Skip To Content

    PSA: Chai Tea Latte Doesn't Mean What You Think It Means

    Just "chai" is fine.

    We need to have a conversation about the term "chai tea."

    New Line Cinema / Via

    When you think of chai, you probably think exclusively of that mildly spiced, milky tea (often made from concentrate) popularized by Starbucks and Oregon Chai.

    Well, hate to break it to you, but...

    Antonioguillem / Getty Images

    In languages all over the world, "chai" is the literal translation for the English word "tea."

    In China, where tea originated, it's cha. Elsewhere, you have the "Russian chai, Persian cha, Greek tsai, Arabic shay, and Turkish çay."

    In South Asia, where corporations likely got the word, "chai" can be used to describe tea that's been made black or with milk, with spice or without... IT'S ALL CHAI, BROTHER. "Masala chai," or "spiced tea" is probably the closest thing to a chai tea latte, but even that's stretching it.

    You know what that means right? Since latte means milk in Italian, a "chai tea latte" translates to...

    Viktor_gladkov / Getty Images


    Chai latte is acceptable, because that just means "tea milk," which has equivalents in other languages, and the meaning of words can change over time.

    Flickr: Beedie Savage / Creative Commons / Via Flickr: queceus

    But chai tea latte? Hell no. Imagine if this naming convention was applied to other foods.

    Carvalho_brasil / Getty Images


    Taco Bell presents!

    Raul Taborda / Getty Images

    KFC presents!

    Harikarn / Getty Images

    Au Bon Pain presents!

    Bhofack2 / Getty Images

    Starbucks presents!

    Fifilio / Getty Images

    Nathan's Famous presents!

    Msphotographic / Getty Images

    Painful, right?

    BuzzFeed Daily

    Keep up with the latest daily buzz with the BuzzFeed Daily newsletter!

    Newsletter signup form