Masala Chai recipe with whole spices, black tea and milk is the comfort in a mug on a chilly evening. You can make this spiced milk tea in just 10 minutes!
I shared a very basic masala chai Reel on Instagram, which surprisingly has garnered the most likes and views and continues to do so. It deserves a place on the blog so hope this recipe post helps you to make your best masala chai.
What is masala chai made of?
Masala = Spice
Chai = Tea
Masala Chai = Spiced Tea
as simple as that... but please refrain from calling it Spiced Chai Tea.
Black tea is simmered with whole spices and milk for a deeply coloured, steaming, aromatic and sweet masala chai. You will love this homemade masala chai made from scratch with warming spices like fennel seeds, cloves, cardamom, pepper and cinnamon.
That said, every Indian family has their method and spice blend for making masala chai.
The careful selection of whole spices makes your chai masala. This is not set on stone. You can make Masala Chai differently by altering the spices used and its quantities.
To do that, you should know the flavour profile of the spices used. For example, for sweeter taste, you can increase cardamom and fennel seeds and for hotter or warmer taste, you can increase peppercorns and ginger.
My mom makes it bare minimum with cardamom and ginger. The masala for your chai should reflect your taste preferences.
I am sharing my not-so-secret recipe so you too can make two cups of best masala chai and enjoy it with your loved one. Here is the list of masala chai recipe ingredients.
- cardamom pods
- cinnamon stick
- black peppercorns
- fennel seeds
- tea leaves
Please see the recipe card for quantities.
Fresh ginger or ground ginger
You can use fresh, ground or dried ginger as long as you like the taste. So the only way to know is to test it. I prefer fresh ginger but when I don't have it, I use ginger powder.
I usually keep a ginger root exclusively for making masala chai and grate it with the skin right into the teapot. In the video though, I have shown pounding the ginger piece which is okay to do. But with grating, a little goes a long way.
Tip to store fresh ginger
Store fresh ginger root in a paper bag in the fridge to last it longer. If you cut a ginger, make sure to pat dry the cut side before storing again. You can also wrap the ginger in a piece of foil and keep refrigerated in the veggie box. If kept outside for several days, it may start to sprout or decay.
Black loose tea leaves are the best for making masala chai. I prefer Assam or Darjeeling varieties. You may use tea bags but you need at least 2 tea bags per cup of chai, in my opinion. Choose the best tea you can get because the quality of tea leaves will define the flavour of the masala chai.
HINT: Nowadays, you get to buy premade masala chai tea leaves and they are not bad either. You can check out any Indian supermarket aisle for tea to find inspiration for your masala chai spice blend.
How much tea leaves to use?
It is hard to tell how much black tea leaves you will need because of a) the tea variety and b) personal preference. For some brands you need only a tablespoon for a strong chai but for others, you will need to more to get the colour you looking for.
My tip for you - the masala chai you are making should reach your desired "strong" by 7 to 10 minutes at medium heat. If you boil more than this timeframe the chai can get a bad taste and no amount of sugar can fix it.
So, start with a tablespoon of tea leaves and add a teaspoon more towards the last few minutes if you find the chai is too "light". You have to do this only the first time or until you find your sweet spot.
Let me show you the step-by-step process of making two cups of masala chai.
How to make it?
How do you make the best homemade masala chai tea?
Pro Tip: Keep a timer and ensure your chai is done by 8 to 10 minutes max. Any longer has high chances of it tasting bitter. Boiling longer than 10 minutes will also reduce the chai quantity to evaporation.
You will find a thin film of milk fat on top of the chai. Though it is completely normal, some like my Mr F prefer to pick and discard it. I just mix it back into the chai 🙂
Add the water to a small deep saucepot and heat on medium to high until tiny bubbles start appearing.
Add the loose tea leaves
and the crushed whole spices along with ginger.
Bring this to a boil over high heat. Stir a few times and let it boil until the tea turns dark and the spices are fragrant.
At around 5 minutes mark, pour the milk.
