Masala Chai Recipe (Masala Tea)
Masala Chai also known as Masala Tea is India’s most popular drink and is loved by everyone. Imagine the flavors of brewing – sweet, spicy, hot and aromatic spices with sugar, milk and tea… Amazing Right? This Indian Masala Chai is just that – amazingly flavorsome, delicious and totally relaxing.
A hot cup of Masala Chai is an amazing way to soothe your senses and refresh your mind. In this post I share the method to make a perfect cup of Indian Masala Chai at home!! (from scratch).
A lot of Indians love to sip their Masala Chai all-round the year along with their breakfast and evening snack. Some limit it to monsoons & cold winters because it keeps the body warm and helps break up the blocked sinus.
Many different kinds of tea are made across the world and each one has its own properties so they have different health benefits.
About Masala Chai
Masala Chai is an Indian beverage made by brewing black tea with fragrant spices, sugar and milk. In Hindi the word “Masala” means “spices” and “Chai” means “Tea”.
So Masala Chai also known as CHAI TEA by the non-natives, is Indian milk tea brewed with aromatic spices. There are also versions where aromatic herbs like mint (pudina) and Tulsi (holy basil) are added to it.
Chai is usually served with biscuits, rusk, Onion Pakora, Samosa and Sandwiches.
Every Indian family may have their own recipe to make Masala Tea. The combination of spices, the quantity of milk, water and the kind of tea to use – is a personal choice & this is what decides the strength, flavor and taste of your Masala Chai.
In this post I share the way I make at home & it closely matches the flavors of masala chai available in good Standard Indian restaurants. It can be made in so many flavors all to suit your liking. So you can also easily customize this recipe to your taste.
There are 2 basic ways a Masala Chai is made. I have shared both the ways here in this post. The first method is to make it instantly with just 3 to 4 basic spices. They are crushed and then simmered with tea & water. Later you just add milk and simmer further. We don’t need any other tea masala for this.
The second one is great if you wish to enjoy Masala Chai regularly or often. To make this, whole spices are ground in a spice grinder and stored. Making your cup of Masala Chai is super easy with this, add it to your everyday milk tea and simmer for some time so flavors of masala are infused.
Masala Chai Vs Chai Latte
Is Masala Chai same as Chai Latte? A lot of people think both are same! But actually Masala Chai (Tea) and Chai Latte are not the same.
Masala Chai has a tea decoction and milk simmered together so the milk is fully infused with the flavors of chai and spices. But Chai Latte is made by simply pouring the chai/tea decoction to a serving cup and then topped with frothy milk.
Both taste & smell very different even though they are made from the same chai decoction. Masala Chai has a stronger karak/kadak flavor due the simmering of milk with decoction, while Chai Latte tastes lighter with a milky aroma because it is simply milk flavored with chai decoction.
Lastly the ratio of milk in both these is different.
How to choose your Black Tea
Traditionally masala chai is made with loose tea leaves but now most people use processed black tea which is in granular or powder form. There are basically 2 different kinds of processed tea in the market – CTC and Tea dust.
CTC tea is produced by processing tea leaves through cylindrical rollers to Crush, Tear and Curl them, the resulting processed tea is in a granular or pellet form. This CTC tea imparts bolder and robost flavors to your masala chai along with a deep brown color.
Tea dust is another kind of processed tea which is finer and is almost in powder form. Apart from these you can also make masala tea with black tea bags which contains the same tea dust.
In India tea is grown largely in 3 regions and each is named after the region – Assam tea, Darjeeling tea and Nilgiri tea. Each of these have a different flavour, strength and taste due to the soil profile, weather and region.
In South India, Nilgiri tea is more commonly used and everywhere else it is the Assam tea that is more popular. Again it is a personal choice and you need to try out a few until you find something that you really love.
Types of Tea
Assam tea is loved for its deep color and strong flavour. If you love strong tea known as kadak chai, this may be the one for you. Darjeeling tea is well known for fruity flavour. Nilgiri tea has a fruity flavour of the Darjeeling tea and strong bold flavors like Assam tea.
