Food Showdown: Which Chai Should You Try?


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  33 comments   :  37,846 Views

Blended, iced, shaken, and stirred—those coffee drinks from almost any chain have a bad reputation of being rich in calories and fat. But what about teas? Like coffee, brewed tea has zero calories, but those calories can add up quickly when other elements like milk, sugar, and whipped cream are added. The Starbucks Chai Frappuccino blends tea with whole milk and ice. Panera Bread's (St. Louis Bread Co. in some regions) Iced Chai Tea Latte includes spicy tea and steamed milk, served over ice. Which iced tea blend is lower in calories?

The Winner: Panera's Iced Chai Tea Latte!
Panera's Iced Chai Tea Latte contains a whole lotta flavor for only 160 calories and 3.5 grams of fat per 16-ounce serving. Now that's sweet! Starbucks' high-calorie reputation remains—and with good reason. This 16-ounce drink boasts 240 calories and 4.5 grams of fat. Save yourself the unnecessary calories and fat next time you're at Starbucks. Swap out 2% milk for skim and order the smallest size (12 oz) to make this drink a 160-calorie, fat-free winner.

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  • 33
    As easy AND cheap as it is to make...why not just make your own Chai spice mix? - 1/2/2018   12:14:34 PM
  • 32
    Tazo brand has an organic chai tea version available at most stores. I make mine with vanilla almond milk - just mix, microwave, and enjoy. Super easy, plus it's cheaper and healthier than anything you can pick up at a drive through! - 12/9/2014   5:56:18 PM
    oh...... and Starbucks hasn't used whole milk as their standard in years. They use 2% milk unless otherwise specified. - 12/9/2014   4:13:48 AM
    Just a suggestion, but you might want to remove the word Frappuccino from your article. The stats you state in your article match the Iced Chai and not the Chai Frappuccino. The Frappuccino is a way different animal and would be unfair to compare to a plain iced Chai from a competitor. And it was really confusing... - 12/9/2014   4:12:53 AM
  • 29
    it is good - 8/25/2012   10:14:12 PM
    I enjoy my vanilla chai tea! I use fresh brewed from a local tea vendor. It soaks in hot water for a few minutes then I add soy milk and my very own homemade whip cream. What a dream! I do not purchase it out because mine is so perfect. Smiles - 8/21/2012   12:03:02 PM
    We do not have this in our region. Too bad! :/
    I guess in my case, the only alternative is to make my own spice blend!
    Spark should have a great example of this somewhere! ;) - 8/21/2012   8:07:13 AM
    I like green tea and I won't change that. Cost less and is healthy. - 8/20/2012   8:20:00 PM
  • 25
    Nice that I am not allowed to leave a comment disagreeing--even though no profanity or HTML was used...what's up with that, SparkPeople? No dissention allowed? Censorship is not fair to your users. - 8/20/2012   3:18:09 PM
  • CHICO1235
    thanks for sharing , but I would rather use the calories on something more exciting, but I think the home made one is the best, and a lot less calories too - 8/20/2012   3:15:47 PM
  • 23
    Make your own masala chai tea powder by blending vanilla whey powder with cinnamon, cardamon, crystal ginger, pepper - I put tumeric in mine and leave out the clove. - Put this in a jar. Then when you brew your black tea you can stir in a tablespoon of this and it has a nice morning protein up! For those on the got you could order a standard black tea and keep a baggy of this with you as an add in. - 8/20/2012   2:37:09 AM
  • 22
    Hmmm... looks like another comparison between apples and oranges to me. - 8/19/2012   8:21:45 PM
  • 21
    You are comparing a frappuccino to an iced chai. Why not compare an iced chai to an iced chai? You can request low or non-fat milk with the iced chai as well. - 8/19/2012   5:46:32 PM
  • 20
    Thanks for sharing - 8/19/2012   3:27:10 PM
    I don't drink coffee at all and I LOVE Chai tea, hot or iced latte. Panera definitely has the better tasting version of both for my taste buds. But I have discovered that Oregon Chai has a ready mixed quart that is under $4. I can make multiple 10-12 oz servings from 1 box since I fill a glass 1/2 w/chai & half w/skim milk. I buy the sugar free version that is made w/Splenda,so...0 calories,0 sugar except what is in the skim milk...Yum!! Target always has it in the tea aisle. - 8/19/2012   2:12:05 PM
