Dirty Chai Latte combines the traditional chai flavors with a jolt of espresso and a little bit of milk foam for that coffee shop presentation. You don’t even have to have special equipment to make the milk foam. I’ll show you how to do it with a jar and a microwave.
What is a Dirty Chai Latte?
I suppose it was inevitable once coffee shops started serving Indian masala chai and calling it a “chai latte,” somebody would invent the Dirty Chai Latte. Even though there is an important coffee industry in India, this recipe is more at home in American coffee shops.
This is a great recipe for someone who likes masala chai and craves that extra jolt of caffeine. It’s an easy way to save money on a coffee shop drink and a fun variation on coffee to make for guests. I find that anything to do with chai is very personal. Make it better by personalizing it to your tastes.
About This Recipe
Ultimately, anything to do with chai is deeply personal. My grandma, for example, would use a lot of tea leaves and steep her chai for 10 minutes for a very tannic, very strong-tasting tea few others would enjoy.
To develop this recipe, I tested different concentrations of chai masala, tea leaf, sweetener, and water, as well as how long I steeped the chai. I think we found a balance that would be pleasing to most, but feel free to adjust to your personal preferences. This is based on my tried and true masala chai recipe.
Chai masala – Chai masala is a spice blend. You can follow my recipe for chai masala and make it yourself or purchase it already blended. Authentic chai masala mixes are easily found at Indian stores, although I would always recommend using freshly ground spices if you can. Versions of chai masala have also become commonplace at standard grocery stores. Chai masala gives this drink its aromatics and flavors.
Espresso or very strong coffee – espresso is ideal here, but if you don’t have an espresso machine, make a very strong coffee by doubling the coffee grounds.
Tea Leaves or bag of black tea
Sweetener of choice – date syrup, maple syrup, or sugar
Whole milk – fattier milk will foam up better. 2% milk will work well too. Plant-based milks will work as long as they can foam up.
Steamed Milk Without An Espresso Machine
I have an espresso machine, but for this recipe, I wanted to provide an alternative way to make steamed milk. This method worked remarkably well. It gives you warm frothy milk as well as foam. All you need is a jar, some milk, and a microwave.
- Put about half a cup of cold milk in a jar.
- With a lid on, shake the jar vigorously for 30-60 seconds.
- Take the lid off and microwave the milk for 30 seconds.
The foam I got was like perfect cappuccino foam, light and fluffy but holding its shape.
- This recipe comes down to balance. You must balance the bitterness from the coffee beans and tea with sweetness. Since coffee beans vary greatly in bitterness, you will have to taste the drink as you make it to get the balance just right. If you aren’t sure, use less sugar and add more as needed.
- Timing: in order to make sure you have a warm drink, you need to figure out how to have everything ready at a similar time. It takes about 5 minutes to make the chai. Your espresso is going to take however long your machine takes to make it. The steamed milk in the microwave takes about 1 1/2 minutes altogether. So be sure to time this, so these things are ready together.
- Serve with foods that go well with coffee, like Chai-Spiced Sticky Buns, Gulab Jamun Cake, or Khari Biscuits (Savory Puff Pastry Bites).
- Use your favorite sweetener
- Choice of milk: you should be able to get enough foam from 2% or whole milk. Plant-based milks may work as well.
Dirty Chai Latte
- 1 tsp black tea or 1 tea bag
- ½ tsp chai masala
- ⅔ cup water
- ½ cup whole milk can use 2% milk
- 2 tsp date syrup sugar, maple syrup or any sweetener of choice, to taste
- Combine water and tea leaves in a small pan. Bring to a boil. Turn off heat and add chai masala, tea leaves, and sugar. Cover and let sit for 2 minutes.
- While the tea is steeping, make your espresso or strong coffee and steamed milk.
- Transfer tea to a mug, straining out the tea leaves. Add your espresso to the tea.
- Pour the warm milk into the mug to fill. Top with milk foam. Garnish with a sprinkle of chai masala. Serve warm.