Masala Chai…A Simple Cup of Indian Spiced Tea

Happy New Year to our wonderful readers and followers!

Like our mornings, let’s start this year off with a steaming hot cup of Indian spiced tea ‘Masala Chai’.

tea Chai chai latte

Masala Chai – A Simple Cup of Indian Spiced Tea

Few Indian culinary specialties have a larger worldwide fan following than the well-known Indian tea preparation ‘Masala Chai’, better known as just ‘Chai’. In the past decade, this global addiction to Chai has gone through the roof, making it the ‘chicken tikka‘ of this century.

In Western countries, store-bought Chai is sold as a liquid version of Indian Masala Chai, in tetra-packs which can be stored in the refrigerator.

Although many Indian homes keep a ground Chai spice-blend in their pantry; traditionally the Chai brew is always made fresh for consumption.

However, since our post on Ginger Spiced Chai and my mom’s interview with an Indian ‘Chaiwalla’ (roadside tea vendor), a common request from readers has been for a homemade spiced Chai recipe; preferably one that keeps well in the refrigerator, to be consumed as required.

cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, peppercorn

Common Whole Spices for Indian Masala Chai

I say, our modern lives require modern twists to old classics, and today’s Chai recipe does just that.

Made using traditional techniques and 3 of my favorite ‘Chai’ spices, our simple cup of Masala Chai can be consumed fresh or stored in the refrigerator for future consumption.

Either way, nothing beats a hot steaming cuppa on a cold winter day!

Masala Chai

Makes 4 cups


4 ½ cups water
2 cinnamon sticks, two inches each
1 teaspoon whole cardamom
1 teaspoon crushed nutmeg (about ½ a nutmeg)
2 tablespoons loose-leaf black tea*

For consumption, add:
Milk, as per choice**
Sugar or sweetener, as per taste

* Adjust loose tea quantity based on the brand used, its strength and your preference.

**Note on Milk in Chai preparations: For a strong cup of Chai, use a 2:1 ratio of Chai mixture to milk. For a milkier version, try equal parts of each. A Chai-latte has 1:2 ratio of Chai mixture to milk.

cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg

Spices and Tea at a Rolling Boil for ‘Chai’ Mixture

Directions to Make the Masala Chai Mixture for Refrigeration:

This Basic Masala Chai can be Refrigerated for Later Consumption

This Basic Masala Chai can be Refrigerated for Later Consumption

Using a mortar and pestle, crush the whole cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg to release their oils.

In a sauce pan, bring the water with whole crushed spices to a rolling boil, and let it continue boiling for another minute.

Then add the loose-leaf black tea. Once it reaches a boiling point again, switch off the flame and let the tea brew for 5 minutes.

Strain the Masala Chai into a storage jar and refrigerate for 5-7 days.

To consume the Chai, heat refrigerated Chai mixture along with the desired amount of milk and sugar in a sauce pan. When the tea is heated through, pour into a cup and enjoy the delicious hot brew.

Don’t plan to refrigerate the Masala Chai Mixture? Here’s how to make a fresh cup of this Masala Chai:

Add the desired amount of milk and sugar to the water along with crushed spices. Bring this mixture to a boil together. Then add loose-leaf tea to the spiced-milk mixture. Turn off the flame once it reaches a boil and let the Chai brew for a few minutes. Strain the tea before consuming.

Savor steaming hot Masala Chai with your favorite cookie and savory trail mix.

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  1. says

    I love Chai. I make mine with cinnamon sticks, fresh ginger and green cardamom seeds. I’ll have to try it with nutmeg. Do I really use 1/2 of a nutmeg?

    • says

      That’s my favorite combination, its what makes my daily cuppa along with a few fresh mint leaves thrown in:) Yes, 1 teaspoon or approx 1/2 nutmeg based on the size you have for 4 and 1/2 cups of water…reduce the spices accordingly if you’re making just one cup of chai. Some other spices worth experimenting with in Chai are cloves and black pepper! Try a small amount first…

  2. says

    I make masala chai for my mum and I when I’m at hers, and she LOVES it – admittedly I used tea bags, but now I’ll try the real deal – thanks for the recipe :)

  3. says

    Thanks so much for posting this! I used to love whole-milk chai, but since developing a milk allergy, have had to be content with just using the teabags. I’d like to give this a try sometime with rice milk. It sounds so yummy! :)

  4. says

    Thank you for this, Peri – as always, I’m congratulating myself on happening onto your deliciously-smelling blog. I read along in the comments too and I appreciate your cardamom wisdon. All the best to you in 2013.

