Before I get into what may very well be a blasphemous shock to you if you weren’t already aware, let me introduce you to the concept of how it actually takes all kinds of spices to make “pumpkin spice.”
For example, if you’re interested in knowing the difference between a pumpkin spice latte and a pumpkin spice chai latte…it’s just the spices!
A latte is just an espresso with steamed milk. And foamy at the top. But when we add the word “chai” into the mix, it’s actually short for masala chai, which means “spiced tea” in Hindi.
(So chai means tea. Chai tea means “tea tea”!)
Masala chai is black tea with spices and milk. So what makes a chai latte different from a regular latte is that the chai latte includes a spice blend similar to that of masala chai — anything from cardamom, honey, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, rose, vanilla…all sorts of stuff!
But to finally answer your question of what a pumpkin spice chai latte would be, let’s look at 1 sample recipe:
(Actual homemade recipe here.)
If you’re wondering where the ingredient “pumpkin spice” is in that recipe…
In actuality, pumpkin spice is a mix of usually 4 spices: cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg.
I know a lot of you already know all this stuff if you’ve made pumpkin pie before, but it’s surprising how many people think pumpkin spice is its own, single-ingredient thing.
So, if you want to bake any dessert that’s pumpkin-flavored in the way that is typically considered pumpkin-flavored, then you’re actually combining pumpkin puree with cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg.
It’s kind of funny because if you’ve ever just tried pumpkin puree by itself, you probably think it tastes a little bit bitter…not sweet the way “pumpkin” is supposed to taste, right?(But you’re more than welcome to eat it right out of the can if you like it that way!)
And you know what else isn’t what you think it is? The pumpkin puree! It isn’t actually pureed pumpkin. (I know, I know, you’re freaking out a little bit at this point!)
And no, I’m not saying it’s some kind of artificial chemical product instead. I’m just saying, when you buy pumpkin puree off the shelf, it’s actually squash!
Probably butternut squash, but some brands use others. The brand Libby’s started breeding its own special squash, and called it a “Dickinson pumpkin”! So now they can technically put on the can that it’s 100% pumpkin, because they are calling their squash a “pumpkin”!
I know that none of this is a big deal to most of us, because, um, we love pumpkin pie and pumpkin spice lattes, even if there are no actual pumpkins involved in the making.