Dirty Chai is a unique and delightful beverage experience. Each sip blends rich espresso and warm chai spices like cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, black pepper, and allspice. Easy to make at home and ready in 10 minutes.
I recently had a delicious dirty chai for the first time at a local cafe called Meemoms, best known for its amazing French toast. The dirty chai was so good that I wanted to learn how to make it at home.
The term "dirty chai" refers to a popular beverage that combines two beloved drinks: chai and espresso. Sometimes called a "chai charger" or "java chai." It's a creative fusion that offers the rich flavors of traditional Indian spiced tea and the boldness of coffee.
While the exact origins of dirty chai are unclear, it has gained popularity in coffee shops and cafes worldwide. Coffee and tea enthusiasts alike will enjoy this beverage.
What Is A Dirty Chai?
Chai, which means "tea" in Hindi, is a traditional Indian beverage that dates back centuries. It is typically made by blending black tea leaves, milk, and an aromatic blend of spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and black peppercorns. Some chai recipes call for star anise. The resulting chai is a flavorful and popular drink usually served hot and sweetened.
Adding espresso shots to chai creates a unique flavor profile, combining the warming spices of chai with the rich and robust taste of coffee. This combination gives the drink its "dirty" name, which refers to the infusion of an espresso drink into the traditionally tea-based beverage, creating the perfect combination of tea and espresso.
While the traditional method of preparing dirty chai involves brewing chai and adding a single shot of espresso, variations have emerged. Some people use instant coffee or espresso powder, making it easier for home preparation. The type of milk used can also vary depending on dietary preferences, with options like whole milk, almond, soy, or oat milk.
Equipment and Ingredients
- Vanilla extract
You can make a dirty chai at home without fancy equipment. Espresso options:
- I have this stovetop espresso maker, so I made my dirty chai with freshly brewed espresso. I like the flavor of Illy Classico Espresso.
- If you don't have an espresso maker, you can use powdered espresso, often used for baking. The brand I tried, which is the most popular among bakers, is Medaglia D'Oro Instant Espresso Coffee.
For the chai, you have several options.
- I make a traditional masala chai with whole spices - you can find my recipe here.
- Or you can purchase black tea blended with chai spices loosely or in black tea bags. My two all-time favorite chai blends are made by Adagio and Vahdam Tea.
- The third option is to buy a chai concentrate. Oregon chai is the original chai concentrate and makes a delicious tea, in my opinion.
Does Espresso Have Less Caffeine Than Coffee?
Contrary to popular belief, espresso does not have less caffeine than regular coffee. Espresso typically has a higher concentration of caffeine per ounce than regular brewed coffee. However, the serving sizes for espresso and coffee differ, leading to misconceptions about the caffeine content.
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Hot water is forced under high pressure through finely-ground coffee beans to make Espresso. Brewing espresso extracts the flavors and compounds from the coffee quickly and efficiently, resulting in a concentrated and intense shot of coffee. A typical serving size of espresso is about 1 to 1.5 fluid ounces, containing around 63 milligrams of caffeine on average.
As a general guideline, an 8-ounce cup of brewed coffee contains approximately 95 milligrams of caffeine, but it can range from 80 to 100 milligrams. An 8-ounce green or black tea contains 30-50 milligrams of caffeine.
The popularity of dirty chai is attributed to its ability to satisfy both tea and coffee lovers with an extra boost of caffeine. It balances the comforting and aromatic qualities of chai and the stimulating effects of coffee. The caffeine content in coffee provides an additional energy boost, making dirty chai a popular choice for those seeking an extra kick.
Dirty Chai Recipe
Chai spices with a hint of vanilla, espresso, and milk are a great way to get a little extra kick of caffeine.
- 1 Espresso maker
- In a saucepan, add water and bring it to a boil.
- Add the chai tea bags or loose tea to the boiled water and let it steep for 5 minutes.
- Add the sugar and stir to dissolve.
- Add milk to the saucepan and bring to a boil, then quickly reduce and simmer for 5 minutes. Avoid letting the milk boil over.
- Strain and remove the tea leaves.
- Brew or mix powder espresso to make 6 ounces.
- Add espresso to the chai in the saucepan and stir all together.
- Pour the dirty chai into a cup or mug.
- Your quick and easy dirty chai is now ready to enjoy! Serve it hot or iced.
You can adjust the tea, coffee, favorite milk, and sweetener ratios for easy variations based on your perfect way. You can also experiment with different spices or sprinkle with cinnamon or nutmeg for additional flavor variations. Enjoy!
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