Did You Know, Your Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte Actually Has NO Pumpkin in It?

Yep, it’s true. Whether you’re sipping on a pumpkin spice chai latte, or serving up a slice of pumpkin pie…there’s no real pumpkin involved AT ALL!

pumpkin spice chai latte

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:

  • cinnamon
  • ginger
  • cloves
  • nutmeg
  • milk
  • chai tea
  • and last but not least, pumpkin puree!

(Actual homemade recipe here.)

If you’re wondering where the ingredient “pumpkin spice” is in that recipe…

You should know that “pumpkin spice” isn’t actually a spice made from pumpkins!

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!)

Now you know if you didn’t already: “pumpkin spice” doesn’t actually refer to pumpkins in any 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 can’t believe it’s not 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.

But I just wanted to let you know that when you think you’re having a slice of pumpkin pie, or anything flavored with pumpkin spice, you’re actually eating a slice of butternut squash pie with cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg!

Hopefully I haven’t ruined anything for you…Something tells me I probably haven’t. 😉