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

We tried 9 cups so you can drink the best.

10/09/2015 07:01 am ET

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
    Bigelow
  • 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
    Stash
  • 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
    Twinings
  • 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
    Yogi
  • 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
    Twinings
  • 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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