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January 09, 2007


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there is water in the chai lattes because it is a concentrate and adding water thins it out a bit. some people dont like the water, so they ask for it without. if you dont like the water i suggest doing that :)

not at all -starbucks chai is a chai concentrate and always has been. we add water to heat the tea and staert activating all the good flavors and smells.
customers see us put water and assume we are diluting it and ask for no water - but actually comprimise the flavors by not giving it a chance to "steep"
our iced black tea used to be made regular - now we make it double strength and add water to it to make it just like it was prior.
ever since we started doing it people see us add water and ask for no water because they think we are cheating them by adding water or something!
its a perception.
do not ask for no water in your chai! or try it both ways with water or not - but regardless if you ask for water or no water the amount of chai in the recipe is the same,


IIRC, the beverage manual says that the chai flavor isn't as strong with just milk. it tastes much stronger and spicier with water in it.

i never drink chai, so i can't really say.


The recipe standard has always called for water because the chai tea is a concentrate.

At no point did we "swtich" over and start serving a different product under the same name.

A lawsuit would be thrown out of court.

Florida Barista

The description on the starbucks website is so decieving. We do not add honey to the chai. There is probably the tiniest amount in the chai concentrate. Supposedly I have heard that adding water "activates" the chai tea flavor. Personally I think it is to save money. Watery chai is gross.

Coffee Chick

Chai is a concentrate, which is why we add water to the drink. It's how it's supposed to be done, it's what the official Starbucks drink manual says. Not to water it down, but to make sure the you can really taste the spices, which you can't if you order it without water. I know a lot of people order it without water because they think they get better value for their money when in fact, they get a drink that doesn't taste as good as the "diluted" one.


Our beverage manuals instruct us to pump the concentrate, then add water to half the cup, then add steamed milk. The water activates the flavors of the chai, because it's a concentrate, like previous posters have said. I order mine with no water because I like mine really creamy and foamy, not because I believe the water to be a rip off. But the flavor is "better" with the water.

Barista Brooke

the Tazo chai tea concentrate we use on bar must have water in order not only for the chai to be the proper strength, but also for the beverage to be the proper temperature. some people prefer it without water and that's up to them.

the boxed tazo chai that we sell in stores is not the same as the concentrated chai tea we use on bar and some baristas and customers think that. it's just a misconception.


We have a semi-regular who orders a no water Chai. I made her drink today & she brought it back, saying it just tasted like milk & asked me to add more Chai. I did that for her but I also (tried) to explain to her that adding hot water to the Chai concentrate, as per the recipe guide, allows the flavors to "bloom" & would make the drink taste better. Hmm, she doesn't belive me! We're not mixing the drink 50/50 with water, just enough to warm the room temp or refrigerated concentrate to the temp of the milk. There's water in the GTL's, too, ya know!


wahahahahahhaha indy coffeehouse owner here!
that is such BS! water doesn't activate anything! you taste the chai better when, well, there is more chai!

if you use the non-concentrated chai, you add half chai half milk. if you use concentrate (wich is nasty) you are using less chai by volume so milk should be enough to dilute it.

People steep their tea bags in milk all the time - at starbucks or not. So don't pretend that water releases the flavor of the chai. watering down chai with thousands of stores - that adds up!

some of the former ex-starbucks drinkers come into my shop, order their chais 'no-water' and then are relieved that we don't put water in it.

Some stores have gotten in the habit of not adding water. I got hired at one and the new manager was in the process of breaking everyone of the habit. Though I still don't know why no one here will whip the iced mochas unless it's asked for...


it's been said up above in the thread, but the Chai Tea Lattes BY RECIPE are supposed to be made with water because the syrup is a suspension of tea and sugar and the water is needed to release and fully activate the taste of the tea


I came to Starbucks by way of Seattle's Best, where we did not add water to the chai because we used Oregon Chai rather than Tazo. We actually measured the chai and the milk and steamed them together, which really brought out the flavors. I still make them that way if it isn't too busy. I think chai with water added is nasty. I know what the beverage manual says, and I know the correct recipe, and I STILL think it's nasty. I make 'em without water, and if anyone comments on it, I blame it on my not being able to break the old SBC habit. I will, of course, add water if someone tells me they like it better that way. I've only had that happen once in three years, though.