    I don't have a coffee shop habit, but I do have a hot sweet coffee habit. Good reminder that I can make something similar with tea. I'll have to give this a try with some of the spicy teas I have in the cupboard. - 8/19/2012   1:15:29 PM
    DEFINITELY trying the Panera option! I'm a Starbuck's regular when I partake, as a rule. - 8/19/2012   11:08:26 AM
  • 16
    Personally not a tea fan so no temptation for me. - 8/19/2012   10:09:15 AM
  • 15
    I'm sure these drinks are lovely, but the price tag they put on a single beverage, just doesn't work for this frugal girl. While not a traditional recipe (which is tea simmered in milk and spices), I've found simply brewing a cup of Stash's Chai Green tea and adding a splash of f.f. half and half and the tiniest sprinkle of stevia, a very satisfying treat. Of course, I haven't had my taste buds spoiled to the real thing tho. - 8/19/2012   10:08:44 AM
    Obviously the Chai Tea Frappuccino has more calories - Starbucks uses a syrup for the chai flavoring, to start! Also, I don't know why you didn't count their regular chai tea latte or just their regular chai tea! Why'd you have to count the frappuccino? Not everything from Starbucks is crazy high calorie. They don't even use whole milk as their default milk anymore, they use 2%. - 8/19/2012   9:47:27 AM
    WOW!!!! thats a lot of money for a lot of calories :O - 8/19/2012   8:51:29 AM
  • 12
    Wow... I am glad I prefer my tea plain and cut out coffee. - 8/19/2012   7:59:52 AM
  • 11
    I like the misto idea! - 8/19/2012   7:51:02 AM
  • 10
    I'm frugal, so I'd never spend $3.69 for a Panera's Iced Chai Tea Latte. LOL - 8/19/2012   6:31:35 AM
    I make up my own Chai tea,using 1/2 Filtered water and 1/2 Unsweetened Breeze Almond milk and the different spices with a few drops of Stevia Vanilla,
    Bring it all to the boil.Then add Organic Green tea bags, allow it all to steep and then strain and drink either hot or chilled.There are plenty of recipes on the net. - 8/19/2012   5:28:53 AM
  • 8
    I have never had Chai! PINKHAIREDMOM's suggestion sounds yummy to me as just a mild sweetness is perfect for me. I am fond of the unsweetened almond coconut blend milk. I wonder if another flavor of tea that also has some innate sweetness would work well with that as well. - 8/19/2012   5:05:02 AM
    Punkhairedmom I am seriously going to try that! I love my chai, in all it's forms, but this seems like the perfect idea to keep my calories in range. Thanks! - 8/18/2012   11:24:58 PM
  • 6
    No thanks I used to work at a local telco and had a call once at a Sikh temple and was offered some (it was filthy where I was) so no any time I hear of it it brings me back to that place. - 8/18/2012   10:20:18 PM
  • 5
    I used to work at Starbucks and I used to order a lighter Chai option. Just ask for a "Chai tea Misto" . This is made by brewing a Tazo Chai teabag in half a cup of hot water, then adding steamed milk on top. It tastes great with non-fat or for a little sweetness try the steamed soy (it already has a little vanilla flavoring and sugar in it). - 8/18/2012   9:54:44 PM
  • 4
    I have wondered what an iced chai tea latte would taste like. I always order the small, nonfat and next time I think I'll try it iced. Thanks for the article and the idea! - 8/18/2012   5:36:02 PM
  • 3
    Cold chai tea? Thats a new one! - 8/18/2012   12:25:27 PM
  • 2
    I don't like my chai so sweet. My favorite blend is made at home. I use Celestial Seasonings Bengal spice, which is caffeine free and mildly sweet on it's own. I use alot of bags in a small amount of water to make a concentrate that I store in the fridge. Then I add some concentrate to unsweetened vanilla almond milk and ice and blend it really well. An awesome frozen chai latte for about 50 calories. - 8/18/2012   11:18:43 AM
  • 1
    Of course, lower calorie still would be to make your own chai at home. To brew it the traditional way, you take a chai spiced black tea blend (the word "chai" means tea, but in India they blend black tea leaves with spices) and brew it in hot (NOT boiling) milk over the stove and then pour through a strainer to remove the tea leaves and spices. If you want lower calories, use skim milk. I often make it using water, though it's better with milk.

    Coffee shops add a lot of unnecessary sugar to their chai flavor--which really adds up in calories. - 8/18/2012   11:18:04 AM

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