Kitchen Daily's latest taste test not only determined the best brand of chai tea bags, but it also triggered some self-realization within our edit team: We're not sure if we actually like chai.
Let's explain this. Most Americans have become accustomed to the coffee-chain breed of chai lattes, which actually taste heavier of sugar and cream than of authentic Indian chai spices. (What are those spices, you ask? They typically consist of cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, fennel, cloves and peppercorns.) We've fallen in love with the creamy combination of spice, sugar and fat.
If you need proof of just how much sugar and cream those contain, here it is. A 16-ounce version of the Starbucks Tazo Chai Tea Latte contains 4.5 grams of fat (thanks to 2% milk) and 42 grams of sugar.
Even worse, a 14-ounce Vanilla Chai from Dunkin Donuts contains 8 grams of fat and 45 grams of sugar -- yow!
So what happened when our taste testers did a blind taste test using straight-up water and chai tea bags? (Not to be confused with sugary chai drink mixes!) We heard a lot of this: "I don't think I like chai as much as I thought!" The actual tea itself tastes like -- well, spicy water. So if you're a big tea drinker (particularly of herbal teas), you'll likely enjoy a glass of straight-up chai. But if you're not, you might need to do a little tweaking.
The good news is, we found some brands that are enjoyable on their own, without cream or sugar. And the better news? With a little added fat and sweetness, a lot of these teas can be jazzed up into a delicious latte. The warm chai spices are the perfect indulgence on a cold day.
Check out the top 10 performers below! (And yes, we did taste two varieties from Twinings. But surprisingly, they didn't make the cut.)
As always, none of the brands included in this taste test are involving or sponsoring this test.