Do I miss the Midwest? Hmmm.
I don’t miss needing a car to go everywhere.
And I don’t miss the freezing temps, ice and snow.
But I do miss family and friends,
our little corner apartment,
and my goodness do I miss the chai lattes at Kaldi’s.
I shudder just thinking about how good they were.
It’s been weeks and I’m having withdrawals. Straight -withdrawals.
I suppose it’s time I learn to make them at home.
You see where this is going.
From scratch vegan chai lattes at home – we’re doing this.
First of all, if you are ever in Kansas City on the Plaza, go to Kaldi’s and try their chai latte. It’s the best I’ve ever had. Not that I’ve tried anything authentic from the source, but of my many coffeeshop experiences, it’s hands down the best.
Not too sweet
I’ve done my best to make the latte of my dreams at home and think I’ve nailed it!
I even did my research on what goes into those sneaky powder mixes coffee shops use, which they assure me are dairy-free. I still have my suspicions…
This latte? It’s from scratch. No powders, no pre-mixed packets, no pre-fab concentrate. We’re going old school.
What is Masala Chai?
Masala chai is a creamy, spiced tea that’s most popular in India but is increasingly enjoyed around the world. The primary difference between chai and masala chai is that masala chai includes spices, while chai is simply tea and milk.
Chai is typically made with four components:
- Black tea (we prefer bagged or loose-leaf, decaf when possible)
- Milk (we went dairy-free with coconut and/or cashew )
- Sweetener (we went for a little maple syrup)
- Spices (ginger, cinnamon, clove, cardamom, black pepper)
The spices vary depending on the recipe, but our favorite combination is cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, cloves, and ginger.
For a more authentic recipe and to learn more about this delicious Indian tea, see this video from Bhavna’s Kitchen.
For this latte you’ll need:
- black or chai tea
- ground or whole chai spices (listed below)
- sweetener of choice (cane sugar, maple syrup, stevia)
- dairy-free milk of choice (almond is best)
- raw cashews (optional for thickening)
- coconut whipped cream for topping (optional, but c’mon)
Because everyone really wants whipped cream on their latte. I will cry the day coffee shops offer dairy-free whip; tears of joy.
The method is simple and allows for customizing. Steep tea with spices in water. Sweeten to taste and add dairy-free milk for creaminess. Strain and serve.
At that point you can thicken with cashew cream and heat a little in the microwave or stovetop once more, and top with coconut whipped cream + ground cinnamon.
The result is a perfectly spicy-sweet chai latte that rivals most coffeehouse offerings.
If you try this chai latte, let us know what you think (and leave any tips you might have)! Leave a comment, tell us on social media, or our favorite – tag a picture #minimalistbaker on Instagram so we can see.
Vegan Chai Latte
- 2 cups water
- 1 heaping Tbsp loose leaf black tea*
- 2 Tbsp whole chai spice blend* (use less if ground)
- Cane sugar, maple syrup, or other sweetener of choice (to taste)*
- 1 cup unsweetened dairy-free milk (more to taste)
- Coconut Whipped Cream (for topping)
- 1/2 scant cup raw cashews (optional // soaked in cool water overnight or very hot water 1 hour – then drained)
- Add water, tea and spices to a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for another 10-15 minutes to fully steep.
- Remove from heat and add almond milk and sweetener of choice and stir. Warm for 2-3 minutes off the heat, and then pour over 2 serving mugs (amount as original recipe is written // adjust if altering batch size) using a fine mesh strainer.
- Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more for sugar or maple syrup (or honey if not vegan) for sweetness, and ground cinnamon for a little extra warmth.
- OPTIONAL: For extra creamy texture, add your chai tea mixture + soaked cashews to a blender and blend until creamy and smooth. Taste and adjust sweetness/seasonings as needed. I added more sweetener, ground cinnamon and ground ginger for extra spice.
- Either reheat briefly on the stovetop or microwave and serve. Heat modestly as the mixture can thicken quite a bit when reheated for too long (due to the cashews). If it gets too thick, thin with more almond milk or water.
- Top with coconut whip and a dash of cinnamon and serve. Leftovers keep well covered in the fridge for up to a few days, though best when fresh.
*Chai Spice Blend (if using ground spices): 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp ginger powder, 1/2 tsp each black pepper, ground cloves + cardamom (more tips at The Kitchn). Mix these spices together and then add according to desired spiciness.
*If you don’t have whole spices, use ground and then strain with a fine-mesh strainer.
*Don’t forget to adequately sweeten. If it’s overly spiced and under-sweetened, it’s a no go. When in doubt, add a little more sugar, maple syrup, agave or sweetener of choice.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate for 1 of 2 lattes calculated with 1 Tbsp sugar and without cashews.