It's not being watered down since it's a concentrate. CHITOWNCOFFE, so do you use the non-concentrate kind at your store? I worked at a place once that used a powdered mix. It was good but some of the powder tended to settle at the bottom, and definitely did not taste like a chai latte as a lot of people know it.


I think the chai tastes better with water. I have to ask for extra water now because people don't make it to the standard.
Honestly, think about 'making' caramel sauce by putting the bag in hot water. It does change the composition and flavour. The insta-hot tap water is hotter than the required temp for milk and as a candy maker, I know it makes a big difference.
Also, it's not that much of a money saving thing. Starbucks goes through such a volume of milk that it makes little difference that there are a few ounces of water in the tazo chai.


Okay think about it logically people. Chai is spicy. When you eat something spicy do they say to drink water to cool your mouth off? No. Why? Because water just intensifies the spiciness. They tell you to drink milk b/c it tones it down. So logically, adding water to a milk chai would bring out the spice more than just milk and chai.

Starbucks is not trying to cheat you. If they were, we wouldn't give you extra whip or extra carmel or the 15 extra pumps you put in your vanilla latte.


1. Starbucks has NOT always used a concentrate that required you add water. I really wish people who don't know what they are talking about would stop talking. They switched the chai syrup they used back in the early part of the 2000's.

2. The new chai is indeed a concentrate that is essentially a syrup of tea, honey and other sugars. Adding water to it makes it about the same percentage of water and tea/honey as the old mixture. You are getting the same amount of chai when they add water as you do using a non concentrated chai like Oregon Chai, the water is just being added in front of you instead of at a factory.

3. Whether or not the taste is improved one way or another is purely going to be personal preference. I have been a dedicated chai latte drinker for six years, mostly at Starbucks. I personally don't get water because I prefer the taste of the old recipe and have convinced myself it tastes more like the recipe to add a little more chai concentrate and no water. It doesn't mean I'm right but it doesn't mean the "its flavor comes out with water added" crowd is right either.

Barista Boy


Are you saying that you mix the chai and the milk in the same container and then steam it? Is that OK? I thought we could only put milk in the pitchers to steam...


Settle down.

The water is hotter than the milk.
Much hotter.

You need the water to get the better tea.

If you need more fat, than add more milk. But have some put in.


It would surprise me that Starbucks would try to save money by screwing around with watering the chai. I often ask for more water, less milk. Cuz is tastes better. And what a suggestion of lawsuit. Really
Dave S. Are you realated to the woman who sued cuz her coffee was hot? And CHITOWNCOFFE, guess you think you know more than a few dozen baristas ? Seems iffy to me.


Coffee Girl -

You are the reason that I get people coming in to my store and complaining that "well bla bla bla down the street makes it this way without asking" and me having to explain "I'm sorry, the recipe calls for water, but I'll be happy to make it without water for you"

If I thought that all mochas were much better tasting with a pump of vanilla should I make it that way?

The whole reason for drink standards is to have.....well, standard drinks. If you think the recipe is better a certain way, write a mission review and try and get it changed, but don't take it upon yourself to decide what the recipe should be


WOW...Has logic totally gone out the window. Blah blah blah....My head hurts from reading 1/2 of these posts. IT IS A CONCENTRATE...for those who complain on here about the water in the chai...go eat a bullion cube and call it soup...then wash it down with a dry tea bag of earl grey.

Im just mad cause I wasted 5 minutes of my life reading this thread...LMFAO


It does taste spicier with water. Chai used to be made by mixing milk and chai in a pitcher and then blending it. It tasted better that way, honestly.

Here's a question for you: How come we don't add water to iced chai? (I've heard they do this at licensed stores. Customers come in complaining about it all the time.) And don't tell me it's because the ice melts it. Most people have those iced drinks gone quickly, especially the smaller ones.


without the water in the chai it becomes essentially syrup and milk. and the chai flavor is less intense, which is why some people add more pumps. i personally like it with water but won't waste my breath explaining to an idiot customer the reason behind the water. they wont care anyways.


I don't know how it is for you cowmilk drinkers, but covivant and I order our chais with soymilk, and the drinks are really thin if we do not order them "no water."


long time ago starbucks actually had real chai. and it still called for water. only super busy stores had concentrate.

i did a test. went to 2 starbuckses. had chai 2 ways. tastes stronger with just milk. stirring it a bit helped.

mmmm suspension of tea and sugar... doesn't that just makes your mouth water?


