Cozy and Warming Chai Tea Lattes for a Winter's Day

Snowy porch
Snow on our back deck, right before Thanksgiving!

My theory is, if it's not going to be sunny, it should at least be either warm, pouring down rain, or snowing. Dark, dreary, cold, and drizzling? No thanks! :)

This year, we got a nice dusting of snow before Thanksgiving. It lasted a few days, and the children especially loved playing in it! I liked just being able to open the shades/curtains and see a beautiful whiteness outside while I stayed in the house and sipped my hot tea. ;)

But, whether it's snowy right now where you live, or only cold and dreary (as most of the Seattle winter seems to be!), one of my favorite Winter luxuries is a hot fresh Chai Tea Latte!

Chai Tea Latte (like Starbucks!)

I've made from-scratch chai tea, and while it is delicious, sometimes I want something a little easier and, okay, I'll admit it... something that tastes a little more like Starbucks. ;) 

The "secret"? I use Celestial Seasonings India Spice Chai tea for the base. Add some organic sugar and cream, and this chai tea latte is deliciously similar to Starbucks Chai Tea Lattes. I would say exactly like but, tasted side-by-side, it is not exactly 100% like. Very, very close though!

Starbucks uses the Tazo brand chai tea concentrate, which can be purchased in the coffee and tea section of the grocery store. The concentrate does taste very much like the teabags used in this recipe, but when Joshua and I did side-by-side comparisons, we definitely preferred this recipe versus making chai from the Tazo concentrate. The Tazo concentrate has a strange aftertaste (almost a "boxed" taste to it, which I didn't expect) whereas this recipe tastes fresh and vibrant.

Tazo Chai Tea Latte concentrate

I have had Starbucks' Chai Tea Lattes on two occasions, and I think this homemade version comes really super close to their flavor. Add in the convenience of making them at home and cost savings, and this is definitely the way to go, even over buying boxes of Tazo concentrate! :) And, helping to confirm my opinion that the Celestial Seasonings India Spice Chai tea tastes like Starbucks Chai Tea Lattes, I noticed several reviews of this tea at mentioning that this is the closest they've come to recreating the Starbucks Chai Tea Latte. :)

Celestial Seasonings India Spice Chai tea

I sometimes get the Celestial Seasonings India Spice Chai tea at grocery stores with a coupon, or at Big Lots (usually $2/box) or on sale at Rite Aid ($1.49/box). Our local Big Lots has been out of this tea, and I haven't had many coupons or spotted good sales recently, so I ordered a 6-box case at for $15.31, using SwagBucks gift certificates. These Chai Tea Lattes are one of my  favorite winter treats and I also love serving them to guests! :)

Cost comparison for 12 ounces:

Starbucks Chai Tea Latte $2.95 (or more)

Chai tea latte made with Tazo concentrate: $1.15

Chai tea latte made with this recipe: $0.40 ($0.32 if using milk instead of cream)

So while this recipe isn't my typical from-scratch recipe, it is "mostly homemade" and remarkably like Starbucks Chai Tea Lattes -- for a fraction of the price. :) (The bonus is that in my homemade version, the sugar can be adjusted to taste. See the recipe for notes on sugar content of Starbucks! It's a lot!!)

Have you re-created a favorite Starbucks beverage? I'd love to hear about it in the comments section! :) Or, if you've tried this Celestial Seasonings India Spice Chai tea, I'd love to hear your thoughts! From all the boxed/bagged chai teas I've tried, I think this one is the best!! :)


I very frequently think all Starbucks mixed drinks have a processed aftertaste to them [especially frappucinos. Yay for homemade!]. However, I so want to convince myself I'm getting a treat, that I ignore it, but the more I think about it before I go, the more I realize I really love my homemade drinks better. Highly customizable, and much friendlier on the budget. I still get americanos from the local coffee roaster/shop but most mixed drinks are made at home. We got a box of Tazo Chai teabags in the dent cart at Fred Meyer and I'm not crazy about them. We usually just drink Stash Chai because it comes in naturally decaffeinated and my kids love it and its way less junk then hot cocoa mix, which Costco provides ;) And the Contigo coffee mugs keep my homemade drinks hot so much longer than the cheaper ones I've had in the past. We keep our house pretty cool by most standards, so even when were at home, if we're not sitting down immediately to drink our hot drink, we keep them in an insulated mug.
My favorite holiday drink that we only get this time of year, I have never seen in a Starbucks or anything. Hot black tea with a smidgen of sugar, and good egg nog instead of milk. I like eggnog- I know not everyone does. We drink this every holiday season and miss it when it's gone.

