This authentic Masala Chai recipe features fragrant Indian spices, black tea, and your choice of milk (plant-based or dairy). A cozy comforting mug of goodness. Serve this with Spicy Chai Molasses Cookies!

How to make delicious authentic Masala Chai, like they do in India, using using whole spices. Vegan and Sugar Free adaptable. #chai #chaitea #masalachai #howtomakechai #masalaMany thoughts appear in the mind, but it is the heart that holds one and not another. ~Dorothy Hunt

Call me a late bloomer, but it wasn’t until I went to India and experienced Chai firsthand that I fell in love with it. Now, there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t either make myself a cup, or pine for it.

Yes, I’ve had it numerous times here in the states, but somehow, either it was overly sweetened, too bland, or perhaps I had just never truly “connected” with it. It was almost like I met Chai for the first time at age 50 when I went to India. I can’t believe I lived so many years without it!

Masala Chai filled a void I never knew I had until those very first sips. ☕️

Here is a video of my favorite Chai Wallah at work- in a small village in Rajasthan, India. (Shot on my iPhone)

Authentic Masala Chai in India | 30-sec video

What is Masala Chai?

In India, masala means spice, and chai means tea. Spiced Tea. And that is exactly what Masala Chai is -black tea infused with fragrant spices, typically served with hot milk.

Here in the states, we often call this “chai tea”, or a chai tea latte. But in India,  saying “chai tea”, is like saying “tea tea”. So that’s why in India, one says Masala Chai – or spiced tea. Good to know, right? 😉

How to make authentic Masala Chai, like they do in India, using using whole spices. Vegan and Sugar Free adaptable. #chai #chaitea #masalachai #howtomakechai #masala

Ingredients in Masala Chai

There are typically four components in Masala Chai and the secret is finding the perfect balance between them.

  1. Black Tea Leaves- or try decaf black tea. Assam and Darjeeling are often used in India because they are grown there.
  2. Whole Spices – cardamom, cinnamon, clove, black pepper, star anise and ginger root
  3. Milk (or nut milk)- plant-based milk or dairy milk both work great here!  In India, whole milk is typically used in Masala Chai. For a plant-based chai, try almond milk or oat milk – both work great.
  4. Sweetener- use sugar, honey, maple, stevia, agave, your choice!

Best Tea for Masala Chai

  • The base of the Masala Chai is typically black tea. Most strong, rich, dark black teas will work well in Masala Chai- something robust enough to hold up to all the flavorful spices. The tea need not be expensive.
  • (I prefer to use a high-quality organic, loose black tea that I get in the bulk section of my grocery store.  I use about a heaping tablespoon per serving.) Assam, Darjeeling or Ceylon.
  •  You can also use  1-2 black tea bags. Typical brands used are Lipton Yellow Label, and Taj Mahal, and PG Tips.  Some households will custom blend their own teas to create their own signature flavor. This can be a very personal thing.
  • Feel free to use decaf black tea.
How to make authentic Masala Chai, like they do in India, using using whole spices. Vegan and Sugar Free adaptable. #chai #chaitea #masalachai #howtomakechai #masala

 

What makes Masala Chai authentic is the use of spices. One thing is for certain, every single person in India probably has their own unique combination of spices they prefer in their masala chai and there is no one “right” way. It is very subjective.

Spices In Masala Chai

Chai Wallahs- the street vendors who make masala chai, all have their own unique blend of chai spices as well- and as you can probably guess, I was obsessed with watching them make their creations.

These are the chai spices I saw used the most in India:  

I especially love the green cardamom pods I picked up in India. So here is a starting point for you but feel free to improvise and fine-tune to your own taste. 

whole spices in masala chai

How to make Masala Chai

Step One: Lightly crush whole spices using a mortar and pestle. 

crush the whole spices

STEP 2: Simmer the crushed spices in 1 cup water in a small pot or pan, for 5 minutes.

add the black tea

STEP 3. Add the black tea. Then turn off the heat and let it steep for 10 minutes. Boiling the tea will make it bitter, so just bring it to a boil, then turn the heat off.

steep the tea

Step 4:  Add milk of choice. 

If you prefer a “richer” masala chai- you can use all milk and skip the water, simmering the spices and tea, right in the milk. Or if you like a lighter masala chai, cut the milk with water. Up to you- a personal preference. I like half and half

 Masala Chai with Whole Spices and coat milk with maple syrup

Step 5. Heat and sweeten the chai.

Bring the milk and tea just to a boil again, then add sweetener.

How to sweeten Masala Chai

  • The fourth component of Masala Chai is the sweetener. In India, jaggery or cane sugar is typically used.
  • I prefer sweetening Masala Chia with maple syrup or honey instead of sugar. But any sugar, or sugar alternative will work here.
  • Sweeten to your own taste. For a large 8-ounce serving, I use about 2-3 teaspoons of maple syrup – to balance the spices and black tea. Perhaps this seems a bit much, but to me it tastes perfect.
  • Find your own balance 😉 If it tastes overly bitter, it needs more sweetener.
Masala Chai in traditional chai glasses

Step 6. Strain and serve.

