Every Indian family has their own way of making chai. This is my family’s recipe. This is the real deal – an authentic cup of chai is so easy to make!
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).
Regular chai 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 a few spices that you’ll need for masala chai: cardamom, cloves, fennel seeds, cinnamon (optional) and sometimes I’ll add fresh ginger too. Add these spices along with 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.
Personally, I like my chai strong with a spicy ginger flavor. Ginger can act as an anti-inflammatory and while that’s a bonus, I just love the flavor.
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, you can use whatever you like! I prefer whole milk because it makes the chai perfectly creamy but non-dairy milk is just fine too. I like almond milk (here’s my homemade almond milk recipe) or cashew milk when making a dairy-free chai.Print
- 1 ½ cups water
- ½ cup whole milk (adjust to desired creaminess preference)
- 2 green cardamom pods, crushed
- 2 whole cloves
- Pinch of fennel seeds
- knob of sliced fresh ginger, optional
- ¼ inch cinnamon stick, optional
- 2 good quality black tea bags (or loose tea equivalent)
- Sweetener of your choice (I prefer sugar in chai)
- Pour the water into a teapot or small pot and add the spices. Bring the water to a low boil.
- Add the tea to the pot and cover the pot for 2 minutes.
- Remove the cover and once the color of the water changes to your liking, add the milk.
- 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!).
- Put your cover back on the pot, strain your chai and serve.
- Add sweetener to taste (I prefer using regular sugar when enjoying chai)
- If you’re using non-dairy milk such as almond milk, I like using 1 cup of water and 1 cup of almond milk. You can adjust this according to your taste and to how creamy you prefer your chai.