Indian Masala Chai

Indian Masala Chai by Ashley of

I took my mom to Starbucks once… it didn’t go well. We spent the morning shopping and by the afternoon, she was craving chai. I had two choices: go home so my mom could make her own chai OR convince mom to go to Starbucks so we could keep shopping. I (wrongly) chose the second option. We stood in line and I ordered my mom a “chai” with milk. After taking literally one sip, my mom handed me the tea and said she couldn’t drink it.

So. That said, forget about ordering a chai latte at Starbucks. It will never taste as good as what you can make in your kitchen in just a matter of minutes. To make authentic masala chai, all you need is some black tea, a few spices and your choice of milk.

I grew up watching my parents drink chai, two times a day – morning and afternoon. I’m Punjabi, so we actually call it “cha” and not chai, but same difference. Both words mean tea. Whenever we visit India, it seems like people are forever drinking cha. It’s so good. I love drinking a cup of tea while snacking on mathis (savory Indian biscuits).

Indian Masala Chai by Ashley of

Every Indian family has their own way of making cha. Below is the way that my mom taught me. There are two versions that we typically drink in my house – one has ginger and the other doesn’t. Ginger cha (see my notes) is my favorite – I like it strong with that spicy ginger flavor. Ginger can act as an anti-inflammatory and can help relax the GI tract. For me, that’s a bonus. I just love the flavor. There’s also a cinnamon cha (see notes below) that you can make. I like cinnamon in my coffee but it’s not my cup of tea.. to have it in my tea 😉

Regular cha is soo easy to make. After making it just once, you’ll probably wonder why you ever spent $5 on a chai latte. There are three spices that you’ll need for masala chai: cardamom, cloves, fennel seeds. Add these spices along with 1 cup of water to a teapot. Bring the water to a low boil and then add your black tea. When the color of the water changes to a nice deep brown, add your milk. Bring everything to a boil and then turn off heat, put the cover back on the teapot and then strain your chai and serve. Make sure you carefully watch your pot while boiling the tea to make sure the milk doesn’t boil over.

For my recipe, I use black tea bags, but you can certainly use loose black tea if you’d like. I think most people probably have easier access to the bags, which is why I’m using them here. As for the milk, I use almond milk (here’s my homemade almond milk recipe) or cashew milk. If you prefer whole milk, use that – just see my notes.

Indian Masala Chai
  1. Add cardamom, cloves, fennel seeds and water to teapot - bring to a low boil.
  2. Add tea bags to water and cover for 2 minutes.
  3. Remove cover and once the color of the water changes to your liking, add almond milk.
  4. Bring everything to a full boil, then turn off the heat (be sure to carefully watch the pot so the tea doesn't boil over!).
  5. Put your cover back on the pot, strain your chai and serve.
  6. Add sweetener to taste.
If you want a ginger (or cinnamon) masala tea, add an extra ¼ c water and ½ inch knob of grated ginger (or cinnamon stick) - and boil the spices longer for a stronger flavor.

If you are using whole milk, then use 1 ½ c water and ½ c whole milk instead of the proportions listed above.


    • says

      Hi Penny, the nutritional info will depend on what type of dairy and sweetener you decide to use. The fat/calories will only come from the milk and sweetener. As for refrigeration, you can certainly do this, however, most Indian families serve this hot chai immediately after making it. I think a fresh cup will always taste better :) If you’re looking to make a single serving, just halve the recipe – that’s what I do!

    • says

      Hi Jen! Like coffee, this hot chai is best served immediately after making it. We are so used to making this that it doesn’t seem like much to make it daily. I’m honestly not sure how long it’ll last if you make a big batch and keep it in the fridge. If you try this, please report back!

  1. says

    I loved this Chai Masala recipe, and I have included it on my website’s facebook page as a recommendation! It works perfect for my Spice Series, which focuses on the medicinal and culinary benefits of some of these spices for our diet. Thanks for the recipe!

  2. says

    This sounds delicious! Wondering why you recommend skim milk for non-paleo people?! What about all those gorgeous fats in raw whole milk? And skim milk has added milk powder to it to make it thicker…as well as homogenized– both possibly connected to heart disease. I might consider recommending that to your viewers :o) That’s my too sense if you are interested!! Beautiful blog by the way!

    • says

      Hi Lauren – thanks for the comment! I don’t recommend skim (or whole) to anyone – I just wanted to let people know the different ratios because otherwise I’m sure they’d ask in the comments. Sorry if I came off as promoting either! I agree with you about raw milk – I can’t drink it because my body doesn’t do well with dairy (it’s actually also illegal in WV). Truthfully though, I have been thinking of getting some raw milk from PA to see if it’s really the milk that gives me trouble or the added chemicals in it. Thanks for the food for thought :)

  3. Karen says

    Thanks for this recipe. I’m not a fan of almond milk and wondering what you think about substituting hemp milk? Also, I see Cardamom pods in a lot of your recipes but when I shop the spice section I can ol find the ground. Should I be looking somewere else for the pods?

  4. Sonia says

    I love chai, so decided to try this tea, and I loved it! Thanks I am also exited to try some of your other Indian paleo recipes ☺


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