TEA HAS WATER IN IT...Maybe we should just have starbucks send us tea already made instead of concentrate. Then we can raise the price of the drink to cover the packaging increases. And sacrifice even more space in our small stores. And we can even have 1/2 equal packets made too....this thread SUCKS.


I'm surprised that no one has commented on the fact that a concentrate uses much less packaging than a non-concentrated version. It's more environmentally friendly to ship a concentrate.


First of all, I am asoy only drinker. And when I go into my local store and order a chai sometimes I order no water and other times I do it regular. It all depends on what I am the mood for. The drink tastes differently with out the milk. One of my favorite barristas will add just a tiny bit of the water instead of the full amount with soy. It tastes richer that way. If you really want to have your chai enriched, have a shot or two of cinnamon added to it. It spices it up nicely.


Basically, because the chai tea is a syrup concentrate... if you order a chai tea latte with no water you're basically ordering a chai flavored steamed milk.

Chai tea latte gets HOT WATER just as any tea misto (chai tea misto) would get hot water... it activates the spiciness of the chai syrup.

A Chai tea latte is better with no water, in alot of people opinions, because it is sweeter and less intense... but the water is what makes it chai TEA latte instead of chai steamed milk


for chitown and all -

once upon a time when the chai was first introduced at starbucks, it was a 50/50 blend of chai and milk.
unfortunatly the drink became so popular that it was an incredible tax on the environment - we were throwing away a tetrapack every 8 drinks... so we created a concentrated version, which to use in the stores.

it's not BS that water is needed to ensure the flavour is accurate - because the water is taken out (which is what concentrate means) during production.

while you may prefer your canned OJ straight - most people enjoy the it more when it's diluted with water to the original specifications...

however there isn't any extra charge or scorn behind people wanting no water - just like people wanting decaf or skim, it's just another customization we do.

and to those who think we do it to save money - have any of you been using your brains of late?

we charge you $4 for 12oz of milk. even in a no-water chai there's only 4-10oz more milk... think that costs us $4?


(sorry - that post was supposed to go up yesterday...but got snagged on the verification screen... a little late, and already said - apologies)


Soy chai anyone? You cannot put water in soy milk with the chai because it does not taste right. We order without water because the water does not blend well with the soy milk.


Well put, barockstar :)

It's totally true. Concentrates are environmentally friendlier, still have the same flavour provided the water is reintroduced during its handcrafting stage and taste the same. It also allows people to choose whether they want the chai with water or without. And choice is what we're all about ;)

chitowncoffee - No wonder you don't work at Starbucks anymore... you have no idea what you're talking about AND you're being a snotty little know-it-all... incredible...


This makes no sense what so ever. Chai is a concentrate, so you can dilute it with water or milk. Adding water will make the drink watery instead of more milky. I can't wait until Starbucks starts adding water to their Mochas and claiming that it's a syrup and needs hot water to be "activiated".


imo, no-water maks the chai richer (creamier) but more muted. When I was in hs and addicted to the things, I would get my grande chais with two pumps of cinnamon and no water. Now that I'm no longer so hooked on sugar, I get them half sweet, no-water, foamy like a cappuccino. Because of all the foam, you don't need as much chai to get the flavour across, and now that I no longer have the metabolism of a 16 yo, it helps cet the sugar.

Barista sUz

The water is supposedly to bring out the flavours and aroma of the chai. I taste no difference with or w/o water, I also personally find it only drinkable with soy. Even though you're s'pposed to put water in every chai [to the "siren's eye"] I don't put water in soy. Just cos I think if the customer pays extra for soy, they might as well get it all. But that's just me. I do things to standard, but I like soy. I would want to get as much soy outta my monies spent as much as possible :)

But anyway, Starbucks has their silly standards, but whatever. If you don't like it with water, simply ASK FOR IT WITHOUT. Obviously other people don't seem to get the difference nor care this much. So I don't really see why this is such a big deal.


The joke's on you Notbuying it!!! We do add water to Mochas!!!

Our Mocha syrup comes to us as a powdered concentrate to which we add water to activate/reconstitute it.

Chai just happens to be a liquid concentrate.

