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The Complete Guide to Masala Chai

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The Complete Guide to Masala Chai

The secret to a spectacular masala chai recipe? A strong, black Assam tea as the base. From there, the options are as limitless as the spices in your kitchen! To help you unleash your cup creativity, we gathered our favorite black tea chai recipes made from scratch with fresh spices.

A note on vernacular: in India, chai always has milk and spices. So the word “chai” covers all the versions we refer to here in the US, including masala chai and a chai latte. Also, it’s usually served with more than a generous spoonful of sugar and piping hot in a thin-walled metal cup that requires balance to avoid burning your fingers. It’s best enjoyed at a roadside stall during a winding trip through the mountains.

    Masala Chai Recipe From Scratch

    Chai spices and ingredients on a wooden block

    Nothing delivers explosive flavor and bursting aroma better than fresh spices. Sure, it takes an extra 15 minutes to make your own chai spice, but the fragrance that fills the house is worth it! The two big differences between this recipe and the previous one are:

    1) Separating the spices from the tea. Here, we add the spices to the cold water first, bring them to a boil, then add the tea. The result is a more balanced cup where the tea leaves’ flavor is better expressed.

    2) Introducing cinnamon. Our favorite spice has a tendency to dominate blends, but works superbly when added as a stick. And bonus points for how attractive it looks!

    Ingredients (Makes 2 mugs)

    • 1.5 cups cold water⁠
    • 0.5 inch fresh ginger (roughly cut, unpeeled is fine) ⁠
    • 3 cardamom pods, crushed ⁠
    • 0.5 tsp. black peppercorns⁠
    • 1 inch dried cinnamon stick⁠
    • 2 Tbsp. Assam Black Tea
    • 0.5 cup milk (or mylk alternative)⁠
    • 1 Tbsp. sugar (or sweetener of choice)⁠


    1. Combine water with ginger, cardamom pods, black peppercorns, and cinnamon stick in a saucepan.
    2. Bring to boil and keep at boil for 5 minutes.
    3. Reduce heat, then add Assam Black tea. Simmer for 5 minutes.
    4. Add milk and sugar, simmer for 3 minutes.
    5. Strain out tea and spices and serve!⁠


    Want to explore a few other tea recipes? 


    Blog Author:

    Raj Vable, Founder of Young Mountain Tea

    Raj Vable, Founder

    He has been confounded by the leaf since his first transcendental encounter with white tea in 2010. Three years later, he started Young Mountain Tea to bridge his budding tea obsession with his interest in traveling in the mountains and previous experience creating job opportunities in rural India. He revels in working across cultures and can be regularly found trying to get the rest of the team on board with another outlandish tea project. His favorite teas remain white, and he’s always searching for the next cup of magic. 

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