How to serve Masala Chai

Yes, it is very typical to serve chai in a glass (vs. a mug) in India, leaving some room at the top to hold the glass. But a cozy mug is perfect too.

Masala Chai in traditional chai glasses

And there you have it, Masala Chai as they make it in India. A delicious morning beverage or afternoon pick-me-up. I also love this in the evenings with decaf black tea.

Masala Chai in a mug with a cinnamon stick

Can Masala Chai Be made ahead?

Feel free to brew a big batch of chai ahead, (leaving out the milk) and store it in the fridge. Then simply pull it out from the fridge and heat it up with the milk.

Authentic Masala Chai in Traditional Chai Glasses

Masala Chai Variations:

  • During my second visit to India, where we primarily stayed in the North, it was very customary to see chai brewed the same way but with the addition of fresh mint leaves. It was heavenly. 
  • Add fennel seeds
  • Add nutmeg

Happy New Year, friends! May this cozy authentic Masala Chai bring comfort and warmth to help get us all through these cold months.

Love and cheers,

Sylvia

 

Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
How to make authentic Masala Chai, like they do in India, using using whole spices. Vegan and Sugar Free adaptable. #chai #chaitea #masalachai #howtomakechai #masala

Masala Chai Recipe

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.9 from 120 reviews
  • Author: Sylvia Fountaine | Feasting at Home
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 15
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 1-2 1x
  • Category: drinks, tea, hot beverage
  • Method: stove-top
  • Cuisine: Indian
  • Diet: Hindu

Description

This authentic Masala Chai recipe is cozy and warm! Learn to make it like they do in India, using fragrant whole spices, black tea, and your choice of milk. 


Ingredients

Units Scale
  1. 45 whole green cardamom pods (or sub white cardamom pods)
  2. 2 whole cloves
  3. 12 star anise (optional )
  4. 45 peppercorns (optional)
  5. 1 cup of water ( see notes)
  6. 23 slices ginger (or more! skins ok) , or sub 1-2 teaspoons ground ginger
  7. 1/2 cinnamon stick – split lengthwise
  8. 12 tablespoons loose-leaf black tea, (or 12 tea bags) Or sub-decaf black tea
  9. 1 cup milk of your choice- organic whole milk, almond milk, oat milk, soy milk, cashew milk, hemp milk ( I like unsweetened, vanilla-flavored almond or oat milk) See notes for “ratio”.
  10. 23 teaspoons (or more or less) maple syrup, honey, sugar or alternative. (Sugar is traditional, but I prefer maple. )

Instructions

  1. Lightly crush cardamom pods, whole cloves, star anise and peppercorns, and place in a small pot with 1 cup of water. Add ginger and cinnamon.  Muddle the ginger a bit right in the pot.
  2. Bring to a simmer, simmer gently for 5-10 minutes covered, and turn off the heat.
  3. Add the tea (Do not boil the tea, it can get bitter) and let it steep for at least 5-minutes.
  4. Add your choice of milk. Bring to a simmer once more, turn off the heat.
  5. Stir in your choice of sweetener, taste, adding more sweetener to taste. If it tastes bitter, you need more sweetener.  Strain into a chai glass or mug.
  6. Feel the love. xoxo

Notes

TEA: Any dark, rich, robust black tea will work best here. Assam, Darjeeling, etc.  You can also make the tea part as strong as you like. Start with one tablespoon loose leaf tea and add more according to your taste. Use loose-leaf or tea bags.

SPICES: Whole spices are preferred here but in a pinch feel free to add or sub ground spices to taste. You can add the ground spices at the end if you like.

MILK RATIO: you can use all milk if you prefer.  I typically use a ratio of  ½ water and ½ milk. Many prefer the richness of all milk, so feel free to adjust to your taste.

BATCH MAKING: You can make a big batch of the masala chai (without the milk) and refrigerate for up to 4 days, and heat up with the milk and sweetener when ready to serve.

You can add more whole spices and more black tea for an even stronger more concentrated version.

UPDATE: While in Northern India this past month, I had this Chai with the addition of a big handful of fresh mint leaves (simmering in the chai). ABSOLUTELY Delicious! Give it a try!

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 16 ounces - using almond milk and 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • Calories: 51
  • Sugar: 6.1 g
  • Sodium: 100.5 mg
  • Fat: 1.6 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 8.9 g
  • Fiber: 0.6 g
  • Protein: 0.9 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

Share this with the world!

