Dirty Chai Latte



Dirty Chai Latte | Kitchen in the Hills

I am, by nature, a morning person. I have friends who would rather sleep in till noon, and would sacrifice their breakfast for an extra thirty minutes in bed daily. Not me. Don’t get me wrong— I have my bad days, too. I have my sleep-through-three-alarms-and-run-to-class mornings. But most days, I prefer to wake up early enough to read a book, make a small meal, and sit with a cup of coffee or tea before heading to school or work.

For the last week, I’ve been drinking dirty chai in place of my plain old cup of joe. That’s not a drink I usually have in the mornings, because it requires a trip to the coffee shop. But this week, I figured out how to make it at home. There’s something that feels just right about a warm, spicy, sweet, and highly caffeinated drink on a cool morning.

spices in a mortar and pestle

This recipe is for all of the other dirty chai-drinkers out there.

There must be someone else out there who loves a good dirty chai latte as much as I do. There has to be, right?

dirty chai lattes and cinnamon twist bread

Sometimes I think I’m the only person on earth who has ever heard of a dirty chai in the first place. Each time I mention the drink to a friend, I’m met with a blank stare and asked to explain myself.

For those who don’t know, a dirty chai is a chai latte with a shot of espresso. Nothing more, nothing less.

dirty chai latte base

If you haven’t heard of this lovely drink before, get acquainted. It’s delicious— rich, spicy, sweet, warming, and a double dose of caffeine. It’s the perfect drink for fall mornings.

dirty chai latte, recipe in progress

My favorite way to make this is as a chai-heavy, coffee-light vegan drink, topped with frothy almond milk.

dirty chai latte

Happy sipping.


Dirty Chai Latte


For the chai base:
  • 3 heaping tablespoons loose leaf black tea (or 6 tea bags)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 8 pods cardamom
  • 6 cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
  • 2 black peppercorns
  • 1/2 inch ginger, minced
  • 2 – 4 tablespoons sugar, or to taste
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup almond milk
For the coffee:
  • 1 cup strongly brewed coffee or 4 shots espresso
For the foam:
  • 1/4 cup almond milk per latte


  1. Lightly crush the spices with a mortar and pestle or a rolling pin. Place tea and all spices into a medium sized saucepan. Add water to cover. Bring to a simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. Add sugar and 1 cup almond milk, and return to a simmer.
  3. Remove tea from the heat and strain into a large jar. At this point, the tea can either be assembled into dirty chai lattes immediately, or stored in the fridge for 3-4 days.
  4. Pour 3/4 cup of chai into each mug. Then, add a shot of espresso or 1/4 cup of strongly brewed coffee to each one. Stir well.
  5. Top each latte with steamed almond milk. You can do this with a steamer, a frother, or a jar. To use the jar method, put a few tablespoons of boiling almond milk in a small jar. Seal and shake for 30-60 seconds. The milk should be foamy and can be poured directly into the drink. Foam milk separately for each latte.


Almond milk can be substituted with dairy or soy. The sugar can be replaced with honey or another alternate sweetener.

Use the best coffee you can find, or serve this up as a plain chai latte. The quality of the coffee will make a big difference in the final flavor of this drink.

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