Nilgiri tea won’t leave any astringent taste even if it is brewed for longer as they contain very little tannins. So it is suitable to those who like to make strong chai by simmering the tea with spices and milk for longer.
In a lot of places in South India, you will find tea being simmered for too long to get that full-bodied strong tea. It tastes really so good with just a little amount of milk in it. So if you prefer simmering your tea for longer then go with Nilgiri.
If you don’t live in India, then use any strong black tea you like.
Choosing other ingredients
Spices – The basic and most common spices used in masala tea are green cardamoms, cloves and cinnamon. The other optional spices are black pepper, ginger, fennel seeds, nutmeg and star anise. Each spice has its own health benefits. To know more scroll down to read my pro tips section.
Milk – The quantity of milk to add depends on your personal taste and the kind of milk used. Too much milk in your tea can completely alter the taste of your tea and can cause acidity.
Masala chai with too little milk will also not taste good and will be watery. An ideal ratio of water to milk can range from 1:1 to 3:1 depending on the kind of milk – homogenized, non-homogenized, toned and raw milk . In India a lot of people use raw water buffalo milk which is thicker than the regular cow milk so 3:1 is the common ratio.
I have provided more details in the notes section of the recipe card.
Sweetener – Traditionally unrefined sweetener known as jaggery is used. It is a personal choice and we love ours with cane sugar. You can also have it with any other sweetener of your choice. If using jaggery, coconut sugar or palm jaggery add them once you turn off the heat.
More Indian beverages
How to Make Masala Chai (Stepwise photos)
Method 1 – Make Black Tea
Crush the Spices
1. To make instant masala chai, add the following whole spices (masala) to a small mortar pestle or spice grinder.
- 2 to 3 cloves (2 for milder flavor)
- ½ to ¾ cinnamon (Cassia or Ceylon)
- 4 green cardamoms
- 2 pepper corn (optional, or a pinch of ground pepper)
2. Crush them fine (or slightly coarse is okay) to bring out the flavors.
Make Masala Tea
3. Add the following ingredients to a sauce pot:
- 1½ to 1¾ cups water
- 2½ to 3½ teaspoons CTC Tea or 1¼ to 1½ teaspoon powder (dust), depending on the brand. You can use more or less depending on the kind of tea you are using. Or You can also use 3 to 4 tea bags. (Start with lower tea and if required add more after adding milk)
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon ginger (optional, peeled & chopped or grated)
- Masala chai powder we just made above
4. Bring this to a rolling boil on a medium high flame & turn down to medium or low. Let the decoction boil for 2 to 3 mins.
5. Add sugar at this stage. I use 3 to 4 teaspoons. You can use as little or as much as you prefer. Pour 1 cup full fat milk to the simmering black tea. Adjust the quantity of milk as needed. Adding milk before boiling the ginger well will more likely curdle the milk. So ensure you add the milk only after boiling the ginger well with black tea.
If using tea bags, remove them from the pot and keep aside. Boiling the tea bags too long will leave a bitter taste. If your tea isn’t strong enough, you may add more tea bags.
6. Bring the tea to a rolling boil and simmer on a medium heat until the tea turns dark, for 3 to 4 mins. Simmering helps the tea to thicken. I usually simmer until it reduces to 1¾ cups. Fresh holy basil (tulsi) or mint leaves can also be used for variations. You can taste test and add more milk if you prefer. But simmer again for a little longer so the tea doesn’t have the milk flavor.
Aerate Masala Chai (optional)
7. As the chai boils, you will see a layer of cream on top. Turn off the heat. Pulled masala chai tastes best as the milk fats are dispersed during the process & you get the same taste as from a chaiwallah. Using a soup ladle pull or aerate the tea a few times.