Hi Tammy,

The Tazo Chai teabags (not the concentrate) instead of the Celestial Seasonings tea is great. Add milk or soy milk (my preference) and sugar to taste. I don't usually add sugar to mine because I find it sweet enough with the soy milk (plain, but vanilla would probably be good...and sweeter). I I find most every Starbucks drink to be too sweet. In fact, when getting any flavored drink there I always ask for 1 pump of syrup instead of the three or more they usually put in.

But I do definitely recommend the Tazo tea bags. They are the most authentic I've tasted (and I have an Indian sister-in-law whose Mother make amazing Chai!)

This post is so delicious!
We make our own "chai tea" mix with black tea powder etc... and it is sooo yummy!
But I also really like the Chai teas that Celestial Seasonings has.
I'll have to try your recipe out :)

i am a strange combination of: 1) instant coffee drinker (i can get the intense coffee taste i love without the shakiness that real coffee gives me later - all in about 1 minute with my teapot on a burner) AND 2) diehard starbucks purist when it comes to my "froo froo coffee drinks" (seriously, if i am going to pay $4 for a mocha i want to LOVE IT each and every time - and starbucks delivers)

my drink of choice is always a mocha. i love them so much! here's my homemade version: i make hot cocoa with milk, sugar and cocoa powder ( 1 cup milk, 1 T cocoa, 2 T sugar) and add my instant coffee to it to taste. YUM-O! it can be as sweet, strong, chocolate-ty as i want it to be. now, a starbucks mocha is better [of course], but for a fraction of the price, less fat and in my own's a pretty good knock-off :)

I love seems so redundant to say Chai Chai, means tea in so many languages....but anyhow....
I have never been to Starbucks, so never tried to recreate their tea....but I wondered, do they have this tea in a decaf? I have not been able to sadly have any caffeine for awhile as it makes my heart race like crazy....and have not found a decaf one that is good!

It's been a while, but the last couple times I ordered a decaf Chai at Starbucks I just received a teabag in a cup of hot water. Although it tastes fine, I cannot stomach paying more for one teabag than I would for a whole box!

In India, "chai" means "tea." So, if you ask for "chai," you get plain tea. There, you have to request "masala chai" to get spiced tea (because "masala" means "spiced"). If you will read the labels, most companies simply call their tea "chai."

I do see that Celestial Seasonings uses both terms together, but that's probably simply because many here in America don't know the right term so for marketing purposes they added "tea." But, it's really difficult for me to read this blog post with "chai tea" repeatedly.

We found a Celestial Seasonings Sweet Indian Coconut tea that is Perfect for Chai Tea. Love it! :)

Agree! Big fan of the CS Sweet Indian Coconut! :)

My husband and I drink chai all winter long. On Sunday we make a big pot of the homemade stuff and boil it down all day until it is really concentrated. Then we put it in a pitcher in the fridge. When it is time to make a cup we use half concentrate/ half milk/ some honey and either micro it or froth it up on our little stovetop frother. My husband worked at an independent coffee shop in college and this is how they did it every day. It is so good!

Our favorite ingredient combo is: cloves, cardamom pods, peppercorn, fresh ginger, orange peels, vanilla bean and cinnamon sticks.

you can make a fridge concentrate with your teabags too. use little water and lots of tea and then stick it in the fridge to have all week long. this is actually what they used to have us do when i worked at Starbucks and they were out of the syrupy concentrate.

I LOVE chai tea! My husband's family is from Bangladesh and their homemade chai tea, which I think they create from scratch using black tea and adding the seasonings, is THE BEST I have ever had. Beats Starbucks hands down!!

I just wanted to let you know that I made your mom's oatmeal spice cake with coconut frosting for my friends birthday and she loved it. I did too. Its a keeper.
Its funny you talked about the Celestial seasoning India spic Chai tea because I just told a lady on face book how good it was. I have never had anything from Starbucks so I have nothing to compare it with.
Thank you for sharing your recipes with us.

Sorry, I didnt realize this poste4d anonymously.

Tammy, Starbucks uses the concentrate or the powdered version. I was told by someone that Starbucks uses the powder found at Trader Joes. Chai is black Indian tea with spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, star anise, black pepper, and other spices. The best chai I had was the kind that was served at Indian restaurants which is most likely authentic. Thank you for the posting!!

actually, I know for a fact that Starbucks uses the Tazo syrup. Trader Joe's powder is good, but certainly would not yield a flavor anything like that of a Starbuck's chai latte.

