Ever wondered how tea and chai differ? Read my blog about tea versus chai and learn the points where they differ or are similar through 27 prime attributes.

I am a passionate Tea blogger who cannot miss out on her daily tea ritual. This love for the beverage has made me open a tea cafe in the northern part of Kolkata city. I love to write about topics that centre around tea and nothing can be more interesting than learning about tea v/s chai. 

Tea v/s Chai: 27 Key Differences

Tea Versus Chai: 27 Differential But Detrimental Aspects Worth Knowing

I am a fan of tea and which is called Chai in my country. We all have this common misconception that since tea is called chai there is no difference between them. However, my 27 points will help you clear this popular misconception and you will know that the two drinks are as different as chalk and cheese.


A hot and a cold beverage


A hot beverage






Mushroom Tea

Herbal Tea

Fruit Tea


Kashmiri Noon chai

Indian Masala chai

Bombay Cutting Chai


33 milligrams-50 milligrams


25 milligrams-55 milligrams











Purple Tea

Green Rooibos










Morning booster

Stress killer

Relieves sore throat


Keeps warm

Instant reliever from cold

Keeps heart healthy


Tea leaves

Milk and sugar(optional)



Milk and sweeteners




















3 mins


2-5 mins


5-15 mins












After meals


















21st May


21st May






Not Likely









Can be enjoyed hot/cold

Caffeine boost

Makes for great conversations


Keeps cold at bay

Energy booster

Increases memory




Taj Mahal


Mystic Chai


Tata Agni


Mint leaves


Chocolate Powder


Whipped cream

Lemon slice

Chia seeds

Now that we have an idea about the points that will be the center of discussion let us now see how the two teas fare and get to know them more closely by reading about them in detail below.

1. What is The Best Way to Define Tea and Chai?

When speaking about tea one often means a hot concoction that is prepared by combing the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant (which is harvested, dried, and processed)with hot water. It is often had in the raw form ie, just the leaves infused with hot water. Cream or sweeteners are added as an option to enhance the flavor profile & can be enjoyed as a hot and cold beverage.

Chai colloquially is a drink that has a strong tea as the base. The taste is balanced with the help of spices, aromatic herbs, and milk. Sweeteners may be added but that is dependent on the drinker. With times the drink has evolved a lot and nowadays tea cafes have come up with Chai Lattes(cold beverages) and which is soothing to the palette.

2. The Origin is A Gripping Tale And One Worth Knowing

Have you ever wondered how tea and chai came into existence? Well, the story is anything but boring and one which always has me hooked.

Tea originated in Southwest China under the Shang dynasty of the Yunnan region. It was an accidental discovery in the 3rd century & was called a medicinal drink. Today the drink has the whole world addicted to it.

The roots of chai can be traced back to more than 5,000 years. Discovered by an Indian king it was more commonly consumed as an ayurvedic drink and was infused with spices and aromatic herbs. Indian saints(rishis) often used it to cure ailments or diseases and it soon came to be known as a healing drink.

3. Ever Considered The Various Options Both Tea and Chai Offers?

Tea and chai both have come a long way in both physical and aesthetic appeal. Experts are constantly upgrading their game and there is no reason why tea lovers should be behind.

Tea boosts of the milky variety, herbal range, oolong, black tea. white tea to name a few. Bubble tea is the newest addition to the family and if you are wondering what the drink is all about do read my blog about 27 awesome reasons that make bubble tea so special. 

Chai on the other hand is not far behind and it too is gearing its game. India is known as “The Largest Tea Society of The World” and rightly so for the options are as varied as the drink. The Indian Masala chai(made with spices, milk, and sweeteners)is one variety that is found extensively in India. Region-specific varieties include Lal chai or Red chai of Assam, Lebu Chai(Lemon)of West Bengal, Kahwah, and Sheer Chai of  Kashmir valley are some options that are worth a cup.

4. Let Us Evaluate Them For Their Caffeine Content

Tea and coffee both contain Caffeine. This helps to stay awake and aid in opening groggy eyes by giving an energy booster.  Therefore, let us consider the level in both the teas respectively.

The caffeine in chai ranges from  25 mg-55 mg. One can say that the level is on the higher side but, when compared with coffee is much lower.  You can customize the level as you deem fit. I recommend options for caffeine-free versions like fruit teas or herbal teas. 

The caffeine level in tea can vary from 33 milligrams to 50 milligrams. This goes without saying that the tea leaves play a vital role as the amount of caffeine varies from one tea to another.

