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How To Make Chai Tea At Home

On a cold, frosty morning, nothing beats the winter blues like a rich, warming spiced Chai tea. The buzz from the tea plus the kick of the spices wakes you up and the rich creamy texture warms you right to the core.

Masala Chai basically translates to spiced tea and this is what you’d ask for if you were to order the drink in India.

Like most things, the western world has put its own spin on this wonderful tradition with Chai lattes turning up in chain coffee shops like Starbucks.

You don’t need to travel far to enjoy a delicious Chai tea, the recipe is simple and the technique is straightforward. You can make a rich and satisfying Masala Chai in the comfort of your own kitchen as long as you have milk, tea, sugar, and some spices to hand.

Before we get deep into how we make this fantastic beverage let’s first get familiar with the drink itself and why it is so special.

How To Make Chai Tea At Home

What Is Chai Tea

Masala Chai or spiced tea is a traditional Indian drink that has become popular globally. It is made by stewing black tea in milk alongside aromatic herbs and spices. It’s fragrant, spicy, and fully satisfying so it’s no wonder it has found its way into most coffee shops and tea houses in the West.

History Of Chai Tea

The word Chai is actually derived from the Hindi word for tea and the tradition of this tea dates back around 5000 years. The story goes that the king of India around this time ordered this beverage to be made as a healing elixir. This fits in with the tradition of Ayurveda which is a healing practice that focuses on herbs and spices for their medicinal properties.

A careful selection of spices was brewed into the hot tea producing a drink that supposedly treated pain, elevated your mood, and help support circulation.

As the drink spread across India, many variations in ingredients emerged depending on different regions. Milk and sugar found their way into the drink much later on when the British took over the region around the 1800s.


The components that make up Chai tea do vary a lot but they are typically all derived from these 4 essential ingredients.


Black tea is the standard ingredient when making chai tea. Assam and Darjeeling are Indian native teas and their rich flavor is quite at home in a chai tea blend.

That doesn’t mean these are the only two options however as many other types of tea can be found in Chai mixes. Green tea and even herbal blends are not uncommon across some Countries.


The original Indian choice would have been buffalo milk but over in the west, cow’s milk is the standard. A rich, creamy whole milk is ideal to give you that winter cosy feel but if you don’t drink dairy then fear not. Non-dairy kinds of milk can work just as well.

Almond milk, oat milk, and soy are great options but you can use any milk you like really. A good idea is to choose one that’s heat-stable ie barista blend so that it doesn’t burn.

Chai Spices In A Lever Jar


The next ingredient category is the spice mix. This is where you can get really creative as there are no fixed rules.

The most common traditional choices would be cardamon, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, star anise, and black peppercorns.

Some more traditional options that work extremely well are fennel seeds, nutmeg, mace, and vanilla.

A more western twist to the drink may include bay leaves, all-spice, cacao, coriander, cumin, and saffron.

As you can see, the spice choice is not limited at all!


The icing on the cake that finishes off any delicious chai tea is the sweetener. You can choose any sweetener you like or leave it out altogether. Typical choices include white sugar, brown sugar, honey, demerara, and coconut sugar.

You can always use sugar-free sweeteners if you prefer or flavored syrup if you want to take it to the other extreme.


To brew chai tea you’ll need a saucepan and a tea strainer. That’s it!

If you don’t have a tea strainer then a fine-mesh sieve, french press, muslin cloth, cold brew coffee maker, or any type of water infuser will do nicely.

You need something with a fine filter to remove the tea and whole spices but not as fine as filter paper as this will struggle with the milk.


There are lots of different methods when it comes to making Chai tea so I’ll just cover the way I love to make chai tea at home.

I use a milk frother as the pot can sit on the stovetop to heat up and the mesh is perfect to strain out the tea.

I’ll add some water to the pot (about 8oz) and to this I add the tea. A heaped tablespoon of loose leaf tea is perfect but if you don’t have this then emptying a tea bag does nicely. Bring this to simmer and add 2 teaspoons of brown sugar.

Next, I’ll add 4 oz of milk to the mix.

Alongside this, I add 3 crushed cardamon pods, a slice of fresh ginger, 1 cinnamon stick, a pinch of fennel seeds, 4-5 black peppercorns, 2 cloves, and a single star anise.

Simmer this mixture gently until the spices become aromatic and the tea is a rich tan color, stirring regularly.

I use the milk frother to press the tea and spices and serve this mixture into a tall glass or mug.

Feel free to adjust this recipe to suit your individual taste preferences ie more or less sweetener and spices.

Pouring Some Chai Tea

Perils and Pitfalls

Take it from someone who has failed in many ways to make chai tea. There are lots of mistakes you run into and here are a few that I’ve made so you don’t have to.

Chai tea is delicious and can swing between being a healthy and warming drink to a sugar-laden treat, only to be enjoyed on occasion. Be wary with the sugar or sweetener you add as this can influence the recipe either way.

Don’t add a tea-bag to the milk mixture as the milk fats can clog up the filter and prevent a good tea infusion. It’s best to use loose leaf tea or open the bag before you add the tea to the mixture.

I’ve tried passing the mixture through a coffee pour-over set up and this doesn’t work well at all. The filter paper gets clogged up with the milk and you’re left with a slimy, sludgy mess rather than a rich mug of chai.

Another issue to avoid is filtering the mixture through too fine a mesh. The tea and spices can clog up a fine mesh coffee filter so these are best avoided.

Especially if using dairy-free milk, don’t bring it to the boil. Keep the mixture below 70C otherwise it may curdle and separate which quickly makes for a mug of disappointment.


Chai tea is a winter warmer, hug in a mug. It’s aromatic, spicy, and delicious. Chai tea has a long history that dates back to over 5000 years and is an Indian specialty. There are many different combinations of ingredients and methods to make Masala Chai so it’s the perfect drink to experiment with to get the perfect taste to suit you.

Related Reading

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Try Using Evaporated Milk In Your Coffee Instead of Milk


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