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All You Need to Know About The Chai Latte

You can enjoy our milks in a variety of chain and independent cafes across Scotland. We know that many of you are big fans of Graham’s milk in your latte or cappuccino, and those particular coffees are something we’ve blogged about before. However, coffee isn’t the only hot drink you can enjoy a drop of dairy goodness in. In recent years, the chai latte has come to prominence. But what actually is this spicy treat and where did it come from?

What are the origins of the chai latte?

Well, these days we strongly associate tea with both China and India but, in fact, tea plantations were only introduced to India in the 19th century, by the British. Hot, spiced drinks were drunk in India in the centuries before that, but it wasn’t until the early 20th century that black tea became a drink of the masses in India. 

These days, it’s common to see people selling chai on the street in India. In this form, it’s sold mixed with milk and sweetened with sugar. It’s also spiced in some way. The difference between Indian chai and the type you might be used to enjoying in your local café is that Indian chai may only have one spice added to it and which one is used could vary by region, seasonality and availability.

Popular spices used for the purpose include cinnamon, ginger, cardamom or black pepper. By contrast, the chai latte we’ve become used to drinking here can often include a combination of these warming spices.


So how did the chai latte’s popularity spread from India?

The world is always exchanging ideas and the food and drink sector is no different in this regard. In the same way that soldiers and officials of the British Empire brought back a taste for Indian cuisine in the centuries before, Western travellers to India in the 1960s began to bring back a taste for chai.

America’s west coast area, around Seattle and Portland, was an incubator for much of the coffee shop culture that we now see; the first Starbucks café opened in Seattle in 1971. With a strong alternative music and culture scene, chai was known in the coffee shops of Seattle and in the early 1990s Starbucks’ tapped into its roots and began selling the chai latte in it’s coffee shops. From there, the growth of this sweet and comforting drink has been irresistible.


Which Graham’s milk is best to enjoy with your chai latte?

We all have our own individual tastes so deciding which of our milks you enjoy most in your chai latte is down to your own experimentation. However, if the spicy kick in your cuppa is ever too much for you then you might find that the creaminess of our Graham’s Gold Top takes the edge off, it while still ensuring a rich and soothing drink.