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How to Make a Dirty Chai Latte: Recipe & Pictures


Chai lattes are very popular these days, and chances are you’ve seen them on the menu at your favorite coffee shop. You’ve probably even had a few. Chai lattes are typically made with black tea, spices, and frothed milk. A dirty chai latte adds coffee to the mix, usually as a shot of espresso.

If you love the spicy goodness of chai tea, you’ll love a dirty chai latte too. In this recipe, we’re going to show you how easy it is to make a dirty chai latte at home and also give you some ideas to spice it up…pun very much intended!divider 3

What You’ll Need

The bare minimum ingredients required to make a dirty chai latte are tea, spices, milk, and coffee. Plain black tea is the most common choice, but you can use another tea if you prefer. Look for a strong tea. A weak tea will get lost in the spices and coffee.

cinnamon coffee cinnamon sticks
Image credit: Unsplash

Chai spices are where chai lattes get their name. Many spices are used in chai lattes, but the most common ones are cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, allspice, cloves, and ginger. You can also get a premade blend of spices if you don’t want to make your own blend.

You will also need some coffee. Most often, a shot of espresso is what puts the dirty in dirty chai latte. If you don’t have an espresso machine, you can use your favorite kind of coffee. We’ll give you some alternatives at the end, but we’re going to assume you have espresso for now.

Last on the list is milk. Any dairy or non-dairy milk will do, so choose your favorite. If you’re looking for a recommendation, we like to mix almond and dairy milk in a 1:1 ratio.

How to Make a Dirty Chai Latte:

  • 1 tea bag or 1-tsp loose leaf black tea
  • 3-ounces of your favorite milk
  • 1 shot of espresso
  • 1-2 tbsp chai spices or pre-made chai blend
  • 1-cup water
  • Tea kettle (or other means of boiling water)
  • Measuring spoons
  • Espresso maker
  • Small saucepan
  • Milk frother (optional)

Ok, now that you have your ingredients and equipment ready, let’s go!

1. Make the tea.

Boil 1 cup of water for the tea. Once the water has boiled, add your tea and steep for 3-5 minutes. We prefer a more robust tea flavor and usually let the tea steep for close to the full 5 minutes.

2. Heat and froth the milk.

In the small saucepan, heat 3 ounces of your choice of milk until it reaches a low boil. Frothing the milk takes this recipe to the next level, but don’t worry if you don’t have a milk frother. Whisking vigorously or shaking the milk in a sealed container are both great ways to simulate frothing.

3. Pull a shot of espresso.

While the tea and milk are heating, make one shot of espresso. It can be tricky to get the timing right but don’t worry. It’s not a big deal if you have to wait for the coffee or tea to finish. We’re combining all hot ingredients so the final drink won’t get cold quickly

4. Measure your spices.

Measure out your spices. How much spice you want depends on taste, but a good starting point is 1-2 tablespoons of chai spice. If you are blending your own spices, start with ¼-teaspoon of each. With our recommended spices, ¼ teaspoon each makes a total of 1½ teaspoons of spices.

5. Combine the tea and coffee.

Combine the tea, espresso, and spices in a large mug and stir.

dirty chai lattes
Image: Unsplash

6. Add the milk and enjoy!

Add the frothed milk. A nice touch is to sprinkle a pinch of cinnamon over the top. This gives it a coffee shop feel and a pleasant cinnamon aroma.divider 1

What If You Don’t Have an Espresso Machine?

Not everyone has an espresso maker at home. Even though a dirty chai latte is traditionally made with a shot of espresso, you can use any coffee. The key to getting it as close as possible to coffee shop quality is using strong coffee.

The best alternative is to use a Moka pot. Some people even refer to them as stovetop espresso makers – although that is not wholly accurate. If you have a Moka pot, that should be your first choice.

Another good choice is French press. If you choose to use a French press, make it about twice the strength of your regular cup. If your standard is a 16:1 water to coffee ratio, try making 8:1 instead.

Moka pot pouring espresso
A Moka pot will work.

What If You Don’t Have a Milk Frother?

We mentioned above that the milk frother is not necessary to make a dirty chai latte. You can shake heated milk in a tightly sealed container, stir or whisk it vigorously, or even use a French press. The plunger in a French press is a great way to froth milk without a frother. Pour the milk into the French press and plunge up and down quickly until the milk is thick and creamy.

Spice It Up

What spices you use is entirely up to you, and we encourage you to experiment! There are as many combinations of spices as there are recipes for dirty chai lattes. Our recommendation in this recipe is just a guide for where to start. Some people only use a few spices; others use more. The only way to find out if something is good is to try it! Add or subtract a little at a time and see how the taste changes.

Use a Different Tea

Most chai latte recipes use black tea, but you can use whatever tea you like best. Green tea is a common alternative, but you might have to adjust your other ingredients to go with the weaker flavor. If you make a dirty chai latte with green tea, we suggest that you use 1-tablespoon of spices and about half the espresso. A great option is to make a green tea dirty chai latte with regular coffee instead of espresso. A regular cup of coffee won’t overpower the lighter green tea like a shot of espresso will.divider 7


That’s it! We hope this recipe for making a dirty chai latte gives you a great foundation to build from. Our recipe is our favorite way to make it, but part of the fun is experimenting and finding your own favorite method. You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment or expensive ingredients to make a delicious chai latte at home. All you need is tea, coffee, a dash of spices, some milk, and a willingness to explore new things!

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Featured image credit: insanelyseren, Pixabay

Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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