A fragrantly spiced Masala chai that is perfect for breakfast or your evening tea. Masala Chai also known as Masala Tea is a hot beverage made with water, whole spices, black tea powder, sugar and milk. Make this tasty Indian spiced tea in just 10 minutes!
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Masala tea is a favorite Indian beverage. Many Indians enjoy tea in the morning or during the evening. The Hindi names ‘Masala’ here refers to spices and “Chai” means tea.
Masala tea is made by brewing tea in water together with the spices, sugar and a touch of milk added later.
In India, it is common to add a variety of herbs and spices to the everyday tea or chai that we make. The types of herbs and spices used vary from family to family.
In fact, many families tend to have their own version of Masala chai. This recipe shows how to make Masala chai without using the premade Masala Tea Powder.
Ingredients You Need
Masala chai is made with a mix of staple ingredients that every Indian kitchen has.
- Black tea powder
- Spices and herbs
Depending on your taste preferences and health constitution, the quantity of spices can vary or you can omit adding some of them.
Spices and Herbs I Add
- Cinnamon – A spice known for its fragrant, warm, woody aroma; cinnamon is also antibacterial, antifungal and has antioxidant properties.
- Cloves – Imparts a nice mild sweet pungent taste to the tea. Cloves also have antioxidant properties and are antimicrobial.
- Green Cardamom – Infuses a lovely sweet fragrance. You can choose to either crush the whole green pods or add ground cardamom powder. Cardamom is good for digestion and a good mouth and breath freshener as well.
- Ginger – It is a warming pungent herb and can be added either crushed or grated. Ginger is very good to deal with morning sickness and nausea. It is also antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and good for digestion.
- More Herbs – Additionally, you can also include herbs like mint leaves, lemongrass and spices like nutmeg, fennel seeds, black pepper and long pepper in your chai recipe. Ayurvedic herbs like Ashwagandha and Mulethi (licorice root) are also a few options.
I have also shared a post on Herbal Tea with detailed information about different spices used in Indian tea.
Which Tea To Use
In Indian homes, the type of tea that is used to make our everyday chai is black tea that comes in granular form. There are two kinds that are used – Tea Dust and CTC. Both are referred to as tea powder here.
CTR refers to Crush, Tear and Curl. The tea leaves are crushed, torn and curled using cylindrical rollers at various stages. This processed tea has a granular texture or can be in the form of pellets and is called CTC or Mamri tea.
A stronger tea variety like Assam tea is the most preferred CTC tea to make this drink. But some folks also prefer a lighter and milder tea like the Darjeeling tea. There are premade mixes of both Assam and Darjeeling tea or Assam and Nilgiri available that can be used.
We always make our chai with Assam tea powder as the robust and bold spices harmonize with the intense flavors of this tea.
You can also opt to use tea leaves or tea bags. If using tea leaves then steep them in the water for 2 to 4 minutes to get the desired flavor in the brew.
In India, we can easily buy the tea powder in any grocery store. If you live outside India, then buy Assam tea powder or tea leaves or tea bags from any Indian grocery store or online. Preferably try to buy organic tea powder or leaves.
This Masala chai recipe serves 2 to 3. It can be easily halved, doubled or tripled by simply adjusting the amount of ingredients. Serve Masala tea steaming hot on its own or with Indian snacks such pakora, samosa, aloo tikki, sandwiches, nankhatai or biscuits.
Here is my everyday version of Masala chai recipe, feel free to adapt it to your taste!
How to Make Masala Chai
Crush The Masala (Spices)
1. Add 1 inch cinnamon, 2 to 3 green cardamoms, 2 cloves and 1-inch peeled ginger to a mortar-pestle. Use true cinnamon and not cassia cinnamon.
2. Crush coarsely with the pestle and set aside. But make sure that the ginger is flattened and crushed well. Alternatively choose to grate the ginger and add the spices whole or crushed.
3. Using a saucepan or small pan with a handle, heat 2 cups of water (500 ml).
4. Let the water come to a boil and add the crushed spices. If required, add a generous pinch of nutmeg powder to the spices. Either mint leaves or lemongrass can also be added at this step.
5. Boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Add sugar to taste. I usually add 4 teaspoons of raw sugar. Some people prefer a very sweet tea. So you can increase the amount of sugar according to your taste preferences and also on the type and quality of sugar you are using.
Brew Masala Tea
6. Now add 2 teaspoons of Assam tea powder or tea dust. Boil for 1 minute. This boiling time depends on how strong you want your tea. If you prefer a deeper and stronger brew, then simmer for a few more minutes. But this can make the tea have some bitter notes.
Note that if you use tea leaves then instead of boiling you have to steep the tea. For steeping boil the water together with spices. Switch off the heat. Add the tea leaves. Stir to mix and cover with lid.
