I tried a chai latte from 4 popular chains, and I’d happily purchase the most expensive one again

Chai lattes from peets panera starbucks and dunkin
I tried chai lattes from four major chains. Paige Bennett
  • I ordered four hot chai lattes from Dunkin’, Starbucks, Panera, and Peet’s.
  • Dunkin’ had the cheapest drink, but I don’t think it had enough spice to balance the sweetness.
  • Even though it was expensive, I thought Starbucks’ latte had the best sweet-and-spicy flavor.
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The Dunkin’ chai latte was the cheapest of the bunch.
Paige bennett holding a cup of dunkin chai latte
The 24-ounce (680.39g) drink cost $US3.19 ($AU4). Paige Bennett
First, I headed to Dunkin’ for a hot chai latte.

I ordered a medium (24 ounces (680.39g)) for $US3.19 ($AU4), which ended up being the biggest drink and the best value. 

The latte was ultra-creamy, but it lacked spice.
Cup of dunkin chai latte
I wish there were spicier flavors to balance the sweetness. Paige Bennett
Dunkin’ describes its chai latte as blending spices like “cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg” with milk.

I found this description to be pretty spot-on. It was lacking the ultra-spicy, black-peppery punch found in most chai, and it was pretty sweet with 40 grams of sugar.

I didn’t notice any foam when drinking it, but the drink was smooth, thick, and creamy, which I liked. 

Starbucks had one of the most expensive chai lattes per ounce.
Paige bennett holding chai latte from starbucks
The 12-ounce (340.19g) drink was $US4.25 ($AU6). Paige Bennett
Starbucks’ tall (12 ounces (340.19g)) hot chai latte cost $US4.25 ($AU6).

According to the chain, the drink is “infused with cinnamon, clove, and other warming spices” and “combined with steamed milk and topped with foam for the perfect balance of sweet and spicy”

It really was the perfect blend of sweet and spicy flavors.
Cup of starbucks chai latte
I thought the flavors blended very nicely. Paige Bennett
I was impressed with Starbucks’ chai latte.

Since the 12-ounce (340.19g) drink had 32 grams of sugar, I expected it to be way too sweet for me. But the warming spices really balanced everything. 

The drink itself was really creamy with a nice frothy topping.

I wasn’t sure about Panera’s chai latte at first.
Paige bennett holding panera chai latte
The 16-ounce (453.59g) drink was $US5.29 ($AU7). Paige Bennett
Panera says its chai latte combines “black tea, honey, vanilla, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, and foamed milk.”

I ordered a small (16 ounces (453.59g)) for $US5.29 ($AU7), which seemed super expensive until I broke it down by ounce. 

It was pretty spicy, which helped balance all the sugar.
Cup of panera chai latte
The spicy flavor really came through. Paige Bennett
Panera’s chai was spicy, but it wasn’t the spiciest of the day.

I liked that it didn’t taste too sweet, despite containing a whopping 48 grams of sugar.

It had some foam on the top right when I ordered it, but it dissolved quickly into a creamy blend.

Peet’s chai latte was just as pricey per ounce as Starbucks’.
Paige bennett holding cup of peet's chai latte
The 12-ounce (340.19g) drink cost $US4.25 ($AU6). Paige Bennett
Peet’s chai latte is described as “teas and spices, lightly sweetened, with steamed milk.”

I ordered a small (12 ounces (340.19g)), which cost me $US4.25 ($AU6).

The latte was extra spicy with a strong, earthy flavor.
Cup of peets chai latte
Peet’s was the spiciest latte. Paige Bennett
Peet’s was the least sweet of the bunch, despite having more sugar than the Starbucks version at 33 grams. It was also, therefore, the spiciest of the four lattes

It had a surprisingly earthy taste that almost reminded me of the flavor of butternut squash.

The consistency was a bit thinner than the others, with a lightly foamy top.

In terms of taste, the Starbucks chai latte was my top choice.
Paige bennett drinking a starbucks chai latte
I liked Starbucks’ chai latte the best. Paige Bennett
I enjoyed all four chai lattes, but the one from Starbucks was my favorite. I thought it balanced spicy and sweet really well, and the consistency of the creamy drink and the foamy topping was ideal.

But at $US0.35 ($AU0) an ounce, it was tied with Peet’s for the most expensive drink of the day.

Panera’s chai latte was my second favorite. It was creamy and smooth, and it had a nice flavor. It was a little spicier than I would’ve liked, which is why it came in just behind Starbucks’ chai.

Although it was the most out-right expensive option, it was larger than Starbucks’, so it ended up being $US0.33 ($AU0) an ounce.

Dunkin’s chai latte offered the highest value by far at $US0.13 ($AU0) an ounce. It was really creamy, but it was lacking enough spice to really taste like chai.

Peet’s latte was the spiciest of the four. I liked this drink, but the unexpected earthy flavor wasn’t my favorite, and it was tied for most expensive at $US0.35 ($AU0) an ounce.