The differences between popular Tea drinks:  Tea, Masala Tea, Masala Chai, Chai Tea, Chai Latte and Dirty Chai

Many people are confused with all the variations of coffees available in a café, but there is as much confusion around the different types of teas available.  The Vibe team worked to put together a definition of the top Tea drinks in the market to help educate people on the similarities and differences of the following Tea drinks….

  1. Standard Tea
  2. Masala Tea
  3. Masala Chai
  4. Chai Tea
  5. Chai Latte
  6. Dirty Chai

What is a standard tea?

Let’s get the easy one out of the way first.  A standard tea is boiled water with a tea bag or tea leaves mixed with sugar and milk.   The addition of sugar and/or milk will vary based on the preferences of an individual.

Easy Done!

What is a Masala Tea?

Masala tea is made up of black broken tea leaves steeped (soaked) in hot water for a set period to extract intense flavour without releasing the bitter tannins.

Once the black tea leaves have been soaked to perfection, milk and a blend of spices are then added.   These spices are most commonly…

  • Cardamom
  • Ginger
  • Black pepper
  • Cinnamon

Masala tea is known for its taste and aroma and can prevent various kinds of illnesses and keep you healthy.   The known health benefits are

  • Reduces inflammation
  • Boosts immunity
  • Aids in digestion
  • Contains antioxidants
  • Increases energy levels

What is a Masala Chai or Chai Tea?

A Masala Chai and Chai Tea are both the same as a Masala Tea.    Research has proven, all three hot tea drinks contain the identical ingredients and methods to create.  All three Tea titles mean the same thing.

It’s interesting to note, the Indian version of the Masala Chai/Chai Tea/Masala Tea is more herbal and spicier, while the western adaption is more sweet.

What is a Chai Latte?

The word “latte” is Italian for “milk” which is where the name “Chai Latte” comes from.  This can cause confusion because a Chai Latte is not a true “latte” because there is no espresso in this hot drink (see Dirty Chai below).

A Chai Latte is a combination of black tea and milk (ideally steamed milk) which is then infused with spices.   This sounds the same as a Masala Tea, and in many respects it is except for two key differences….

  1. The use of spices in a Chai Latte can vary from a Masala Tea
  2. Chai Latte’s use sweeteners

Chai Latte Spices:

The spices most commonly found in a Chai Latte are…

  • Cardamom
  • Cinnamon
  • Ginger
  • Star anise*
  • Cloves

*Star anise is the seed pod from the fruit of the Illicium verum plant, native to Southwest China. The star anise is shaped like a star, has an average of eight points, each containing a single pea-sized seed.   The seeds and pod contain a sweet flavour.

Pepper, coriander, nutmeg and fennel are also used in Chai Lattes, but are less common.

Vibe Tip: Fresh spices make the best chai.

Chai Latte Sweeteners:

The sweetener in a Chai Latte comprises plain white sugar or cane sugar.  Cane sugar is a really good option because of its concentrated sweet flavor.  The issue with cane sugar is, it’s hard to find in America.   Chai Latte’s typically need more sweetener because of the spices being used.

The Vibe Chai Latte uses cane sugar and honey as its sweetener.

The use of spices in a Chai Latte will always vary from café to café.  In fact, cafes are known to use a sweetened chai syrup or a powder which allows them to quickly create hot the drink.

The Vibe Chai Latte is a fusion of black tea and a blend of spices sweetened with honey and sugar.  You can learn more about the Vibe Chai Latte but clicking here.

Because Vibe perfectly manufactures its Chai Latte’s in Melbourne, the end product is carefully sealed in pods (or capsules) and designed to work in all standard Nespresso® Capsule Machines.

What is a Dirty Chai:

This is where it gets interesting.  A Dirty Chai is a Chai Latte with a shot of espresso!

Just to add to the confusion, the Dirty Chai has other names…

  • Espresso Chai
  • Java Chai
  • Rey Eye Chai
  • Chai Charger
  • Tough Guy Chai

The Dirty Chai has become popular in recent years and is a great alternative for people who are not a fan of strong-tasting coffee but enjoy the caffeine hit.

Making a café grade Dirty Chai can easily be done with the Vibe Coffee products.  Use one Chai Latte pod, and then add one of Vibe Coffee Espresso pod into the same drink.

The Dirty Chai is as good cold as it is hot.

And!  If you use a diary free milk such as Almond Milk, this drink and the others mentioned above are dairy-free and gluten free!

The Final Word:

We hope the above explanation simplifies your life when trying to understand the variety of Tea drinks available in the market.

If there is anything in the article which needs more clarification, please reach out by emailing us at

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