If you do not have a soup ladle, simply pour some of the hot tea to a measuring cup (that has a handle) and pour that back to the chai pot in a slow stream, from a height of about 1½ feet. This should break down the layer of milk cream and create some froth. Repeat this steps of pulling tea from the pot to the measuring cup a few times (4 to 5 times) until all of the cream is broken down and incorporated back into the masala chai.
8. Filter masala chai tea to serving cups.
Serve Masala Chai hot or warm with biscuits.
Method 2 – Make Chai Masala Powder
1. This is the second method. If you drink masala tea regularly, you can make the masala chai powder in little larger quantity and store it in a glass jar. For quantities refer the recipe card below.
2. This will give you about 3 tsps powder.
3. To make masala tea, fresh ginger, tea powder or tea leaves, and ground spices are simmered in water to infuse the flavors. You can use the same quantities of water and milk mentioned in the recipe card.
Serve masala chai hot or warm.
Masala chai is made with black tea, spices, sugar and milk. It is basically black tea simmered with spices, sugar and milk. Various spices like cloves, cinnamon, cardamoms, nutmeg, black pepper and ginger are used.
Chai is a generic term meaning ‘tea’ in Hindi, while masala chai means ‘spiced tea’. Masala means ‘spices’ and chai means ‘tea’.
Yes a lot of Indians drink masala tea every day, round the year. But it depends on where you live and your body constitution. If you live in a hot and humid weather, reduce the warming spices like cloves and black pepper and increase the quantity of green cardamoms. Limit your consumption to 1 to 2 cups a day.
You have used too much water or too little milk. The right ratio of water to milk is very crucial to make a good chai. For best results, you will need anywhere from 1:1 to 3:1 ratios (W: M) depending on the kind of milk.
Full fat Homogenized, toned & raw cow milk work with 3:1 ratio while low fat and non-homogenized cow milk (pasteurized, pre-boiled) work with 1:1 ratio. However do experiment a few times to arrive at what works well for you.
Using a lot of tea leaves or powder can make your tea bitter. The amount of tea to use again depends on the brand of tea and kind of milk you use. Try reducing the quantity of tea next time or add more milk and simmer for a while to cut down the bitterness.
Most masala tea recipes use fresh ginger. If you use fresh ginger, always boil it first along with black tea, until the decoction reaches a boiling point. Add the milk only after that. Adding milk early before the ginger boils can curdle the milk due to ginger protease enzyme known as zingibain. Boiling the ginger to a boiling point will destroy this enzyme so your tea won’t curdle.
Masala Chai Recipe first published in September 2014. Updated & Republished in May 2023.
Masala Chai Recipe (Masala Tea)
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
Method 1 – Instant masala chai powder
- 4 green cardamoms (elaichi)
- 2 cloves (3 for stronger flavor)
- ½ to ¾ inch cinnamon piece (cassia or Ceylon)
- 2 pepper corn (or a pinch of ground pepper, optional)
To make Tea
- 1½ to 1¾ cups water
- 1 cup full fat milk (adjust to taste, Refer notes)
- 2½ to 3½ teaspoons black tea leaves or 1¼ to 1½ teaspoon tea powder (dust) (or 4 tea bags, Refer notes)
- 2 to 3 teaspoons sugar or as needed
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon ginger freshly chopped or ½ inch crushed (optional)
Method 2 – Makes 3 tsp masala chai powder
- 1 teaspoon green cardamoms (5 grams skinned) (elaichi)
- ½ teaspoon cloves (2 grams)
- 2½ to 3 grams cinnamon (cassia or Ceylon)
- ¼ teaspoon fennel seeds (1½ grams) (saunf)
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon black pepper corn (½ tsp ground pepper)
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg grated or ⅓ of large nutmeg
- 2 petals star flower (star anise) (chakri phool)
How to make Masala Chai (Method 1)
- Add cloves, cardamom, cinnamon stick & black pepper to a mortar pestle or a spice grinder. Crush or grind them to a powder.
- Pour water to a pot. Add the tea, ground spices & crushed/chopped ginger. (Start with lower amount of tea and if required you may add more after adding milk)
- Bring this to a rolling boil and reduce the heat to medium. Boil for 3 mins until the decoction turns dark.