5. Tea and Chai Are Loved In Different Parts of The World

Tea and chai have been around since ancient times and each drink has its fair share of takers. Let us though consider the places where these drinks are immensely popular.

Tea found its roots in China so it goes without saying that it is popular in China but, has drinkers in India(The Largest Tea Society Of The World), Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Ireland, the UK.

On the other hand, the term Chai is India’s gift to the world. We already know the meaning of Chai(a drink that is teamed with spices, milk, and other condiments to a typical hot beverage)& thus it is but natural that it will have more patrons in India and different regions have their own local versions. Apart from India, it is popular in countries like America, Canada, China. 

6. Comparing Tea & Chai in Terms of Some Unique Flavors They Offer

Tea and chai experts are constantly upgrading their game and thus, we see a new variety practically every day. Don’t you think that when the drinks are always pulling new tricks out of their sleeves we too should be open to experimentation? Let us compare them for some unheard flavors.

Tea has Kukicha(also called Twig tea is made from the stems, stalks, and twigs), Purple Tea(Kenya), Green Rooibos, Yerba Mate(South America), Belgian Mint Tea are some unheard but, must-try flavors.

Chai has Fennel, Mocha, Star Anise, Mushroom, Pepper, Coriander, Nutmeg as some options that are giving tough competition to Tea. 

7. Weighing Tea And Chai For The Usage Of Spices

Spices are often used to add flavor to food but, their contribution to drinks is unparalleled. Let us see how tea and chai scale on the usage of spices.

Tea is high on the usage of spices. If you come to India and visit cities that are near the Himalayas you will find teas that have been infused with spices as they help keep the body warm and also protects against the harsh weather.

Chai too like its counterpart is highly dependent on the usage of spices and the Indian Masala Chai is a befitting example. This chai uses spices like ginger, cardamom, cloves. 

8. Let Us Match-Up Tea and Chai Based On The Benefits Offered

Let us evaluate the two drinks based on the benefits they offer.

Tea apart from being known as the second most hydrating drink after water also has other advantages. It protects heart health, helps in digestion, weight loss, is an instant cure for headaches, improves sleep cycle, etc, are some merits in its cap. 

Chai on the other hand protects from cold and cough, relieves sore throat, helps one stay hydrated are some top benefits. 

9. Evaluating Tea and Chai Based On The Ingredients That Goes Into Making An Ideal Cup

Ingredients are the elements that form the base of any food or drink and we shall compare tea and based on the ingredients that go into making an ideal cup.

A typical serving of tea has a strong tea base that is brewed with hot water and steeped for 1-4 minutes depending on the consistency you want. Milk and sweeteners are added as an option.

Chai has milk, tea leaves, Chai masala(the main component that gives chai its name)are some ingredients that make an ideal cup.

10. Analysing The Differences Between Tea and Chai Based On Tea Leaves Usage

Let us compare tea and chai based on the polarity of the tea leaves usage.

Tea from ancient times has been known as a medicinal drink and as a matter of fact, was used by using spices. Milk and sugar are the two ingredients that were added to the drink later for taste enhancements. It would also be apt to mention that tea isn’t dependent on milk and sugar and black tea or Japanese teas are a testimony to this fact.

Chai on the other hand is highly dependent on tea leaves usage though which would depend upon the kind of brew you prefer. Milk is further added that helps in balancing the otherwise bitter taste. However, the choice to add milk is user-based and depends on the concoction you love to drink.

11. Comparing Tea and Chai Based On Their Milk Dependency

While sipping on your chosen beverage has the thought of the drink being dependent on milk crossed your mind? Let us compare them on how they fare when it comes to milk dominance.

Tea has been known as a medicinal drink to which spices were further added. This made the tea quite bitter and modern times have paved the way for milk tea that tones down the bitterness. Sugar is further added to add a sweet quotient. Having said this, their addition depends from person to person. I love my milk tea to be strong and with added sweeteners.

Chai on the other hand dwells heavily on the usage of spices. Milk and sweeteners are the latest additions that make for a great cup and their usage depends on the version you are making.

12. Weighing Tea and Chai for Their Sugar Usage

Sugar adds an element of sweetness when added to food and beverages. Let us compare how tea and chai weigh up in terms of sugar usage.

Tea is preferred in its raw form ie, the leaves are added to boiling water and consumed hot. Black tea, Matcha tea, Oolong, Green tea are some teas that are preferred without sugar. 