Subscribe
to get recipes via email

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

Comments

    1. Hi Anita- I usually use them once, but I prefer the strong flavor. You could try using again and see?

  1. Hi I’ve yet to try it the fresh spices, but I made a batch of spice powder from another recipe I found. When should I add this and how much do you recommend?
    my chai is a bit tasteless at the moment.

    1. Hi Richard, I’m not sure how concentrated the spice powder is, so I would heat the milk/water, then add the powder and sweetener to taste.

      1. I’ve just tried this recipe and what can I say .. Absolutely delicious!!! 👌🏻
        So much better with fresh spices.
        My new favourite drink

        Thanks for sharing 🙂🙂🙂






  2. This is the perfect chai recipe. I searched for years for that perfect tasting chai and now I can have it at home whenever I want! My tea has a slight orange flavour to it (bergamot maybe?) and that combines so well with this recipe. I sometimes top off the cups with frothed milk from my coffee machine, but if you try that, make sure at least 4/5th of the cup is filled with chai first, otherwise the unflavoured frothed milk will dilute it too much and completely change the experience. Love this chai so much!!!






  3. i have never had such a wonderful cup of chai. Made it with fresh whole spices from my local asian market. Absolutely out of this world. Thank you for this recipe.






  4. Thank you Sylvia for the measurements. I love my chai tea. Lately I have been adding a pinch of saffron and it really enhances the taste.

  5. Brings back memories of being on the train in north India with the chai walla delivering the tea through the window at the train station or on a tray walking through the train with the fragrance lingering in the train car ! I will be happy to try this recipe. Thanks

  6. Wow, only four-step and make tea. Really, your recipe is very good. I like it and I take it after lunch and dinner.






  7. Lovely! Will definitely make this every week! Also, I was wondering if I can sub black tea with jasmine green tea? Thanks for the great recipe!






    1. You can give it a try if you like- but jasmine green is quite mild, so it may be overpowered by the spices though.

  8. I made this recipe today and while it came out delicious, I thought that it could use a little more depth. I am thinking of lessening the amount of milk (or adding more spices) next time.

    I also wanted to ask your recommendation for making it more of a vanilla chai. I made mine with regular milk, but next time I am thinking of using vanilla soy milk. Do you think that will be enough or should I add anything else?

    Thank you!!

    1. Hi Kara- you can always add more black tea and/or less milk. I love vanilla soy and think it would be great. You can always add a little vanilla to taste as well.

  9. If I make a big batch so that I can add milk later when I want to drink it, should I strain the spices out before I put the chai in the fridge?

    1. HI Leslie, yes add the milk when you go to heat it up and drink it. If you like your chai “spicy”, you can leave the spices in and strain as you use. Do take the tea bag out though. If using loose tea, this proabaly means straining everything. 😉

  10. I like to sweeten my chai with dates. It’s sweet enough for me plus the dates are delish after their chai immersion!

  11. I have made this and it is delicious. I use fresh ginger and maple 🍁 syrup. My go to treat and I believe tea is just so civilized! Thanks so much for this recipe! 🙂






  12. This is a great recipe! I found it from your pumpkin bread recipe. Really great idea to make it in advance. Being originally from India, I greatly appreciate the respect you have given to this recipe that it deserves. One quick tip and this is not very common, my mom started putting lemongrass in it as she was growing it in her garden back home. Ofcourse it would be a bit expensive here but the taste of lemongrass is amazing in the lightly brewed black tea with milk.

    1. I will have to try that- sounds amazing. In Northern India they add fresh mint which I really LOVE too!

  13. I just made this tea for the first time following your instructions and it was a home run! I made almond milk by blending water and organic almond butter and just enough drops stevia. Finally, I sweetened the finished and simmering chai tea with xylitol and a pinch of monk fruit powder. Tastes like the perfect Halloween drink to bring in October! Can’t wait to try this with homemade pumpkin pie! Thank you!






  14. I was always wary of trying “Chai tea”; however when I tried your Masala Chai, OMG, I fell in love and felt the love from the first sip. I make this recipe almost weekly: a big batch on Sunday and I drink it as a ‘desert’ in the evening. So delicious and soothing. Thank you for another amazing recipe!






  15. The “batch” tip is a great idea! Thanks for sharing. I can’t wait to try this but I think I’ll boil the spice directly in milk though instead of water then adding milk. When I was traveling in Agra,India, my host made me some stovetop chai and that was how he did it. I can’t remember all the spices but I vividly remember he boiled it directly in milk. 🙂






  16. Hi, thank you for this recipe. I made with fresh milk and brown sugar. This is the best combination of spices and the tastiest chai I’ve made so far.

      1. How does one industrially produce this? I have seen beautifully packaged 3-in-1 Masala Chai packaged in Zambia.

        How did they achieve this without straining the ingredients? The taste remained amazing, but I’m guessing it’s nothing compared to the freshly brewed ones with local spices and ingredients.

Our Latest Recipes