightly from one plant or tea plantation to the next. For example, the same tea plant which is grown in a shaded spot will have more caffeine than those grown in direct sunlight. Likewise, younger tea leaves tend to have higher levels of caffeine than older plants.
Drinking tea is a ritual for many of us, make your chai tea completely your own by controlling how much caffeine is your cup.
The History of Chai Tea
The traditional type of chai tea is "masala chai". It comes from the Hindu words "masala" which means "spiced" and the word "chai" which means tea. Before black tea became widespread in India, masala chai would have been prepared as herbal tea without any caffeine.
Legend has it that the King, ordered an Ayurvedic drink as far back as 5000 to 9000 years ago to improve his health. The spices that were added to masala chai were all believed to have their own health benefits. For example, black pepper and ginger were thought to be good for digestion, cloves were an important Ayurvedic ingredient renowned for pain relief and as an immune booster, and more.
It was not until the mid-1800s that warm milk, black tea, and sugar were added to chai tea. Therefore adding caffeine for the first time to this spiced tea. This was during the British colonization of India. At that time, China was the largest producer of tea in the world but Britain wanted more control over the world's supply of black tea.
When they discovered black tea in Assam in India, they cultivated and encouraged its growth. Black tea became widespread throughout India and the colonial empire for consumption and chai tea became an amalgamation of the traditional chai recipe which was beloved by locals with British ways of drinking tea (adding black tea, milk and sugar).
In India, traditional chai often contains buffalo milk since the large majority of the population is Hindu and they do not drink cow's milk. However, it can be made with any type of milk including soy milk for people who are lactose intolerant or vegan. As well as with flavored milk or skim milk. Just ask your local barista!
In the 1990's chai become widespread across North America. Prior to that, it rose in prominence between the 1940s to 1970s, in Indian restaurants and as Eastern culture was explored by more North Americas. Today, you can find people drinking chai tea at home and chai lattes in cafes across North America.
More often than not a chai latte is what people order at cafes. A chai tea latte takes a slight twist on the traditional recipe by adding steamed milk with chai concentrate or syrup. Whereas, traditional chai tea is made by simmering the ingredients over a stovetop. Ask your barista about the caffeine levels in their chai lattes. If they don't contain any or you would like more you can ask for a "dirty" chai tea latte which is a latte with a shot of espresso in it.
Chai Tea Health Benefits
From its earliest days, chai tea has boasted unique health benefits. Science has confirmed that many of the ingredients including black tea, cinnamon, cloves and cardamon are high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Ingredients like fresh ginger and cardamom support good digestion since they contain natural digestive enzymes, while the caffeine in black tea is proven to be a stimulant. Cardamom has high levels of vitamin C which is an immune-boosting vitamin.
There is some evidence that the ingredients can help tea drinkers lose weight, regulate high blood pressure or maintain good heart health but nothing is conclusive about these health benefits. If you are anything like us, a regular cup of tea is a ritual for you and a hot cup of chai can calm the nervous system — so sit back and enjoy it!
Types of Chai Tea and Their Caffeine Content
Clearview carries chai tea to support anyone's caffeine goals. Enjoy a cup of chai from Clearview Tea.
This classic loose leaf blend contains black tea and chai spices. Make it into a chai latte or enjoy it as a traditional cup of chai tea by adding warm water or milk.
Anyone who wants to regulate their caffeine intake will like this herbal tea blend. It contains your favourite chai spices with a nutty caffeine-free rooibos base. One cup and you will be hooked.
This spicy tea contains golden turmeric slices and chilli, alongside traditional spices of cardamon, star anise, black pepper and more. It elevates your traditional cup of chai tea.
How to Make Chai with Loose Leaf Tea
It is easy to make a cup of chai with loose leaf chai tea. Rather than collecting and paying for all the individual ingredients, you can save money and trust that the ingredients are properly measured, mixed and of high quality when you choose a loose leaf chai tea mixture from a reputable company.
If you drink your chai with water. Then simply boil water (at approximately 212 Fahrenheit) and pour the hot water over your loose leaf mixture. You will get a strong cup of caramel-coloured tea. Follow the tips to control your caffeine intake above.
If you drink your chai tea with milk. Then simply simmer the loose leaf mixture with a milk of your choice over low heat. Simmer for a maximum of 10 minutes and strain the mixture into a cup when you are ready. If you have a chai tea mixture that contains black tea don't let it simmer for too long or it will get bitter and the caffeine levels will spike. Add a sweetener of your choice to the cup of chai tea. Sugar, honey and maple syrup all work well.
Alternatively, you can heat the milk and pour it over your loose leaf mixture. If you want something more akin to a chai latte then froth the milk. It can also be made into an iced tea or iced chai latte by adding ice cubes.
Chai Tea at Home
Chai tea is a wonderful tradition, that we love bringing into our homes especially during the colder months. The spicy aroma and unique taste are something to share with family and friends. We hope you will come together around the kettle, enjoy a cup of chai tea and take pleasure in a quiet moment of reflection.
If you have any questions about chai tea or its caffeine content then reach out to our team to learn more or shop accessories to make brewing your chai tea at home easier than ever.