Steep the tea for 2 to 4 minutes depend upon the strength and concentration of the tea you prefer. Then add hot milk to the steeped tea. Mix, strain and serve.
7. Add ¼ cup of milk (at room temperature or cold). You may add more milk if required.
For a vegan chai, soy or almond milk or cashew milk may also be used. If using soy milk, add to the tea mixture and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.
If using almond milk or cashew milk or oats milk, then heat separately in another small saucepan. Add to the tea and switch off the heat. Stir to mix. Do not let the almond or cashew milk come to a boil otherwise, the tea will have a grainy texture.
8. After adding milk boil for 2 to 3 minutes. If using chilled milk, boil for 2 to 3 minutes. If using hot milk, then add the milk and switch off the heat.
9. Pour the masala tea through a tea strainer directly into a cup.
10. Serve Masala chai steaming hot with Indian snacks of your choice such as aloo pakora, veg cutlet, samosa, aloo tikki, onion pakoda, bread pakora, medu vada, biscuits or cookies.
- Milk: The amount of milk added varies from person to person. So you can add milk as per your preference.
- Tea brand: The brand of tea also makes a difference to the overall flavor. I always use Assam tea as it is stronger than Darjeeling tea. But I do know some folks who prefer a mix of Assam + Darjeeling tea or only Darjeeling tea. What I have used here is organic Assam tea which is not the same as tea leaves, but in granules. You may use either one.
- Spice: You may adjust the quantity of spice as required. I would suggest reducing the quantity of spice in the summertime as spices increase body heat and sweating. Increasing the quantity of spice may help to keep the body warm during winter or also when you have cold.
- Making tea: The classic way of making tea is to steep the tea leaves in hot water. The Indian method is boiling the tea leaves for some minutes. I usually add milk later. Though in some families, water, milk and tea leaves are boiled together.
- Strong tea: This recipe is a strong tea due to the taste and aroma of Assam tea along with the flavor of the spices. Adjust the amount of ginger to suit your taste.
Masala chai has the flavor and taste of the black tea in tandem with the milk, sugar and the spices or herbs used. The overall taste is determined by the kind and amount of spices and herbs added. It has a fragrant, spiced, astringent and a strong flavor.
Although Masala chai is traditionally brewed with milk, some people drink it without milk. It is just another taste. So yes you can. If you do plan to skip on the milk, then I recommend making masala chai with Darjeeling tea leaves.
Together with the ground chai masala powder, you will need to add milk powder, powdered sugar and tea powder in the premix. Some testing and experimentation will be needed to gauge the flavors of the chai premix that you make. You can check the labels of some brands that sell premix powder for more ideas.
Either option works. I usually crush the pods and add the crushed seeds as well as the green husks. The cardamom husks also has a lot of flavor in it. So I add it to my tea.
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Masala Chai | Masala Tea (Indian Spiced Milk Tea)
- 2 cups water
- 4 teaspoons raw sugar or add as per taste
- 2 teaspoons black tea – granules or tea leaves, preferably Assam CTC tea
- ¼ cup milk or add as per taste
- 1 inch cinnamon – true cinnamon and not cassia cinnamon
- 2 to 3 green cardamoms
- 2 cloves
- 1 inch ginger
- Take cinnamon, green cardamoms, cloves and peeled ginger in a mortar-pestle.
- Crush coarsely and set aside.
- In a sauce pan or a small pan with a handle, heat water.
- Let the water come to a boil and then add the crushed spices.
- Boil the spices along with the water for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add sugar as per taste. I usually add 4 teaspoons of raw sugar. You can add more or less.
- Now add 2 teaspoons of assam tea powder. Boil for a minute. This boiling time depends on how strong you want your tea. If you prefer a strong intense tea, then boil for a few more minutes.
- Add milk. After adding milk boil for 2 to 3 minutes.
- If using chilled milk, then boil with tea for 2 to 3 minutes. If using hot milk, then add the milk and switch off the heat.
- Pour the tea through a tea strainer directly in the cup.
- Serve masala chai hot with some Indian snacks or cookies or biscuits.
- Choose to skip adding any spice depending on your taste preferences and health needs.
- Preferably use black tea like CTC Assam tea powder or Assam tea leaves. If its organic its better.
- For vegan chai, add soy milk, cashew milk, oats milk or almond milk. If using cashew milk or almond milk or oats milk, then heat separately and add it to the hot tea brew. With soy milk you can boil it with the brew for a few minutes.
- For making masala chai with tea leaves you need to steep the leaves instead of boiling in water. First boil the water together with spices. Then switch off the heat and add the tea leaves. Mix with a spoon and cover pan with lid. Let the tea leaves steep for 2 to 4 minutes depend upon the strength and flavor you prefer. Later add hot milk to the steeped tea. Mix, strain and serve.
Nutrition Info (Approximate values)
This Masala Chai Recipe post from the archives (June 2016) has been republished and updated on 24 September 2021.