On the other hand, chai is highly dependent on sugar that increases the taste quotient. Indian Masala Chai is an outstanding specimen that fits the bill to the tea(Pun intended). I am a self-proclaimed tea lover and being a diabetic, Sugar-Free is a boon for me. However, you can choose Stevia or Splenda that acts just like Sugar-Free.  I highly suggest opting for more beneficial sugar substitutes like jaggery, coconut sugar, sugar alcohol, chocolate, etc. Now, if the options has you intrigued read my blog about 31 ways to sweeten tapioca pearls and get to know about them in detail. 

13. Can Tea and Chai Be Customized As Herbal and Healthy Options

If you are a tea or a chai lover and a weight watcher at the same time then let us take a look at some herbal and healthy options that both drinks offer.

Matcha tea, Lavender, Rooibos, Hibiscus, Mango, Blueberry are some teas that not only offer a great taste but, at the same time are made keeping the calorie-conscious in mind.

Chai is not far behind and options like cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, mushroom, fennel, pepper, mint make for a pleasurable drinking experience and help keep fit.

14. Comparing The Brewing Time Of The Respective Drinks

Brewing time is best described as the duration that involves making tea and it differs based on user preferences. Let us compare tea and chai for their brewing time.

There is no ideal time for brewing tea and it depends on the consistency you prefer. Tea is something I learned to make at an early age and as far as I remember, I never did time it and to date, it is something that I love to make. I brew the hot liquid with the tea leaves till the liquid has become dark brown in color and then I add milk. I further brew it for 1-4 minutes approximately.

Chai involves the usage of spices that is directly proportionate to the tea leaves used and also on the texture and consistency you desire the ideal time can range from 3-15 minutes(as is the case with some herbal infusions).

15. Comparing The Steeping Time For Tea & Chai

Steeping is the process of extracting flavor from the lea leaves and forms the crux of how the drink is made. If tea or chai is steeped longer than required the end result will be a bitter beverage and thus, the right balance is essential. Let us see the steeping time for tea and chai respectively.

Tea should be steeped for 2-5 minutes and depending on the tea leaves used. I though steep my tea for 1-4 minutes approximately or till I am happy with the color of the liquid.

On the other hand, chai shouldn’t be steeped for more than 15 minutes as it would make the drink bitter and unpleasant to drink.

16. Considering The Approach Of The World When It Comes to Drinking Tea And Chai

When it comes to tea and chai the drinking style for both the drinks varies from one country to another. Let us now check how the world enjoys its cup of tea and chai. “Tea lovers love to say Tea is by sea as chai is to land “, and quite literally too. Tea was introduced to the world through the mode of trading done by ships and chai through the land.

The way the world drinks tea is as varied as the drink itself. The many ways to drink tea as the Britishers prefer is by adding lemon, honey, or milk, while in the USA tea is enjoyed without milk.

Chai, however, is best enjoyed with milk and the addition of sweeteners. India, a country that has been termed as “The Largest Tea Society of the World”, has its own versions of the concerned beverages & is probably the only country where tea and chai are equally celebrated.

17. Weighing Tea and Chai On Their Gluten-Free Nature

By now you have learned a fair amount of how tea and chai compare based on various attributes. Let us now check them out for their gluten-free nature.

The basic version of tea contains tea, sugar, milk, and contains no gluten. This makes it a  safe option for people who have a gluten allergy.

Chai too is also a gluten-free drink. As a result, everyone can enjoy the drink.

18. The Time That Tea & Chai Are Best Enjoyed Is an Interesting Factor Worth Knowing

Every drink has a time when it is best enjoyed and our concerned drinks are no different or so you may think. Well, tea enthusiasts will tell you that there is no time to enjoy the drinks and varies from one person to the other.

Tea is an anytime drink though you may hear suggestions to drink it at certain intervals. I wouldn’t deny this for some Japanese tea and other forms like green tea or black tea are best when drunk after workouts and as a post-meal beverage respectively.

Chai on the other hand can be drunk any time of the day. For me the mornings I don’t get masala chai, I feel lethargic and find sailing through the day quite a task.

19. Differentiating Tea and Chai Based On Their Consistency And Texture

Consistency and texture act as the defining differential point between tea and chai thus, it cannot be ignored.

Tea has a lighter texture with a smooth consistency derived from milk.