Oh and in iced chai's we add water too... it just happens to be in solid form (that would be ice, just in case you didn't figure it out).

I'm going to start calling no-tazo chais as no whip tazo chai syrup cremes from now on!


no-tazo = no-water tazo

my bad...

patrick barnett

It would be interesting to determine what CHAI product BNbarista utilizes at the independent coffee house. As both a former 'indy coffee shop' owner AND SM for SBUX, I highly doubt that any attempt has been made in tasting that product against SBUX's concentrated CHAI beverage. Chai means tea in Hindi and is derived from the word cha which means tea in many eastern languages. Masala chai is a spiced black tea “latte” which is believed to have originated in India. Traditional masala chai is a blend of spices and black teas simmered in water, milk and sugar. Having an understanding of where CHAI comes from and its preferred taste would allow one to determine that SBUX indeed has an excellent product. Note that a true CHAI beverage is steeped in water. Whether you're dealing with a concentrate or getting it 'fresh' from a concentrate box pack is quite irrelevant. I often ask for beverages without water simply because of preference. It really comes down to getting what you want, how you want it and having an experience that is legendary. To all the barista reading this post, connect with your customers who order no water Chais by asking if they have ever tasted one with water. Make them a tall or short Chai made to the specification. Its also an excellent opportunity to provide them with a pastry pairing. Talk about your knowledge of tea and discover what they know about tea.

Barista Boy


I wish I worked for you. You actually care. It's nice...

Thanks for the great lesson (and the upselling with the pastry is pretty genius).


this reminds me, i worked with this kid one time whose last name was Chai...and his first name began with a T. so on the deposit over/short screen it would read "TChai".

cracked me up every time.


Kudo's to Patric: a highly informative chat as to what we should do about the situation.

I myself put a dash of water into the chi whenever I make it, but never the 'to spec' ammount.

it tea douchy...the hot water "brews" it to bring out the spicy flavors....jesus effing christ...litigation? seriously? get an effing job..



You drink milk after eating spicy food to dissolve the compound that causes the burning. Capsaicin is the compound, but it is not water-soluble: drinking water will not remove the heat, but it will not intensify it. Casein is an enzyme in milk products that washes away the capsaicin.


Holy crap, STFU. Beverage manual states we add water to the concentrate. MANUAL WINS. You lose.


Ok, here's the explanation on the add water/no water fiasco.

Chai is made in many ways. Considering that the starbucks chai is a product of India, and being an Indian myself, I guess I am somewhat qualified to answer this.

As early as in my childhood days, we made and still make chai by first by pouring water in a pot, mix the tea powder (chai) and the spices (a blend of cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, star anise, peppercorn, and cloves)...then we bring the water to a boil...as the water is boiling, we add evaporated milk in the hot boiling water (just 2 or 3 tablespoons)....then we let it keep boiling until the top portion of the chai has a slightly thick film, which basically means that it is done. We then strain the chai in a cup and enjoy. THIS is the most common REAL way to make chai. Takes about 20 minutes really.

Switch to Starbucks:

Having stated the above, Starbucks baristas can't spend 20 minutes and niether can customers wait that long for their chai. For this reason, chai is used from concentrate that is basically water mixed with all the spices that are mentioned in the recipe above. Since there ALREADY is water in the concentrate, there is NO additional need for any more water in the cups...Milk will do. Adding more water will completely ruin any taste of the chai whatsoever.

The way I order my chai from Starbucks (I am a Starbucks freak):

Grande 6-pump Tazo Chai Latte, 200 degrees.

Hope that helped.

Hit me back at SachinBhatia.com (Crumpled Nothings!)

I love the baristas saying the concentrate needs to steep and "manual wins - you lose". I'm an ex-partner and first off: the concentrate can not steep, that tea was all ready brewed months ago and shipped to stores as a concentrate that needs to be watered down due to it's strong flavor. Sometimes too strong for many customers. Addressing the manual, you've been brainwashed dude -- you're referring to the beverage resource manual like a bible. It's a coffee shop! Not a holy ground. While Howard Schultz and all the 100,000 other partners may think so.

beverage manual

both start with 'b'.
coincidence? i think not.

What part of "concentrate" are some of you not getting?

And considering that customization is a huge part of the Starbucks culture, it's not like the baristas are forcing people to get their chai with water.

Can we shut the hell up already?

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