Masala Chai

This Christmas, my girlfriend got me the most wonderful gift: a basketful of all of the ingredients I would need to make my own masala chai. Masala chai is essentially an Indian spiced tea. It’s something you’ll find called simply Chai at most coffee shops and cafes here in the States. However, most of these drinks are made with a powdered, sealed, preserved additive, rather than freshly ground whole spices. There’s nothing quite like the real thing…


There is no single definitive recipe for Masala Chai, as it depends greatly on region, family and what’s available. A quick search provides many many different recipes, but they all include a tea (usually black), a milk (I use soy), and various mixes of spices. Here is the recipe I currently use, but it has been, and will continue to be, iterative.

  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • pinch of cloves (4-6)
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 anise star
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • ½ cup soy milk (vanilla flavored)
  • 2 tbsp darjeeling tea
  • 1 tsp ground ginger (fresh is best)

Grind cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, anise, black pepper 1 2. Bring to boil 3 cups filtered water. 3 Add spices, remove from heat, cover for 5 minutes 4. Add milk and sugar, boil again. Remove from heat, add tea, steep covered for 3 minutes. Strain into serving container (like a teapot 5 .)


  1. I make my chai using whole spices and loose leaf tea
  2. I grind the spices by hand with a mortar and pestle
  3. I prepare the elixir on the stove, as seems to be traditional
  4. I heat the ground spices separately to elicit more flavor
  5. I use a japanese style cast iron teapot