Is an iced chai tea latte healthy?

Quick Answer

An iced chai tea latte can be a healthy beverage choice in moderation. Chai tea lattes are made from black tea, spices like cinnamon, cardamom and ginger, milk, and sweeteners. Black tea contains antioxidants that can benefit health. Spices like cinnamon have anti-inflammatory properties. Milk provides protein, vitamins and minerals. However, chai lattes also contain saturated fat and added sugar, so they should be consumed in moderation to avoid excessive calories. Opting for skim or low-fat milk and less sweetener can help make a chai tea latte healthier. Overall, an iced chai tea latte can be part of a balanced diet when consumed in moderation and made with healthy ingredients.

What is a Chai Tea Latte?

A chai tea latte is a sweetened, spiced tea drink that is usually made with black tea, spices, milk and sweetener. The word “chai” comes from the Hindi word for tea. The term “latte” refers to the use of steamed milk, which gives the beverage a creamy texture similar to a cafe latte.

Some of the key ingredients in a chai latte include:

Black Tea

Chai lattes are brewed using black tea leaves. Black tea is made from the Camellia sinensis plant and contains antioxidants including polyphenols and flavonoids. These antioxidants can help reduce inflammation and lower the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes. Black tea also contains caffeine, which provides an energizing effect.


A chai latte contains a blend of spices that give it its signature flavor. Common spices in a chai latte include:

  • Cinnamon: Has anti-inflammatory properties and helps regulate blood sugar
  • Cardamom: Aids digestion and prevents gas
  • Ginger: Reduces nausea, pain and inflammation
  • Cloves: Have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects
  • Black pepper: Boosts absorption of nutrients
  • Star anise: Has antioxidant and antibacterial effects

These spices not only provide a warming, aromatic flavor, but many of them provide health benefits.


Chai lattes typically use cow’s milk or plant-based milk like soy or almond milk. Cow’s milk provides protein, calcium, vitamin D and other nutrients. However, it also contains saturated fat and calories. Plant-based milks have fewer calories, but may be lower in protein and other nutrients.


Sugar or other sweeteners like honey or agave nectar are used to sweeten a chai latte. Sweeteners add calories and should be used in moderation.

Nutrition Facts of an Iced Chai Tea Latte

The nutrition of a chai latte can vary depending on the exact ingredients and sizes. But here is the approximate nutrition information for a 16-ounce iced chai tea latte made with 2% milk and sugar-based syrup:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 230
Total Fat 8 g
Saturated Fat 5 g
Protein 7 g
Carbohydrates 33 g
Sugar 31 g
Caffeine 35 mg

As you can see, a 16-oz chai latte provides a significant amount of calories, carbohydrates and added sugar. The caffeine content is moderate at 35mg, compared to about 100mg in a regular coffee.

The Pros of an Iced Chai Tea Latte

So what are some potential health benefits of drinking an iced chai tea latte in moderation?

Provides Antioxidants from Black Tea

The black tea used to brew a chai latte contains flavonoids like theaflavins and thearubigins that function as antioxidants in the body. Antioxidants help counter oxidative stress caused by free radicals and inflammation. This can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes and brain disorders.

However, the amount of antioxidants in a heavily diluted, sweetened chai latte is likely modest compared to drinking straight black tea. But the tea still contributes some antioxidant activity.

Anti-Inflammatory Spices

Spices like cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and black pepper have anti-inflammatory properties. Chronic inflammation is involved in diseases like arthritis, diabetes, cancer and autoimmune disorders. The active compounds in these spices, like cinnamaldehyde in cinnamon and gingerol in ginger, can help inhibit inflammatory enzymes and pathways in the body.

Again, the amounts of these spices are relatively small in a chai latte. But they may still help provide an anti-inflammatory effect when consumed regularly as part of a healthy diet.

Provides Caffeine for Energy

The black tea used in a chai latte contains caffeine, typically around 25-35mg per 8oz serving. This is less than coffee, but still provides a energizing effect without being excessive for most people. Caffeine has been linked to increased alertness, focus and concentration.

However, those sensitive to caffeine may want to opt for a decaf chai. Excessive caffeine can cause jitteriness, insomnia and heart palpitations in some.

Can Be a Calcium Source if Made with Milk

A chai latte made using cow’s milk provides a good amount of calcium in one serving. An 8oz glass can provide around 300mg of calcium, or 30% of the recommended daily intake.

Calcium is essential for bone health, muscle function and nerve signaling. Those who don’t consume other calcium-rich foods like yogurt and cheese may benefit from the calcium in a milk-based chai latte. However, calcium is lacking for those opting for plant-based milk.

Satisfies a Sweet Tooth

The sugar and spices in a chai latte give it a delicious sweet-spicy flavor that can help satisfy a sweet tooth. Within moderation, it can be a more nutritious option than other high-sugar desserts or beverages. Focus on minimizing added sugars and sweeteners to just enough to satisfy your craving.

