Chai Masala (aka Indian spiced tea) is a warm, soothing tea made with milk and Indian spices such as cardamom and ginger. Today I'm teaching you how to make this authentic chai tea recipe at home, including a homemade masala chai spice mix!
How to Make Chai Tea Lattes
You are probably familiar with the chai tea lattes served at the big coffee chains, but let me tell you, they are nothing like homemade chai masala.
Now, people who know me well know that I’m not a tea person. Coffee will always be my first love. But there are days when I want a cup of chai, like when it finally gets a little cold here in the Middle East. Not cold by the rest of the world’s standards, but it's cold for us because we’re so used to living in a crazy hot climate.
For special occasions, however, I love to make this chai masala recipe. It’s simple and quite delicious with its hint of Indian spices. Make it once, and you can store it in an airtight container for months.
What Does Masala Mean?
The word masala means a mixture of spices ground into a powder or paste. Masala Chai is a popular spiced tea made all over Pakistan and India. It's made with black tea, milk, and fragrant whole spices such as cardamom, ginger, and cinnamon.
Why This Recipe Works
- Homemade Masala Chai Spice Mix: This is a special blend of whole spices that I first dry roast to release the aroma, and then grind to a coarse powder in a spice grinder. The benefit of making your own chai masala powder blend is that you can change up the ratio as you like. And the flavor is amazing!
- Easy to Store: Once you have the chai spice blend ready, you can store it in an airtight jar and use it anytime to make this tea.
- Aromatic: The problem with most masala chai recipes is that they add the whole spices or spice mix with the boiling water. This causes the aroma to cook off and disappear away so that you can’t actually taste the flavor in the tea. In this recipe, we add the chai masala spices at the very end when the tea is almost ready. Try it this way, and you’ll see what a big difference it makes!
- Always Frothy: Using my recipe and cooking technique will help you achieve a frothy tea every single time!
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Whole spices: You’ll need a variety of whole spices to make this tea such as green cardamom pods, black cardamom, fennel seeds, whole black pepper, cloves, cinnamon sticks, and nutmeg.
- Milk: I recommend using whole milk for the best results, but you can use any milk of your choice.
- Loose black tea leaves: I highly recommend that you use this instead of tea bags, because the flavor is incomparable. Some of my favorite tea brands are Lipton and Tetely. I recommend the Assam variety of tea.
- Sugar: As much or as little as you like. Or use your favorite sweetener.
- Water: The ratio of water to milk I use makes the perfect cup of creamy, delicious chai masala.
How to Make Chai Masala
- Prepare the spice mix: We start by dry roasting the whole spices in a pan on low heat. This helps to release the aroma and essential oils of the spices. Then we let the whole spices cool down to room temperature, and grind them into a coarse powder. This is your masala powder. Set aside while you prepare the chai.
- Bring water to a boil, and add the tea and sugar. Continue boiling for 3-4 minutes.
- Now add the milk, and cook on medium-high heat, letting the milk come to a boil 3-4 times. To achieve frothiness, using a ladle in an upward and downward movement helps to create aeration which in turn helps in forming that coveted frothiness.
- Add the spice blend: Now is the right time to add the chai spice mix, because we won’t be cooking out the flavors. Add a teaspoon of the spice mix, and let the tea come to simmer one more time.
- Remove from heat, and cover for 2-3 minutes. Pour the tea through a tea strainer into mugs and serve immediately.
- Your masala chai tea is now ready to be enjoyed!
- Store it: This Indian tea recipe makes a big batch of the spice blend, so you can store it in an airtight for later use. You can even double the recipe to make a bigger batch to last you longer.
- Use a coffee grinder: To easily grind the whole spices, use a coffee or spice grinder. You can also use a mortar and pestle, but that will require a bit more arm muscle.
- Adjust the ratios: You can easily adjust the ratio of the whole spices to your liking.
- Keep an eye on the boiling milk, as it can go from boiling to spilling all over the stove in just a second. I’ve learned this the hard way.
- Pour from a height: When ladling the tea, it’s recommended to pour from a height, as this helps to create a lot of aeration.
- Use only a small amount of the spice blend for 1-2 cups of chai, as it is potent and can become overpowering if you use too much.
Masala chai is typically made with whole spices such as green cardamom, black cardamom, fennel seeds, whole black peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon sticks, and nutmeg. They are first dry roasted and then ground into a coarse powder.
The main difference between the two is that chai does not call for whole spices, while chai masala ingredients typically include a blend of whole spices such as green cardamom, cinnamon and cloves.
More Delicious & Soothing Beverages:
- Haldi Doodh
- Homemade Chai Recipe
- Hot Chocolate Coffee
- Unicorn Hot Chocolate
- Italian Hot Chocolate
- French Hot Chocolate
- Nutella Hot Chocolate
Note: This post was originally published on Nov 6, 2019. It has now been updated for photos and detailed instructions.
Masala Chai Recipe
For the Spice Mix:
- 1/3 cup green cardamom (choti elaichi)
- 3-4 black cardamom (moti elaichi)
- 1 Tbsp fennel seeds (Saunf)
- 1 Tbsp whole black peppercorns
- 1/2 Tbsp cloves (laung)
- 2 cinnamon sticks (dalchini)
- 1 nutmeg (jaiphal)
For the Chai:
- 3/4 cup whole milk (180ml)
- 1 cup water (240ml)
- 2 tsp black tea leaves
- 3 tsp sugar
Prepare the Chai Spice Mix:
- In a skillet, dry roast the whole spices on low heat for 3-4 minutes until fragrant. Spices are delicate, so it’s highly recommend that you use low heat for this step.
- Remove from heat, and let cool to room temperature.
- Break the cinnamon sticks into 2-3 pieces. Also break the outer shell of the nutmeg. This will make grinding them easier.
- Using a coffee or spice grinder, add the roasted whole spices and grind to a coarse powder. Set aside while you prepare the chai.
Make the Masala Chai:
- In a small saucepan, add the water and bring to a boil.
- Add the black tea leaves and sugar, and let it come to a full boil.
- Now add the milk, and cook for 5-7 minutes while constantly ladling upward and downward.
- Once the tea has come to a boil 3-4 times, add the prepared spice mix.
- Bring to another boil, and then remove from the heat.
- Remove from heat, and cover for 2-3 minutes.
- Pour the tea through a tea strainer into mugs and serve immediately.