Does chai have caffeine? Yes, chai is a caffeinated beverages, in fact, the weakest chai tested had the same amount of caffeine as a decaf grande coffee. But how much caffeine contains in a cup of chai? Does caffeine content in chai can vary a lot and does caffeine in chai is the same with coffee? Let's learn more about this topic with Monk's Chai!
What is Chai?
A little while ago we wrote in "What is Chai" post about the history of this wonderful drink, and what exactly it is, as well as its health benefits, so I won’t go into detail here. I will only say that Chai is a traditional beverage dating back up to 9,000 years and is made with milk, sugar, spices and tea, simmered together and served warm.
But you might still be confused about names. Is the cup of chai you make at home the same as the ‘chai latte’ you see at your local coffee shop? Despite the fact that it has ‘latte’ in its name, and you can see it on menus next to espressos and cortados, it contains no coffee whatsoever. The difference between a Chai Latte and a cup of traditional Indian Chai is how it’s made. A chai latte has become synonymous with a powder or syrup that tastes vaguely like the traditional drink it's based on, but usually doesn’t contain any whole ingredients that makes a masala chai, rather they are the notion of a chai.
Just remember, no matter the name, the only caffeine in it comes from the tea leaves that it’s brewed with.
How much caffeine in a chai tea?
Making chai isn’t like making a Martini or an Americano, though some may argue, there’s no set recipe to follow. That means anyone can mix some tea, milk, sugar and spices together and call it a Masala Chai, so the caffeine content can vary a lot. However, all is not lost, and although there’s no way of knowing the amount of caffeine in a cup of black chai if you buy it from a food stall in one of Delhi’s backstreets, any professional tea maker (known as ‘chaiwalla’) will use a set unique recipe.
The good people at Caffeine Informer tested six different 8oz chais for their caffeine content and found the caffeine content in chai varies from 27-67mg per cup, which is a huge difference! But you probably don’t want to throw your freshly brewed cup of sweet spicy chai away just yet. Although it may look like a lot, even the strongest chai latte tested had only about a third the amount of caffeine when compared to a regular coffee (which are about 180mg). In fact, the weakest chai tested had the same amount of caffeine as a decaf grande coffee.
A break down of how much caffeine does chai tea have:
|Drinks||fl oz||Calories||Caffeine (mg)||mg/floz|
|Oregon chai tea||6||130||45||7.5|
|Big train spiced chai||8||210||65||8.1|
Source: Caffeine informer
In addition to the lower levels of caffeine, the spices in Chai interact with the tannin content of tea, especially black tea, to slow the absorption of caffeine and help ease and calm the nervous system.
See more: Decaffeinated chai tea facts
The caffeine content of other chai varieties
In Asia Masala chai is made by filling a large pan with milk and adding tea, sugar and spices, following personal taste and their own recipe. Typically a chaiwalla will add milk, sugar and spices which are topped up constantly throughout the day, and the chai changes a little as the pot is filled and refilled.
In the west we have a few different ways of making chai. If you’re making a cup of Monk’s Organic Speciality Chai then it’s up to you how much additional sweetness or milk you want to include, or you can choose to leave them out completely. If you make chai this way the caffeine content will vary depending on how long you leave the tea leaves in the water - if you want more caffeine leave the tea in longer (up to 5 minutes) or if you want less caffeine, bring the tea out after a minute or so.
Rather than using tea leaves, some cafes use an artificially flavoured syrup that is then mixed with steamed milk. These are great if you’re looking for a caffeine free alternative, but because they don’t have tea in them purests say this isn’t ‘real’ chai. We say drink whatever brings you joy, but know that if you’re looking for a hand waking up on a Monday morning, these syrups aren’t going to help with that outside of an initial sugar rush.
Most big outlets make their Chai Latte drinks from a chai concentrate. This is when a large amount of regular chai has been made and then boiled down to remove as much of the water as possible into a reduction of all the ingredients, which is then put back in by the barista when you order. Because it’s brewed normally to begin with it still has the same amount of caffeine as you’d expect - and is usually in the range of 25-60 mg of caffeine per cup. This is great when you are seriously trying to save time, but as proprietors of high volume cafes we can tell you that this time savings is a false economy as Monk’s chai can be brewed instantly, yielding outstanding flavour each time.
So, unless you are told otherwise, assume your Chai does contain caffeine.
See more: Is tea gluten-free?
Caffeine in chai tea vs coffee
A break down of caffeine levels in Coffee:
|Drinks||fl oz||Calories||Caffeine (mg)||mg/floz|
|Coffee bean, tea leaf coffee||16||5||333||20.8|
Source: Caffeine Informer
The short answer is that most Chai labelled drinks contain significantly less caffeine than a regular coffee, probably around a third of the amount. The long answer is that it depends on how the coffee and chai are made.
If you make your own chai at home using a loose leaf like Monk’s, you can control how much caffeine it will have by altering how much quantity you use and how long you leave the tea to brew. This means that people who are trying to reduce their caffeine intake can swap their morning coffee for a chai and still get a rush of energy, without the same adrenal robbing post-coffee jitters, or the caffeine highs and lows that coffee drinkers experience.
See more: Reasons to switching from coffee to chai
Caffeine in Chai FAQ
Is chai tea considered high in caffeine?
Chai tea contains moderate levels of caffeine due to the presence of black tea leaves, which are its primary component. The caffeine content in chai tea provides a stimulating effect.
Can chai tea be consumed at night?
Chai tea can be consumed at any hour, and there is no significant advantage or disadvantage to drinking it at night. Feel free to enjoy its potential benefits whenever you desire.
Will chai tea keep me awake?
Chai tea is the perfect way to wake up and get your day going. Boasting a sizable caffeine content, this delightful beverage will help you power through the morning or give an energy boost when it’s needed most! As chai contains black tea leaves which naturally contain caffeine, its energizing properties are undeniable.
Can chai tea provide an energy boost?
Chai tea, specifically black teas like chai, can provide a gentle yet invigorating increase in energy levels while reducing feelings of grogginess. These carefully crafted blends contain an appropriate amount of caffeine for a smooth stimulation without causing any unwanted effects such as jitters.
Does chai tea have caffeine naturally?
Chai teas do contain caffeine naturally. The caffeine content in your cup may vary depending on factors such as the ratio of tea to water, steeping time, and the addition of spices or scents, as seen in Masala Chai. So, enjoy the delightful experience of chai while being aware of its caffeine content.
Is chai tea OK before bed?
Chai is a great alternative to traditionally caffeinated beverages, containing just enough caffeine for an alert state of mind without disrupting your sleep. Furthermore, the tannin in chai slows down how quickly it enters your system so you can relax and enjoy its delicious flavor – guilt-free! Read our Chai tea before bed