The Cons of an Iced Chai Tea Latte

Despite some potential benefits, there are also some downsides of drinking iced chai tea lattes regularly:

High in Calories and Sugar

One of the biggest drawbacks of a chai latte is the high sugar and calorie content, especially in larger or more elaborate recipes. Sugar is often one of the main ingredients, along with milk or cream. Just one 16-ounce chai latte can provide up to 14 teaspoons of sugar and over 200 calories.

Consuming excess calories and added sugar from beverages is linked to weight gain, blood sugar spikes, inflammation, fatty liver disease and other negative effects. Those watching their sugar and waistline should minimize chai latte consumption.

Contains Saturated Fat from Milk

Chai lattes made from cow’s milk also contain saturated fat, with around 5 grams in a 16-ounce serving. While dairy fat isn’t necessarily problematic for everyone, consuming too much saturated fat from meat and dairy is associated with increased LDL cholesterol, heart disease risk and inflammation.

Those with heart disease risk factors like high cholesterol may want to minimize saturated fat from chai lattes by using plant-based milk and limiting portion sizes.

Caffeine Can Cause Side Effects in Some

While the moderate caffeine content provides an energizing lift for most people, those sensitive to stimulants may experience unwanted side effects from a chai latte. Symptoms like anxiety, insomnia, headache and rapid heartbeat may occur.

Pregnant women should limit caffeine intake to under 200mg per day. Children and adolescents should also minimize caffeine consumption for optimal health.

Easy to Overconsume as a Calorie-Dense Beverage

Since chai lattes are consumed as a beverage rather than solid food, they can be easy to overdrink without feeling satiated. Before you know it, you may have consumed several hundred discretionary calories and grams of sugar with little nutritional benefit. It’s best to treat chai lattes as an occasional treat rather than a daily habit.

How to Make a Healthier Iced Chai Tea Latte

Here are some tips for lightening up your iced chai latte to make it a healthier beverage:

– Use skim or low-fat dairy milk. This removes much of the saturated fat found in whole milk.

– Opt for plant-based milk like unsweetened soy or almond milk to remove dairy altogether.

– Choose sugar-free flavor syrups instead of sugary syrups or sweeteners.

– Add just a splash of your sweetener of choice instead of saturating the drink.

– Request less or no whipped cream to trim calories and fat.

– Ask for light ice or no ice to get more of the healthy tea and spice benefits.

– Stick to a small 12-ounce latte instead of supersized options.

– Combine with healthy breakfast foods like oatmeal or yogurt instead of drinking alone.

– Homemade chai lattes can be healthier if you control ingredients. Use minimal added sweeteners.

With some modifications to ingredients and portion size, an iced chai tea latte can be a relatively healthy beverage choice within a balanced diet. But it’s still an indulgence worth consuming only on occasion rather than daily.

Healthier Alternatives to Iced Chai Tea Lattes

If you’re looking to limit your intake of sweetened chai lattes, here are some healthier beverage alternatives that still provide great flavor:

Iced Black Tea

Brew plain black tea and pour it over ice. Add some fresh lemon slices or mint leaves for flavor. You’ll obtain antioxidants from the tea without excess calories.

Iced Green Tea Latte

Make a latte using matcha green tea powder or loose leaf green tea. Green tea also provides antioxidants and less caffeine than black tea.

Dirty Chai Latte

Order a chai latte made with a shot of espresso. The strong coffee reduces the need for extra sweetener.

Spiced Almond Milk

Heat almond milk with your favorite chai spices like cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and nutmeg. Sweeten if desired.

Cinnamon Spice Tea

Try a commercial cinnamon spice herbal tea. These provide delicious spice flavor without caffeine or calories.

Sparkling Chai Tea

Mix brewed chai tea concentrate with sparkling water and ice for arefreshing, light option.

The Bottom Line

An iced chai tea latte can provide some beneficial antioxidants, spices, and nutrients. However, the high amounts of added sugar, calories, saturated fat and easy drinkability can make it an unhealthy choice if consumed daily or in excess.

As an occasional treat in modest portions, chai lattes can be part of a healthy, balanced diet. But they shouldn’t be viewed as nutrition powerhouses. Individuals watching their weight, blood sugar levels or heart health should limit intake or choose healthier alternatives.

Preparing chai lattes at home using lower sugar, healthy fats and fewer calories can help keep this beverage an occasional indulgence rather than liquid dessert. While delicious, chai lattes aren’t essential for health like other drinks such as plain water, teas, coffee and vegetable juices.

Overall, iced chai tea lattes are a tasty beverage whose health effects ultimately depend on the frequency, portion size and ingredients used to make them. Consumed occasionally and made with care, they can fit into a healthy lifestyle.

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