I suggest you skip the cream in your latte and use warmed, frothed milk. I think you'll get a better product. I'm pretty sure Starbucks uses milk - not cream. You can warm the milk on the stovetop or in the microwave - don't boil. It doesn't really need to be hot - just warm it up so that it doesn't chill your tea. Then, froth your milk in a blender, mixer (I use my kitchenaid with whisk attachment), or food processor (I've also used my ninja). Whatever - just mix for 30 seconds or so until nice and frothy. You could add a touch of sugar, vanilla, or spices (cinnamon or nutmeg) before or after mixing, if you'd like, but you don't have to. Yummy!

If you want to make a nice warm drink for the kids (without tea), this is a neat way to make them something special - lightly sweetened flavored milk.

Anyway, I do this with lots of different teabags, and I always enjoy it. Makes regular tea special.

Celestial's Nutcracker Sweet is also very good with just a pinch of sugar and some milk or cream! Bliss in a mug, and waaay cheaper than Starbucks. I agree with pp's, those coffee house drinks tend to have an aftertaste - nothing beats the freshness of a home-made treat, and you know exactly what's in it! There may not be a milk steamer in your kitchen, but I find a few seconds in the microwave after you add the milk warm it just right, and keeps the creaminess that adding extra hot water cannot.

Hillbilly Housewife has a recipe on her site, called Chai Tea Mix or Spiced Milk Tea, you mix up your own batch (dry powder mix). Before I found that one, I found a different one that I've made & like called Homemade Vanilla Chai Tea Mix (which is similar to Hillbilly Housewife's recipe). I found it on

I totally agree with the person who loves Nutcracker Sweet. It's my favorite tea - hands down. I also love their Candy Cane Lane for a nice decaf (and it's green tea) treat in the evening. The Candy Cane Lane isn't only mint, but it has some other flavors that really make this a soothing experience.

Also, have you ever tried Harney and Sons - Hot cinnamon Spice - it's like red hots! Oh WOW!

Our favorite is Stash Chai which we add a bit of milk and sweetner. We have tried other brands but have nto found one we like mearly as much. Stash also makes a decaf Chai and a double Chai.


Thanks for sharing this! I've been looking for a recipe with enough Mmmmph! I must admit I was disappointed when I found out most places just popped open the concentrate and heated it.

Have you tried the TAZO bagged chai tea? I used to use Celestial Seasonings until I found tazo on sale for the same price bonus: its organic too. And I have found the flavor to be MUCH stronger! So it makes more for the same flavor, or less and more potent. Mmmmmm chai. I have been drinking it loooong before the coffee houses have been serving it.

i have been looking for some organic chai tea and i have found it now on ur site with yummy Delicious tea and coffe has been good BUT NOTHING LIKE CHAI!! :D i have always liked it and have been looking for good recipe to use now thanks to this site i found i CAN enjoy it!!!!!!

There is an amazingly yummy Chai variation available in Canada in Superstore called "Chocolatey Chai" (President's Choice). Think two wonderful flavours ~ chocolate and chai and you've got it. No calories, unless you add cream and sugar and very lovely pick-me-up!

After trying several brands, our family really likes the Twinings brand best. They have chai, ultra spice chai, and pumpkin spice chai (our favorite!) They are all good!

i normally use the oregon chai tea liquid base at home with some milk but it always goes way too fast. should i switch to powder base or does it leave those funky grains at the bottom and if so where can I buy it. How much does the chai tea tea bags cost at QFC? since you are in the greater seattle area i thought i would ask. I like in the south puget sound area/ hood canal area.

Sometimes the Oregon Chai powdered mix does leave a little residue at the bottom. I think the powdered mix tastes a lot different from the concentrate (I like it a better, actually). But my favorite is probably the Oregon Chai tea bags (they are like normal tea bags, not sweetened) that can be made and then milk added and sweetener added. I think the box of 20 tea bags was $3.49 (but less with a coupon). The box of powdered mixes is... I think maybe $3 for 10 packets? But I can't remember very well.

But that is all the Oregon Chai brand ones -- I also really love the Celestial Seasonings India Chai Spice tea bags. :)

We've found the Oregon Chai tea bags at QFC; I've found the powdered mixes at QFC and Wal-Mart and I'm sure lots of other places carry them around here too. :) And a lot of times you can get coupons for them --in the store, with a free sample, and maybe online (printable) too -- if you check around. :)

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