10/09/2015 07:01 am ET

The Best Chai You Can Buy, According To Our Taste Test

We tried 9 cups so you can drink the best.

Chai comes in so many flavors -- technically, chai just means "tea," so it tends to include a combination of any of the following ingredients: cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, fennel, cloves and peppercorns. Most Americans have become accustomed to drinking the coffee-chain breed of chai lattes, which actually taste heavier of sugar and cream than of authentic Indian chai spices -- but we're here to talk about straight-up chai tea bags. And there's a chai out there for every tea drinker, so we set out to find it. 

We rounded up nine of the most available brands on the market -- with varying price points -- and got to brewing. We brewed the teas according to manufacturers' instructions and tasted with a teaspoon of sugar and a drop or two of milk. 

Julie R. Thomson

There were a lot of good ones out there, but also some terrible choices. Here's what we found -- in order from worst to best. (For the record, this taste test is in no way sponsored or influenced by the brands included.)

  • #9. Bigelow Vanilla Chai
    This is an atrocity. It tastes like a cup of artificial flavoring.
  • #8. Equal Exchange Chai
    Equal Exchange
    Where's the spice? Way, way, way mild. 
  • #7. Stash Chai Spice
    Middle of the road chai. Forgettable but totally passable in a pinch.
  • #6. Celestial Teahouse Mountain Chai
    Celestial Teahouse
    They must not like bold chai in the mountains.
  • #5. Teapigs Chai
    Tea Pigs
    We forgive Teapigs for calling it "chai tea" (hello, redundant), because their blend is so delightfully fragrant.
  • #4. Twinings Chai Ultra Spice
    Ultra spice ain't a lie. This tea is bold, in the boldest of ways, with a strong taste of cinnamon. Awesome choice if that's what you look for in a chai.
  • #3. Yogi Chai Rooibos
    True to its description, this tea is naturally sweeter than most (which means you can add less sugar). Mildly spicy, but pleasantly so. You can pick out the cardamom flavor.
  • #2. Tazo Chai
    Nice balanced flavor. Not too strongly spiced -- perfect for those who like milder chais. 
  • #1. Organic India Chai Masala
    Organic India
    Perfection. Complex, bold, evenly balanced with an underlying sweetness that just makes you feel like you're drinking comfort straight from a mug. Yes and yes.
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