Make your Own Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte
with low-fat, non-dairy, and low-sugar options
I have some friends from India that I met in California. Many years ago, they introduced me to chai tea–a sweet, milky drink spiced with exotic Indian spices–and it has since become a necessity in my morning routine. Some people can’t start their day without coffee–I can’t start my day without chai. I keep 4 to 5 different varieties of chai tea bags on hand at all times, and I take an assortment of them with me when I travel. As long as I can find some hot water and milk in the morning, I am set. My very favorite chai tea bags are:
- Tazo Organic Chai: it has a peppery bite to it. This is what I usually start with.
- Stash Premium Double Spice Chai Black Tea: Intense with spices. I like that.
- Twinings French Vanilla Chai: A mellow, sweet, vanilla tasting chai.
- Celestial Seasonings Decaf Sweet Coconut Chai: the coconut with the chai is heavenly.
So no, you don’t have to go to a coffee shop to get a great chai latte. Save yourself a lot of money and make your own at home. You can easily do this as a Pumpkin Espresso Latte by skipping the tea bags and adding a couple shots of espresso at the end. I’ll give you a simplified microwave version too … just in case you’re in a hurry. I always seem to be in a hurry …
Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte
Highly adapted from the kitchn’s recipe for Pumpkin Spice Latte (the coffee-inated kind).
makes 1-2 servings
- 2 cups milk (you can use lowfat, nonfat or soy/almond/coconut milk–whatever you like! If you want to cut calories even further, you can use half skim milk/half water)
- 3 teaspoons of Pumpkin Spice Syrup (recipe below)
- 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Sugar or sweetener to taste
- 2 chai tea bags (or for a less-spiced drink, use black, white or green tea bags)
- In a saucepan combine milk, pumpkin spice syrup and sugar (or sugar substitute).
- Set the tea bags in the liquid and cook on medium heat, stirring, until steaming.
- Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla and pumpkin pie spice, then remove the tea bags.
- Transfer to a blender and process for 15 seconds until foamy. If you don’t have a blender, don’t worry about it – just whisk the mixture really well with a wire whisk.
- Pour into a large mug or two mugs.
Quickie microwave directions: Fill your mug with milk (or half milk/half water, which is what I usually do). Microwave for 2 – 3 minutes or until it’s as hot as you like your tea. Add a chai tea bag, then add 2 t. pumpkin spice syrup, 1/2 t. vanilla, and sweeten to taste with your choice of sweetener. Let steep for a few minutes. Stir with a spoon to mix–or if you want that frothy latte effect, take out the tea bag and whir it briefly with a hand blender.
Optional: Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, or cinnamon–or for a really decadent treat, drizzle the top of the whipped cream with a little salted caramel sauce. I just sprinkled mine with a little nutmeg.
Pumpkin Spice Syrup
Adapted from Annie’s Eats
- 1½ cups water
- 1½ cups sugar (I substituted half of the sugar with stevia so I used: 3/4 c. sugar + 18 packets of stevia)
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp. ground ginger (or put a little nub of peeled fresh ginger root in the water as it’s cooking)
- 4 whole cloves
- 2 tsp. ginger sugar (this is the sugar that falls down off the ginger when you are making candied ginger–if you don’t have any ginger sugar, you can skip this. It just adds a little extra zip to the syrup.)
- 3 tbsp. pumpkin puree
- Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan and heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has completely dissolved.
- Toss in the cinnamon sticks and cloves, then whisk in the remaining spices and the pumpkin puree.
- Continue to cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, without letting the mixture come to a boil. If you screw up and it does accidentally come to a boil, I don’t think it’s that big of a deal — mine did and the syrup tasted fine!
- Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes.
- Strain the syrup through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth and funnel into a bottle or jar.
- Store in the refrigerator.