- Pour milk and add sugar. Bring it to a boil on a medium high heat.
- Reduce the heat and simmer until the tea becomes dark, for about 3 to 4 mins. I usually simmer the entire tea until it reduces approximately to 1¾ cups.
- When the masala tea is ready, you will see a layer of cream on top and also the milk flavor is gone.
- Optionally aerate or pull your masala chai for the same Chaiwallah taste. Take a soup ladle and aerate the masala chai or simply pour some chai to a measuring cup. Pour the hot tea in a slow stream, back to the chai pot from a height of 1½ to 2 feet.
- Repeat this step of pulling hot masala chai from the pot to the cup, a few times (4 to 5 times). This breaks down the layer of cream and incorporates it back to the masala chai making it more tasty and thick.
- Strain the masala chai to serving cups & serve with any breakfast, snack or biscuits.
Method 2 – Making masala chai powder or chai masala
- Clean all the spices and add to a blender jar. Powder finely. Store it in an airtight glass jar.
- Use about ½ to ¾ tsp or more to make 2 servings of tea. For stronger tea you can use about ¾ tsp.
- Avoid overboiling the tea: If you boil too long, the tea turns bitter and becomes too heavy. Turn off when you begin to smell the sweet flavor in your tea.
- Tea powder/ leaves: The strength of tea depends on the kind of tea used like tea powder, tea leaves etc. It also depends on the brand of tea powder or leaves. Do adjust the quantities as desired. You won’t really know the right amount that works well unless you experiment a few times.
- Kadak Chai: This recipe will give you a proper Kadak Chai with 1½ teaspoon tea powder (dust) or 3½ teaspoons CTC loose tea leaves (Assam) & full fat homogenized or toned milk.
- Brands of Tea : Wagh bakri, Tata Gold are some of the best known brands for loose leaf tea.
- Milk: Some like tea to be more milky and some less. Also adjust the quantity of milk if needed. I have tested this recipe with various kinds of full fat milk – fresh, homogenized and toned. Fresh homogenized and toned work well with the same quantities mentioned in the recipe.
- Low fat milk: If you are using low fat milk or non-homogenized cow milk, use milk and water in 1:1 proportions.
- Spices: You can increase or decrease the quantity of spices to suit your taste. I buy all my spices locally in Singapore but are grown in India or Sri Lanka.
- A few strands of saffron can be added for a unique flavor.
- You can add few tulsi (holy basil) leaves to increase immunity, though we may not benefit as much as eating the raw leaves.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
Watch Masala Chai Video
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills. More about me
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So happy you’ve posted this. I’ve tried this with a few types of milk – oat, full fat cow, low-fat cow, and this morning water buffalo. I’m wondering if raw milk would give it a thicker body? Everything I’ve used this far has been pasteurized. Looking for some way to get it slightly creamier.
Thank you Aaron. Fresh raw water buffalo milk gives a more creamier chai. I have another new recipe coming up next week with more details.
I had made masala chai a lot of times with packaged chai blend but never with my own and I’m so glad I gave this recipe a try! I will never go back to buying it again. I love the depth of flavors and it tasted delicious. I bought all the ingredients from Indian grocery & the seller advised me to use wagh bhakri. Glad I did! Wondering if I can make a chai concentrate from this recipe and just stir in the steamed milk. Thank you for the advice.
That’s Awesome to know Tamara. Wagh bhakri is one of the most preferred chai brands by Indians. You can make the chai decoction and refrigerate for a week. Reheat as need and stir in the hot milk.
Thank you. Turned out great but I will reduce little milk next time.
Thanks Nanda. Yes you can reduce to 3/4 cup.
How much is a serving of chai?
200 ml is a standard cup of chai. But a lot of people also drink 120 to 140 ml , a half chai/cutting chai because they drink it several times a day.
