Indian Masala Chai aka Chai tea served in a white cup

Masala Chai Recipe (Indian Masala Tea)

By Swasthi on September 16, 2023, Comments, Jump to Recipe

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.

Indian Masala Chai also known as Chai Tea served in a white cup

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.

More Indian beverages
Adrak Chai (Ginger Milk Tea)
Irani Chai
Turmeric Tea
Ginger Tea
Turmeric Milk
Lassi Recipe
Mango Lassi

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.

black tea to make masala chai

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.

Masala chai spices

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.

milk, water, sugar to make masala chai

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.

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)
add spices to grinder

2. Crush them fine (or slightly coarse is okay) to bring out the flavors.

make a fine powder

Make Masala Tea

3. Heat 1½ cups water in a sauce pot. Add

  • Masala chai powder we just made above
  • ½ teaspoon ginger (optional, ½ inch peeled & chopped or grated)
  • 2½ to 3 teaspoons CTC loose leaf black 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)
make tea decoction

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.

simmering masala chai decoction

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.

pouring milk

6. Bring the tea to a rolling boil and simmer on a medium heat until the tea turns dark, for 2 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.

simmering masala chai

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 1 to 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.

pull or aerate the masala chai

8. Lastly Strain/ filter masala chai tea to serving cups.

strain the tea

Serve Masala Chai hot or warm with biscuits.

masala chai recipe

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.

spices used to make chai powder

2. This will give you about 3 tsps powder.

fresh ground masala chai powder ready to store in jar

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.

chopped ginger with tea powder & masala to make chai

Serve masala chai hot or warm.

Faqs

What is masala chai made of?

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.

What is the difference between chai and masala chai?

Chai is a generic term meaning ‘tea’ in Hindi, while masala chai means ‘spiced tea’. Masala means ‘spices’ and chai means ‘tea’.

Can I drink masala tea every day?

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.

Why is my Masala tea watery (diluted)?

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.

Why is my tea bitter?

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.

Why did my masala tea curdle?

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.

Related Recipes

Recipe Card

Masala Chai Recipe first published in September 2014. Updated & Republished in May 2023.

masala chai tea recipe

Masala Chai Recipe (Indian Masala Tea)

Indian masala chai is one of the most enjoyed beverages in India. Masala meaning a mixture of spices is simmered along with milk and tea leaves or powder. Then it is lightly sweetened with sugar. This recipe will give you masala tea that you would get in any standard Indian restaurant.
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For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card

Prep Time2 minutes
Cook Time8 minutes
Total Time10 minutes
Servings2 people
AuthorSwasthi

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

  • cups water
  • 1 cup full fat milk (adjust to taste, Refer notes)
  • 2½ to 3 teaspoons black tea leaves or 1¼ to 1½ teaspoon tea powder (dust) (or 3 to 4 tea bags, Refer notes)
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons sugar or as needed
  • ½ teaspoon (½ inch) ginger chopped or 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)


Instructions

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. 
  • Heat water in a pot. Add the ground spices, crushed/chopped ginger and tea. (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. (If using tea bags remove them at this stage and keep aside.)
  • Reduce the heat and simmer until the chai (tea) becomes dark, for about 2 mins.
  • 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 1 to 1½ 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.


Notes

  • 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.
  • Tea bags: boiling your chai with tea bags for too long can make it too strong or even bitter. So remove them at the time of adding milk.
  • 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.

Video

Watch Masala Chai Video

NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)

Nutrition Facts
Masala Chai Recipe (Indian Masala Tea)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 93 Calories from Fat 27
% Daily Value*
Fat 3g5%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Cholesterol 9mg3%
Sodium 59mg3%
Potassium 120mg3%
Carbohydrates 11g4%
Sugar 9g10%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin A 250IU5%
Calcium 103mg10%
Iron 0.6mg3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Mention @SwasthisRecipes or tag #swasthisrecipes!

