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Dirty Chai Latte: What’s in It & How to Order from Starbucks

Starbucks dirty chai lattes are custom drinks that are not on the menu. Here's a look at what's in a dirty chai tea latte, how it tastes, and 7 ways you can order this combination chai and espresso drink from Starbucks.
A hot Starbucks dirty chai tea latte with lid off showing creamy chai and espresso.

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What’s a Dirty Chai Latte?

A dirty chai is a simply a chai tea latte beverage with shots of espresso added in. The latte can be ordered hot with steamed milk or iced.

Any coffeeshop that serves chai lattes can easily make a dirty chai, even if it’s not on the menu.

What’s in a Dirty Chai

A Dirty Chai at Starbucks is a chai tea latte combined with a shot of espresso.

A dirty chai has three components and they are chai tea, milk and espresso.

While this drink is simple to make, it brings together an array of flavors.

The chai tea itself is a mixture of black tea infused with warming spices like cinnamon, clove, cardamom and ginger.

The espresso, adds some roastiness to the drink.

How it Tastes

Starbucks chai tea lattes are pretty sweet drinks. The chai concentrate itself is sweetened with sugar and honey. A somewhat bitter shot of espresso, cuts down the perceived sweetness and brings in roasty coffee notes. Overall, the chai and espresso play nicely together and it’s a very pleasant sip.

Caffeine Content

As you can imagine, bringing together black tea and espresso, provides a little bit of a caffeine kick.

Starbucks chai drinks are actually their most caffeinated type of tea drink. For example, the caffeine content for a grande size chai latte clocks in at 95mg.

And each each shot of espresso at Starbucks adds another 75-85mg of caffeine.

Overall, a grande dirty chai at Starbucks made with dark roast espresso contains 170mg of caffeine. And a blonde roast dirty chai has about 180mg of caffeine. Keep in mind, Starbucks also has decaf espresso.

For more caffeine, some people like to order a double dirty chai with two shots of espresso. The caffeine content for a Starbucks double dirty chai is about 240-250mg.

Kinds of Dirty Chai Drinks

Basically, there are three kinds of dirty chai drinks:

  1. Hot Dirty Chai Tea Latte: made with steamed milk
  2. Iced Dirty Chai Tea Latte: made with chilled milk and ice
  3. Dirty Chai Blended Beverage: blended with ice, milk and frappuccino syrup

7 Ways to Order a Starbucks Dirty Chai Latte

A Starbucks dirty chai latte is a customized drink, meaning it’s not listed on the menu but can easily be ordered by adding ingredients to a base beverage.

Since a dirty chai has both chai and espresso, you can begin by ordering either a chai tea latte or a Caffè Latte espresso beverage.

If you order a chai tea latte then you will customize it with shots of espresso added in. If you begin with a regular espresso latte you will customize it with pumps of chai syrup.

BARISTA TIP: To order a double dirty chai from Starbucks, get a grande Caffè Latte (espresso drink) and customize it with chai syrup. It’s cheaper than ordering a chai tea latte customized with two shots of espresso.

Here’s a closer look at seven ways to combine chai and espresso at Starbucks.

1. Chai Tea Latte with Espresso Shots

Chai Concentrate + Water + Steamed 2% Milk + Espresso

To order a dirty chai at Starbucks get a chai tea latte with a shot of espresso blended in the drink or poured on top affogato style.

How to Order: Order a Chai Tea Latte from the hot tea menu (short, tall, grande or venti) and customize it with a shot of espresso.

2. Iced Chai Tea Latte with Espresso Shots

Chai Concentrate + Water + 2% Milk + Ice + Espresso

How to Order: Order an Iced Chai Tea Latte from Starbucks cold tea menu (tall, grande or venti) and customize it with a shot of espresso.

3. Brewed Organic Chai Tea Latte with Espresso Shots

Teavana Organic Chai Tea Bag(s) + Hot Water + Steamed 2% Milk + Espresso

How to Order: For this drink you want to order a chai tea latte made with chai tea bags and not from chai concentrate. There’s not a way to do this on the Starbucks app so you will have to order it in-person.

To do so, ask for a chai tea latte made with tea bags (not chai concentrate) with a shot of espresso. For sweetness, ask for liquid cane sugar or a sweetener of your choice.