On the other hand, chai has a light and spicy texture from the addition of spices that makes you want to soak up the aromatics and make chai drinking a moment to unwind.

20. Let us See The Food Pairings With Tea & Chai

Tea tastes better when paired with munchies and this point will cover some snacks or accompaniments that pair so well with chai and tea. Let me also tell you that any food works great with both the drinks and I am mentioning just some pairings.

Tea can be paired with food items such as biscuits, pancakes, tea time cakes, cheese(I love my cheese with tea and am going to write a blog on what goes with cheese tea), salads(depending on the type of tea), assorted bread, etc.

Chai pairs well with cookies, crackers, cakes, wafers, scones, crumpets, etc. 

21. Comparing the Vegan-Friendly Nature of the Teas

The changing times have seen a rise for drinks that are Vegan Friendly. This has taken the food and beverage industry too by storm. So, then how can bubble tea and milk tea be behind?

Tea isn’t far behind and boosts oat, coconut, and hemp amongst the many available options.

Chai can be made from hazelnut milk, soy milk, and other plant-based milk.

22. Tea & Chai Are Both are Celebrated on Different Days

Have you ever considered days when tea and chai lovers the world over rejoice? If your answer is no, let us see when you to can join the celebrations.

21st May is a day when tea lovers across the globe rejoice. It is worth mentioning that 15th December is considered as International Tea Day in many tea-growing nations like India, Sri Lanka, Kenya to draw the attention of the government and citizens alike.

For chai lovers, the day of celebration is  21st May as it has to celebrate its special day with tea.

23. Differentiating Between The Two Popular Beverages Based on Teabags Usage

Teabags are small pouches filled with tea and are used in most tea-loving countries. All you need to do is just dip it in hot water till the desired color is reached.

When we talk about tea, tea bags are very commonly used in most countries to brew the perfect cup.

However. when we talk about chai, tea bags are seldom used. Bubble tea in most places is prepared using loose leaf tea.

24. Let Us See The Serving Size That Both Drinks Offer

The serving style is another beautiful point that adds to the differences between tea and chai.  Let us see how they differ in this aspect.

Tea is best enjoyed when sipped directly from a cup or glass and if served cold a straw is used. Some varieties like fruit teas are best enjoyed when served cold.

Chai on the other hand is a drink that is best enjoyed hot and to which milk & a sweetener is added to enhance the taste. Moreover, chai can be bland or bitter, and adding milk or a sweetener helps by cutting down on the bitterness. We Indians love our chai with milk and sweeteners added to our drink.

25. Reasons That Have Made Them Popular

Tea and chai are both immensely popular drinks and we will be seeing the reasons that have paved the way for their popularity. Tea apart from being high on antioxidants offers tons of other benefits like its caffeine content, customization level, keeps you hydrated, etc are some reasons that have made it so popular. I have also written a blog about 27 reasons that will make you love tea even more. Do read it and share your favorite reason in the comments section below.

Chai is best enjoyed when served hot and thus, makes it an ideal winter drink. Nowadays chai lattes are a trend and if you are the sorts who love the road that is less traveled then chai lattes should be on your list. 

26. Knowing Some Popular Brands Of Tea & Chai

Time to get familiar with some brands that both drinks offer.

Tea boosts of Twinings, Tetley, Taj Mahal, Canton, Lipton, Tazo, Brooke Bond are some erstwhile tea brands.

Chai has brands like Twinings of London, Mystic Chai, Teapigs, Tata Agni are some names to reckon with.

27. Comparing The Drinks Based On The Toppings They Offer

I love the cute little additions called toppings that sit so comfortably on a drink and I recommend trying them with your teas.

Tea offers toppings like mint leaves, parsley, coffee powder, cream, cinnamon powder, chocolate balls, wafers, kit-kat bars, cookie crumbs and each tastes divine. 

Chai on the other hand has toppings up its sleeves and boots options like a lemon slice, nutmeg, whipped cream, chocolate wafers, star anise, caramel, fruit slices, and chia seeds. 


This concludes my blog and I would love to hear your opinion on the two teas. Now, if you feel you have something to share or ask me any questions, kindly drop them in the comments section below and I will gladly answer them for you. Be safe and drink tea. I would also like to tell you that there is more to know about tea than this blog and I love writing about them. So, that you don’t miss out on any topics I suggest you sign for my newsletter and be informed as soon as a new blog is published. Just go to sippersneha.com & select the “About” Tab. 

Happy Sipping!