This Vegan Chai Latte is made rich and creamy by blending the homemade tea with cashews and Medjool dates. It’s a great, dairy free alternative to the classic masala chai. All you need is a high powered blender and 9 simple ingredients to enjoy this warm drink.
Authentic chai is made with fresh spices, dairy milk, and sugar.
Because we are making this chai latte vegan, it’s automatically not authentic and is really just inspired by the popular drink!
If you are looking for a more authentic chai, try this recipe: Indian Masala Chai.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Bold flavor – A lot of masala chai recipes fall short in flavor because they use pre made chai mixes with not enough spices. This homemade version uses plenty of fresh spices that are ground just before using. This creates the best flavor!
- WFPB compliant – If you love the flavor of chai lattes but don’t want to consume excess cane sugar or watered down store-bought vegan milks, this latte is for you! It’s sweetened with Medjool dates and made creamy with raw cashews.
- Perfect for the holidays! I love enjoying warm vegan drinks around the holidays, and this drink is extra cozy.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- cashews – Instead of milk, this vegan masala chai is made creamy with whole cashews. It is important to use raw cashews. If you use salted, roasted, or cashews that are flavored, the entire flavor of your latte will be changed. The only ingredient in the cashews you use should be raw, unsalted cashews.
- black tea – I typically use bags of black tea, but you can also substitute 1 tablespoon of loose leaf black tea.
- dates – Medjool dates naturally sweeten this vegan chai latte. If you are out of dates, you can substitute 1-2 tablespoons of maple syrup.
- ginger – Fresh ginger is significantly better to use than powdered because it has a more intense flavor. For the strongest flavor, grate the ginger before simmering it in the water. For a milder flavor, thinly slice it instead.
- spices – There are many blends of chai spices you can buy, but the best flavor is made from a combination of individual spices. All you need is peppercorns, cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, and star anise. You can make my Non-Alcoholic Mulled Wine with any leftover spices, too!
Step by Step Instructions
- Toast the spices. In a small sauce pan, toast the cinnamon sticks, peppercorns, cloves, cardamom pods, and star anise over low heat until fragrant, about 5 minutes.
- Grind the spices. Remove the spices from the heat and transfer them to either a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle and grind until broken down and very fragrant. Remember, the finer you grind the spices, the more flavorful your vegan chai latte will be.
- Simmer the spices. Transfer the spices back into the saucepan along with 1 ½ cups of water. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add in the black tea. After the spices and water simmer for 5 minutes, remove the sauce pan from the heat and add in the black tea bags. Add the lid and allow the black tea to steep in the water for a minimum of 15 minutes.
- Strain the tea into a blender. I like to put a fine mesh sieve directly overtop the Vitamix and pour the tea directly into the blender. If your blender has a smaller opening, you can strain the tea into a Pyrex measuring cup or something similar, and then transfer the vegan chai to the blender.
- Add in the dates and cashews. Pit the dates before adding them to the blender. The blender blade can become damaged if they are accidentally left in the dates.
- Blend until smooth and bubbly. Depending on the type of blender you have, this can take anywhere from 1-3 minutes. You want to err on the side of caution and blend for longer than you may think you need, otherwise your vegan chai latte can have pieces of cashew in it.
- Pour into your mug and add maple syrup, espresso, whipped cream and/or cinnamon if desired. All of these things are completely optional. You can enjoy it as is without additional toppings.
A traditional masala chai latte is made with whole milk, and is therefore not vegan. This version is made dairy free by substituting the whole milk with cashews to make this vegan chai latte just as rich and creamy.
Starbucks makes their chai latte and iced chai latte with Tazo Chai Concentrate. This Chai concentrate is made with honey, and is not considered vegan friendly. It also contains cane sugar. I prefer to make my at home version because it is sweetened with dates, making at a healthier, whole food vegan option.
Masala chai is made with black tea and black tea does contain caffeine. That being said, the caffeine content is significantly lower than a traditional cup of coffee so it may not help keep you awake unless you are sensitive to caffeine. If you are looking for a hot vegan chai that will help keep you awake, make it a dirty chai by adding 1-2 shots of espresso per serving.
If you are looking for a decaf version of this vegan chai latte, use decaf black tea bags. It will have all of the great flavor of the black tea without the excess caffeine.
- Use a high powered blender. In order to make this vegan chai latte as smooth as possible, it is important to use a high powered blender. Medjool dates and cashews can be difficult for blenders to process if it is not strong enough. I always recommend the Vitamix.
- Do not use the Ninja blender with the blades up the stem. In order for a blender to blend something completely smooth, it needs to pull the contents down into a vortex. The Ninja Blender has blades up the stem, and is therefore only able to finely chop. Any recipes made with cashews will not work in this machine.
- Use fresh spices. The fresher the spices, the better the flavor.
More Vegan Drinks to Try
Vegan Chai Latte
- 1 ½ cups water
- 2 bags black tea - substitute 1 tablespoon loose leaf tea
- ¼ cup cashews - raw and unsalted
- 2 Medjool dates - pitted
- 1 inch knob ginger - thinly sliced or grated (grated ginger is stronger and spicier)
- 3 green cardamom pods
- 1 stick cinnamon - broken in half
- ½ teaspoon cloves
- ½ teaspoon peppercorns
- ⅓ piece star anise
- 1-2 shots espresso
- 1-2 tablespoon maple syrup - to taste
- coconut whipped cream
- Toast the cinnamon stick, peppercorns, cloves, cardamom pods, and star anise over low heat until fragrant, about 5 minutes.
- Grind the cardamom pods, peppercorns, star anise, and cloves with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder/coffee grinder to your preferred grind. I like a medium-coarse grind. The finer you grind the spices, the more intense the flavor will be.
- Add the ground spices back to the sauce pan along with the water and sliced ginger and bring to a boil. Simmer without lid for 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat, add the black tea and the lid, and allow to steep covered for 10-15 minutes.
- Strain the spiced tea into the Vitamix, or other high speed blender. Add the raw cashews and pitted dates and blend until completely smooth and frothy.
- Pour into a mug and add the optional maple syrup, espresso, cinnamon and/or coconut whipped cream.
- The fresher your spices, the better your chai will be.
- If your medjool dates are harder or not very fresh, you can soften them in a separate bowl with boiling water for 10 minutes. You can also do this with the cashews if you are not using a high powered blender.
General note about salt
Please pay attention to the type of salt called for in the recipe (if applicable). Not all salts are made equal and cannot be substituted 1 for 1. If you are substituting table salt for kosher salt, you will need to cut the amount called for in the recipe by at least half.
Disclaimer: The Nutritional Information provided for this recipe is only an estimate. The accuracy of the facts listed is not and cannot be guaranteed.
This recipe was originally published on November 20, 2020 and has been updated on April 26, 2022 to include new photos, step by step photos, expert tips and substitutions. The original recipe remains the exact same.