    • says

      Thanks for your warm and wonderful comment, pleasure to hear from amazing followers who like Indian-inspired flavors! I’ve often had the cardamom question from friends too. Wish you the very best in 2013:)

  5. says

    Looks wonderful Peri! I have a question on the cardamom – do you use the shell and the seed? Or only the seed? I read that you were suppose to throw the shell away but I have been using it when brewing my chai. What do you do? Thanks, Bernice

    • says

      Thanks Bernice…this chai is the one we were chatting about a while back…cardamom shells are a common question to me from my friends, it can get confusing.

      Actually, you are on the right track, always use them whole (slightly crushed to release oils) in things like chai, the shell has tons of great flavor in it.

      Here’s my rule of thumb which I posted a little earlier: if I can fish out the shells at the end (like all my milk based desserts that use cardamom) then I add the shells too…if I can’t, then I use my mom’s old trick and just add the shells into my loose tea jar! They just add flavor to the tea leaves and that’s one thing we always strain before consuming:)

      And I always use them with shells in my ground homemade spice blends like garam masala, the texture is not as fine as store bought, but that’s the joy of a homemade spice:)

  6. says

    Happy new year my dear friend; it has been such a pleasure to follow your delicious blog, hear your stories from home, enjoying recipes, many thanks to you! I will enjoy this lovely chai this weekend, best wishes to you and family xxx Ozlem

    • says

      Happy New Year, dear Ozlem! Thanks for your lovely words…I enjoy your Turkish family recipes and servings too, I learnt so much from you:) Most of all, I love our journey of discovery of each other’s cuisine similarities and subtle differences! What a joy that is:) warm wishes for a wonderful 2013 to you all!

  7. says

    interesting idea. I brew my own each time I want to drink it (and in the winter it is usually when I wake up from my afternoon nap). I grind my own spices in reasonable quantity and keep the spice blend to add to the water and tea leaves. I use cinnamon, cardamon, cloves and ground ginger in the masala mix, and also add some fresh ginger to the boiling water. It is so easy to do, I just prefer brewing it each time I want it. But I like this idea because it means if I expect company, I can do part of this in advance and then just add the milk, serving it up fresh in no time.
    a warm and joyful winter to you
    Jane :-)

    • says

      Thanks, Jane:) That’s exactly how I and most locals would do it! Nothing beats fresh spices and brewing of tea! I grind a small quantity of tea masala (actually my mom or a good friend does it for me:) and then add it to my chai preparation, especially since I have a cup of it every morning…fresh ginger like in my previous chai recipe is one of my favorite winter version…We Paris also like to add fresh mint leaves or fresh cut lemongrass leaves to tea, if you ever feel like trying it:) Wish you a wonderful and happy winter, Peri.

      • says

        hmmmm…I have both mint and lemongrass in my garden. Never thought to do that. Israeli herbal tea is made with these as well (and other lovely herbs), but never thought to add them to my chai. Will give it a try. Sounds lovely! :-)

        • says

          How wonderful! My lemongrass is dormant right now and my mint too…fingers crossed they make it thru winter:) do try them…both work well with the masala chai method, add them with the spices. Some friends of mine find lemongrass too strong but you will commonly find it in a Parsi home…Thanks Jane!

    • says

      Isn’t it? Especially when you see people standing in the hot sun, sweating it out and drinking a hot cup of tea! Actually, north India gets really cold with the region surrounding the Himalayas even covered in snow:) However, south India is a vastly coffee drinking part of India, they have an milky but espresso-style coffee prep called ‘filter coffee’, which is just delicious.

      This simplest version of chai is worth trying on a cold winter day:)

  8. says

    Hi Peri! Happy New Year! Hope it started out well!

    A question about Cardamom, my new favourite spice! How do you use it? Do you always take the seeds out of the pod, do you crush them, how much do you use? I guess what I’d like to know is, what is the general rule of thumb for its use. Thanks! :)

    • says

      Hi Angie, Happy New Year! Yes, we started our year in Spain, beautiful country and amazing food! Hope yours is running along well too:)

      Cardamom can be used in both ways since the shell has a lot of great flavor in it. Here’s my rule of thumb: if I can fish out the shells at the end (like all my milk based desserts that use cardamom) then I add the shells too…if I can’t, then I use my mom’s old trick and just add the shells into my loose tea jar! They just add flavor to the tea and that’s one thing we always strain before consuming:)

      Also, when I make the garam masala blend at home, I do use the shells and grind them with the rest of the spices in the spice grinder, it works out just fine:) hope this clears it up a bit…have an awesome 2013!


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