Masala chai is a variant of the popular Indian chai – a beverage made with black tea powder from the teas grown in the Asian continent by boiling it with milk, spices, water and sugar. Chai is popular across India and is consumed on the streets as well as in corporate offices. Chai is consumed in all seasons and any time of the day across most countries in the Indian subcontinent.
Coffee houses use the term chai latte or chai tea latte for their version to indicate that it is made with steamed milk, much like that used to make a caffè latte, but mixed with a spiced tea powder.
Chai is steeped in a rich history. The name “chai” is actually the Hindi word for “tea”, which was derived from “cha”, the Chinese word for “tea”. The Hindi term chai means a mix of spices mixed into a tea-like beverage. Recipes for chai vary across continents, cultures, towns and families. But the traditional ingredients of a spiced tea blend usually include black tea mixed with spices, like cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, ginger and black peppercorns. The spiced tea mixture is typically brewed strong with milk and sweetened with sugar or honey. Masala chai has gained popularity across the Indian subcontinent only in the last couple of hundred years since Britsh established trade routes and tea cultivation across hilly regions of India.
My recipe for masala chai is a milder version of the traditional recipes you may find across India. I love the fragrance of black tea and hence keeping the spices to a minimum level is a focus of my recipe.
My recipe for masala chai includes below ingredients:
- Black Tea : We need a strong variety of Black tea – The base tea is usually a strong black tea, so the spices and sweeteners do not overpower it. The Assam black teas native to India are most popular to use as a base for masala chai. These varieties of tea have a deep fragrance characterized by smoky, earthy, and nutty notes. It usually gives a cup with more caffeine than many other Indian teas, especially if the leaves are broken. Assam teas are full-bodied with a unique malty and robust flavor. I have been using Brooke Bond Red Label tea powder for many years, which uses teas grown in Assam and northeastern parts of India.
- Sweetener: White sugar, brown sugar, or honey are typical chai sweeteners, but other sugars, like demerara, turbinado or coconut, may also be used.
- Milk: Milk helps to bind the tea flavor with the spices and also makes the beverage more tasty. I prefer to use regular dairy milk (2% fat) . You may chose dairy alternatives, like soy, almond, rice and coconut milks, but the taste will vary accordingly.
- Fresh Ginger (grated) : I use just two spices in my recipe. Fresh ginger and green cardamom. Ginger has a spicy, warm, and peppery taste, which makes it an excellent ingredient for teas
- Green cardamom (powdered pods) : Green cardamom has complex aroma with a piney, fruity, and almost menthol-like flavor. Known as “The Queen of Spices”, green cardamom has a slightly sweet flavor.
The taste of masala chai varies on the following factors –
- The type of black tea powder and its freshness
- The ratio of ingredients- water, milk , sugar, ginger and cardamom, and black tea
- The duration and temperature at which the tea is boiled
The process I use to make masala chai is very simple. Read the instructions below and also view the attached video.
- Boil water with grated fresh Ginger and sugar
- Add milk and green cardamom powder
- Bring the mixture to a rolling boil
- Add tea powder
- Boil for 1-2 minutes depending on how strong you want the tea to taste.
- Turn off the heat. Let the tea stand for one minute so the tea powder settles down.
- Filter the tea using a mesh strainer directly into the teacups
- Drink while the tea is hot
I hope you will find this recipe helpful and tasty. Please rate this recipe. If you have liked it, please share it with your friends. For more updates on new recipes, please subscribe.
Masala Chai – A simple recipe
Masala Chai is a popular Indian beverage that is made with black tea, ginger, cardamom, milk, and sugar.
- Saucepan (thick bottom)
- Grater for ginger
Steps to prepare tea
- Keep the saucepan on the stove at medium heat
- Add water to the saucepan
- Add grated fresh ginger and sugar
- Mix well and bring the mixture to boil
- Now add milk and cardamom powder
- Bring the mixture to boil
- Add tea powder and stir well
- Reduce heat to bring the tea to simmer
- Let the tea simmer for 1-2 minutes
- NOTE : This is a key step - we want to watch for the color of tea to turn light golden brown/tan. If you overboil the tea, the tea will turn bitter. We want our tea to be infused with the right level of flavors.
- Remove from heat, and let the tea stand for 1-2 minutes
- Filter the tea using a strainer into the serving cups
- Serve while the tea is hot.