Use the same cup or a ladle to aerate the chai by scooping some chai and pour it back into the pot from a height. Repeat this a few times and then bring the milk chai to a boil.
Keep an eye on the chai as it may boil over and spill. When the milk chai rises with foam, take the pan off the heat and swirl to settle.
Or you may reduce the heat to low and let it simmer and then bring it back up to medium or high. Repeat the boiling and swirling at least twice or until the chai gets deep colour. Not more than 3 minutes.
Strain the hot masala chai through a fine-mesh tea strainer held over a teapot. Pour the chai into the mugs from a height to get the classic foam. Serve immediately with your favourite teatime treats.
If your chai is not looking strong enough, add some more tea leaves and continue to simmer until you're satisfied but not more than 10 minutes.
Ginger: You can skip or use "Sonth" which is hindi for dried ginger. They come in both pieces and powder form. Ground ginger is same as sonth.
tea leaves: For this recipe, try using the black loose tea leaves. Do not use green tea leaves.
milk: I always recommend full-fat for the best taste, but you may use skimmed milk.
sweetener: You can use white granulated sugar or take it to another flavour by adding jaggery for a take of Gud ki chai.
- You can include a tiny grateing of nutmeg and a lemon grass for a different flavour profile.
- Play around with the whole spices to get your personal blend.
- deep saucepot or tea pot
Once prepared, it is best to consume masala chai immediately. If you do end up having a cup leftover, then it is better to warm it up just until steaming. I personally don't like the taste of chai that is no longer hot.
Chai can be any tea with milk but when it is termed masala chai, then it is made with the addition of ground chai masala or whole spices.
Chai masala is a spice blend used in making masala chai. Nowadays, you can find it being used in cakes and desserts but just like Pumpkin spice does not have pumpkin, chai masala does not include chai. 🙂
Masala chai is a hot milk tea with a sweet and spicy taste from black tea blended with aromatic warm spices like cloves, cardamom, ginger, etc. and milk.
Ever wondered how "chai" came to be? I came across an interesting article in Live Mint by Aravinda Anantharaman where she shares how tea became "chai". Read it when you have time.
Homemade Masala Chai with Whole Spices
- 1 tea strainer
- 3 to 4 green cardamom
- 2 to 3 cloves
- 1 inch cinnamon stick
- 1 to 2 black peppercorns
- 1 pinch fennel seeds
- 2 to 3 slice ginger
- 1½ cups water
- 1 to 2 tablespoons black tea leaves
- ½ cup full-fat milk
- sweetener as per taste
- Add the water to a small deep saucepot and heat on medium to high until tiny bubbles start appearing. Keep a track of the time you start.1½ cups water
- Lightly pound the whole spices and fresh ginger in a mortar and pestle. This is an optional step but recommended.
- Add the loose tea leaves and crushed whole spices along with ginger. Bring this to a boil over medium to high heat. Stir a few times and let it boil until the tea turns dark. For about 2 to 3 minutes.3 to 4 green cardamom, 2 to 3 cloves, 1 inch cinnamon stick, 1 to 2 black peppercorns, 1 pinch fennel seeds, 1 to 2 tablespoons black tea leaves, 2 to 3 slice ginger
- At around 5 minutes mark, pour the milk. Use the same cup or a ladle to aerate the chai by scooping some chai and pouring it back into the pot from a height. Repeat this a few times and then bring the milk chai to a full boil.½ cup full-fat milk
- Meanwhile, keep your mugs and kettles ready with the sweetener of your choice.sweetener as per taste
- Keep an eye on the chai as it may boil over and spill. When the milk chai rises with foam, take the pan off the heat and swirl to settle. Or you may reduce the heat to low and let it simmer and then bring it back up to medium or high. At this point, if your chai is not looking strong enough, add a teaspoon more tea leaves. Repeat the boiling and swirling at least twice or until the chai gets the deep colour you desire. Not more than 3 minutes.
- Strain the hot masala chai through a fine-mesh tea strainer held over a teapot.
- Pour the chai into the mugs from a height. Serve immediately with your favourite teatime treats.