This is an excellent chai. I made mine following this recipe but used ground dried ginger and no black pepper. While in culinary school I learnt that tea bags are a big NO for masala chai. You want the authentic flavors go with loose leaf black tea and fresh crushed spices. Tea bags and dust are lower grade. To avoid bitter taste use high quality tea and boil lesser. Longer boil brings out more tanins meaning more bitter flavors. But many say it is astringent and not bitter. Depends on your perspective. Thanks for the recipe and hope many others will enjoy this.
Glad you like it Toby. Yes in India many people use dried ginger in place of fresh and almost never or rarely use tea bags. I guess many prefer them because it is easier for clean up. Thank you so much for sharing.
This is a very good recipe! Question, can you make it without milk and sugar? If so would you replace the cup of milk with more water, or could you cut the whole second boiling step and just start with more water? Thanks!
Thanks Steve. Yes you can make it without milk and sugar. 1 cardamom, 1 clove, 1/4 inch cinnamon, 1 to 2 pepper corn, ½ teaspoon tea and 1 cup water makes 1 serving. Let the ground spices simmer in boiling water for 2 mins before adding the tea. Simmer for another 2 mins. You can also add mint leaves or a few strands of saffron to this. Hope this helps.
This chai was delicious. I bought all the ingredients from a nearby Indian grocery and made the first recipe. My family was home for a weekend and they all loved it. Thank you for the excellent recipe.
Glad you like it June. Thanks for sharing back
Tried this masala chai recipe and my husband is loving it. I have always made by stirring the milk into the ready hot chai decoction. But boiling milk with the tea imparted deeper flavours. Thank you.
Yes you are right, boiling milk with tea deepens the flavors. Thanks for trying and sharing back.
Best Masala Chai I’ve ever made! I’ve found through your recipe that you should run the spices in a spice grinder to get a lot more flavour out of them. Spices are expensive use them with brains!!!!!!!! Adding whole spices without grinding is a lot of waste. Thank you for your step by step guide and I’m loving your recipes. From chai, samosa to lamb curry, you make everything taste the best.
Thank you Katarina. So glad to know you like the recipes.
Great recipe! I’m hooked to your website!!!!! Making everything from masala chai to biryani… Your recipes are amazing. Keep up the great work.
Thank you so much Sarah. You made my day.
Tried many masala chai recipes but this one worked well. Thank you
Happy to know it worked for you. Thanks Kate
This masala chai is delicious. Love sipping this every evening. Can you suggest some brands of loose tea?
Thank you Haseena. Glad you like it. Try wagh bakri or tata gold.
Feeling awesome after having this masala chai on cold & rainy days. This hits the spot when you want to have something more than a normal chai. The flavors are great with both the options you give. I make a small batch of the masala chai powder. It helps me make a cup of good chai anytime instantly without having to crush every time. Thank you for sharing your Indian culture with us.
Mari, Thank you! So glad you have been enjoying it. This makes me happy
I love this masala chai and have been making it for a few months now. Tried out both ways, with instant crushed spices and pre-made masala chai powder from this recipe. I have been loving it with the pre-made spice blend for the robust flavors. Next is your chai latte!! Hope it turns out as good as this.
Thank you so much Ash for trying and sharing back how it went for you. I’m sure you will love the chai latte too.
Great recipe- easy to follow with the steps and pics and came out as described- yum!
Thank you Sam
This tea is so delicious. Can I replace the fresh ginger with ginger powder? And how much is the substitute amount? Thanks!
Hi, You can try adding a pinch for each serving. Every brand is different and some are really strong.
Could you tell me how many gram anis seeds should I use instead of 2 star anis? Thanks in advance!
You may leave out star anise if you don’t have.
I would love to make this but only have ground spices. Is it possible to accomplish the same taste?
Thanks in advance.
Yes you can get the same flavor.
I am shocked at how simple but delicious this recipe is. I have not went out to buy coffee in weeks. Thank you for sharing!
Thank you! So glad to know!
Delicious chai tea.
Really really good