Does Chai Have Caffeine?
August 11, 2021
There is nothing like a warm, creamy cup of chai in the morning — or in the afternoon or evening, for that matter. Before you break out the kettle and start steeping an after-dinner cup, you may find yourself asking the question: does chai have caffeine?
The answer is usually yes, though not nearly as much as you will find in coffee.
The amount of caffeine a cup of real chai tea has — or if it has any at all — depends on the variety of chai that you are drinking, as well as how you prepare it. If you are a spiced tea aficionado who is looking for a strong, well-steeped cup of loose leaf tea to start the morning off right, chai tea is for you! And if you are more interested in a tea that you can pair with a good book to help you unwind at night, chai may also be for you.
This article will explain the different caffeine contents across types of chai and how to pick the best one to perfectly suit your caffeine needs. Let’s dive in!
What is Chai Tea?
Where does chai tea come from and what is in chai tea? Chai tea comes from India, where the word “chai” simply means tea. It is usually made from a black Assam tea base with spices such as ginger, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, and black peppercorn. The traditional method of preparation in India involves mixing the chai with steamed milk (almond milk or cow’s milk) and sweetening it with honey.
While traditional chai typically uses black tea, there are a variety of different spiced tea or masala tea beverages that bear the name, many of which combine the spices and flavors of chai with other types of tea, including:
- Chai green tea
- Rooibos chai
- Chai white tea
- Matcha chai
- Chai lattes
In the cases where the chai flavor comes only from the collection of spices, not from black tea itself, then the amount of caffeine is dictated by the type of loose leaf tea it is paired with.
How Much Caffeine Is In a Serving of Chai?
Since there are so many different kinds of chai tea available — with varying degrees of resemblance to the traditional meaning of chai — the amount of caffeine in one serving can vary significantly depending on what type you are drinking.
To know how much caffeine is in your 8-ounce cup of chai, we will need a little more information, including the type of tea leaves and preparation method:
- Traditional black chai – This type of chai can have anywhere between 50 and 100 milligrams in a standard serving, though it is usually on the lower side of the spectrum. Still, this relatively high caffeine level makes it a great early morning tea since it will give you the energy boost you need to make it through the day.
- Rooibos chai – Rooibos is a herbal tea, so it does not have any caffeine. If you are looking for a kind of chai tea to reduce your caffeine intake before going to bed or while pregnant, rooibos (red) chai fits the bill.
- Green chai – With less caffeine per serving than black chai, this variety comes in at 30–50 milligrams of caffeine in a standard cup. Green tea’s lower caffeine levels make it perfect for a light pick-me-up in the morning and afternoon, but should probably be avoided around bedtime or for anyone looking to cut down on their caffeine intake.
- Chai latte – There are several ways to make a chai latte, and the amount of caffeine varies between each one. These popular beverages, therefore, present a tasty and unique way to drink chai that lets you adjust your caffeine intake. There are plenty of kits available to help you make them at home with easy options for most chai types:
- Steeped chai tea – Some chai lattes consist of traditionally steeped black tea plus milk, creating a creamy, frothy, and spicy beverage. In this case, a chai latte would have the same caffeine content as a regular cup — the primary difference is the amount of added milk.
- Chai powder – Lattes made with chai powder have between 25–55 milligrams of caffeine.
- Chai concentrate – Lattes that use chai concentrate have between 30–35 milligrams. With this convenient option, all you have to do is pour, stir, and enjoy.
- Chai syrup – Some chai lattes are merely flavored to resemble the spicy, earthy tastes of the steeped beverage. When the chai flavor comes exclusively from a syrup, this is most likely a caffeine-free drink.
For those with Nespresso machines, you can also use Chai Latte Capsules and enjoy a cafe-quality drink in your own home.
All in all, the difference in caffeine levels means there’s never a bad time to reach for a cup of real chai tea. No matter the time of day or night, you can find a type to suit your needs.
How Do Caffeine Levels in Chai Compare to Other Types of Tea?
You might also wonder how strong your morning cup of chai is when compared to other kinds of tea. Assuming you’re drinking traditional black chai masala tea while you read the morning news or complete your daily crossword puzzle, the caffeine levels stack up as follows:
- Chai vs. oolong – Oolong tea usually has between 37–55 milligrams of caffeine in a serving. This means that oolong has about half the caffeine content of your black chai tea at its strongest.
- Chai vs. green – Similar to chai green tea and oolong, green tea has about 35–45 milligrams of caffeine in an 8-ounce cup. If you’re looking for a strong tea to give you an energy boost for the day, you’re probably better off sticking with your black chai and its 50–100 milligrams of caffeine.
- Chai vs. white – White tea is incredibly fresh because it is harvested early when the leaves on the tea plant have not fully unfurled yet. It is also processed less and exposed to less oxygen than other types of tea, resulting in a more delicate flavor profile. This accounts for white tea’s lower caffeine levels, with only 15–30 milligrams in a cup. While white tea might be tasty, it will not wake you up like chai.
- Chai vs. herbal – Despite the name, herbal teas actually are not teas at all — and they do not have naturally occurring caffeine like tea leaves. As far as caffeine goes, herbal teas are most comparable to rooibos chai tea which is also caffeine free.
With the highest caffeine content across all types of tea, traditional black chai is definitely one of the best beverages to help you shake off the morning grogginess. It is what you should reach for in your tea cabinet if you want to start your day alert and ready.
How Does Chai Tea Compare to Coffee?
Both tea and coffee are traditional morning drinks with the ability to wake you up. But even a strong cup of chai tea has less caffeine than coffee. A typical cup of black chai tea has around 60 milligrams of caffeine, while eight ounces of coffee has 120.
Tea also gives you more of a steady energy boost than coffee, which kicks in faster but spikes and drops quicker. This spike causes unpleasant side effects like jitters and crashes when the caffeine wears off. Drinking chai tea will make those kinds of side effects less pronounced due to the lower levels of caffeine and the slower way our bodies absorb it.
How Much Chai Is Safe to Drink?
Is chai tea good for you? Yes, it is. However, as they say, there is too much of a good thing. The FDA suggests that 400 milligrams in a day is generally the upper limit of recommended caffeine consumption. However, there are individual factors that can affect how much caffeine you should consume as an individual, such as:
- Metabolic rate
- Certain medical conditions
- Specific medication interactions
Pregnancy and breastfeeding also limit how much caffeine you should consume. The American Pregnancy Association recommends less than 200 milligrams a day, half the amount of the average person.
Stock Up on Premium Chai — The Republic of Tea Has a Catalogue of Options
At The Republic of Tea, we’ve always made it a top priority to ensure that our Citizens can choose from the best selection of premium teas available. We offer a variety of chai options from caffeine-free Republic Red Chai to a unique U•Matcha Chai tea blend for all our matcha-loving Citizens out there.
So go ahead and browse our premium chai teas today to prepare at home! You will love the upgrade in taste and savings.
Tea How. Does Chai Have Caffeine? Levels for Each Chai Variety.
Garfield Medical Center. Different Types of Tea and Caffeine Content.
Culinary Teas. Chai Tea Is Perfect for Quitting Coffee. Here’s Why.
FDA. Spilling the Beans: How Much Caffeine is Too Much?
American Pregnancy Association. Caffeine During Pregnancy.