Alternatively, for a sweet dirty chai made from tea bags order a Royal English Breakfast Tea which already comes with liquid cane sugar. Then just ask for Teavana Organic Chai tea bags in place of Royal English Breakfast. Of course, add-on a shot of espresso to make it dirty.

4. Caffè Latte with Chai Syrup

Espresso + Steamed 2% Milk + Chai Concentrate

How to Order: Order a Caffè Latte from the hot coffees section of the Starbucks menu. Turn it into a dirty chai by customizing it with a pumps of chai.

One thing to note; ordering a dirty chai with a Caffè Latte as the base drink has a stronger chai flavor compared to a dirty chai whose base drink is a chai tea latte.

This is because a chai tea latte has water added to it since Starbucks chai tea syrup is concentrated. Take that into account when selecting the number of pumps of chai to add to a Caffè Latte.

5. Iced Caffè Latte with Chai Syrup

Espresso + 2% Milk+ Chai Concentrate + Ice

How to Order: Select an Iced Caffè Latte from the cold coffees section on the Starbucks app. Click customize to add pumps of chai syrup.

6. Chai Frappuccino with Affogato-Style Shot

Chai Concentrate + Ice + Whole Milk +Creme Frappuccino Syrup + Brewed Espresso + Whipped Cream + Cinnamon

How to Order: Order a Chai Creme Frappuccino from the Frappuccino Blended Beverages menu section on the Starbucks app. Then, to make it a dirty chai frappuccino, customize it by selecting “Add Affogato-Style Shots” in the “Espresso & Shot Options” section. You can also choose the espresso roast—signature, blonde or decaf.

BARISTA TIP: To order a dirty chai frappuccino, order it with affogato shots. This way, the espresso will be poured over the completed frappuccino (before the whipped cream) and overall it will come out thicker than blending in the espresso.

7. Espresso Frappuccino with Chai Syrup

Brewed Espresso + Chai Concentrate + Ice + Whole Milk +Coffee Frappuccino Syrup

How to Order: To customize a regular Espresso Frappuccino into a dirty chai frappuccino, you need to order it in-person. This is because the option to add tea/chai isn’t available on the app for this drink.

All you have to do is order an espresso frappuccino and ask for chai syrup to be blended in.

Dirty Chai Ordering Options at Starbucks

Size Options

A Starbucks Iced Dirty Chai is available in sizes tall, grande or venti. This is true whether you order an Iced Chai or Iced Caffè Latte as the base drink.

Likewise, the size options for a dirty chai frappuccino are tall, grande and venti.

A hot dirty chai comes in four Starbucks sizes: short, tall, grande and venti.

Espresso Roast Options

Starbucks Signature Espresso is a dark roast and is used for almost all their espresso beverages. It’s considered the standard.

Other options include blonde roast which contains more caffeine than dark, as well as decaf espresso.

Espresso Preparation Options

Starbucks prepares espresso shots three ways and you can customize a dirty chai using any espresso preparation method.

There’s a standard shot of espresso, ristretto, or long shots.

This Starbucks lingo guide explains what each shot term means. Or, checkout Starbucks Espresso Shots: Sizes, Caffeine & Options for a more detailed explanation.

In short, each type of shot is pulled with a different amount of water and different extraction times. This affects the taste of the espresso, as well as caffeine content.

Questions You May Have

Can you get a vegan or dairy-free dirty chai tea latte from Starbucks?

Starbucks does not claim to make any drinks vegan or dairy-free since there is shared equipment and cross-contamination is possible. That being said, to order a Starbucks dirty chai made with dairy-free or vegan ingredients, simply substitute the milk for an alternative plant-based milk such as almond, oat, soy or coconut. Additionally, skip the whipped cream on dirty chai frappuccinos.

Does Starbucks have a healthy, sugar-free dirty chai latte option?

Starbucks chai tea concentrate is a blend of black tea and spices; sugar and honey; and other flavors. Since this tea mix comes to Starbucks in pre-mixed boxes, it’s not possible to order a sugar-free dirty chai or any chai drink from the concentrate. However, to get a healthier dirty chai, order a chai tea latte made from chai tea bags without any sugar added.

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