© Swasthi’s Recipes

Masala Chai Recipe (Indian Masala Tea)

About Swasthi

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 useful

5 stars
I had never really considered making chai tea myself until I came across your recipe last year. I have been using Darjeeling tea bags from Tazo to brew with turmeric for my migraine. Your website was an eye opener to me learning all about the spices & health benefits from your other posts. I started to make herbal and spiced tea taking inspiration from this masala chai and the other ginger tea recipes here. I love them all!

5 stars
This Masala Chai is just PHENOMENAL. I believe there are more than a dozen varieties of chai tea made in India. Please share some more.

The best masala chai is the tea that you want to drink again and again! Tweak this recipe to make your best chai! I make mine with a heaping tablespoon of black tea. Longer simmer makes a stronger chai which is the best for our taste.

5 stars
Excellent recipe. I liked it. It’s good while having cold and throat problem. 😍

If using Basil, it is fine to boil the leaves. But if using genuine Tulasi, Ocimum sanctum, Holy Basil, which is of two kinds (Rama Tulasi, Krishna Tulasi) then do not boil. It is beneficial to add after making the tea before offering to any Vishnu tattva. Then you can consume, swallow don’t chew.

Hello. How can I make in a larger batch? If I want to make enough of the first method for 5 people, do I do the same thing but just multiply the ingredients by 5?

5 stars
I love this chai tea recipe for a really nice blend of spices, not overwhelming like many other recipes I have tried. Followed the instructions as written and crushing the spices is what worked well for me. Adding the cinnamon stick and star anise straight to the tea is overwhelming for my taste buds. I am a tea lover and intrigued to try your other tea recipes during this winter. Chai latte should be my next try!

5 stars
How much of the powdered spices to I add to the pot to boil ?
It says how much tea and ginger.

5 stars
Used tea bags and quarter tsp of ground ginger. Turned out perfect. In the recipe card you did not mention to remove the tea bags before adding milk but it is included in the step by step method. Next time will certainly do that for a less stronger tea.

5 stars
This recipe helps me make a good decent masala chai at home. A lot of people misunderstand the natural astringent taste of tea to be bitter. To make a strong Indian chai you need to adjust the amount of black tea leaves to your taste. 1 cup milk, 1.5 cups water, 3 tsps black tea gives me the best. Thank you for the step by step tutorial. Sharing this with my friends.

Question as why the powder method uses fennel seeds, star anise and nutmeg but not the first method recipe which used fresh ginger?

Thank you for responding Swasthi.

5 stars
Thank You for providing this detailed and comprehensive guide to making my favorite tea 💓🤗💓

3 stars
I’d take issue with the time the tea leaves are being boiled: 6-7mins total. I made this and it was bitter. After a lot of trial & error I now do the recipe above (minus cloves) but do all the cooking without the tea. I then turn the heat off, add the tea and brew for 2.5 mins. Delicious!

5 stars
There is a small tea shop near our aunt’s place. People always queue up to drink the chai tea and rave about it. I once went there with my dad to experience the taste of chai. We were blown away and the guy told us he uses evaporated milk and many spices. I wanted to try out but never have evaporated milk and I was excited to found this recipe. I made it just with cardamom. My dad says it tastes delicious and we are loving it. Thank you

I think I’m in love with this masala chai. Just wondering how many times in a day can it be consumed. What is the best way to store this and for how long?

5 stars
Swasthi, Love your recipes! What is the difference between tata gold and wagh bhakri? Is it the flavor or taste?

5 stars
I love chai tea. I live in the suburbs with no access to Indian restaurants. Fortunately I was able to order the ingredients online and my first chai tea was a huge hit. My family loves it too. Thank you for the fabulous video. I’m in love with your website & going to try out more Indian recipes.

Hi I have been just putting chai masala powder from my local store into s cup of Rooibos tea or black coffee…not boiling it. Will this still be ok?
Annie

Made the first version of this recipe and it turned out great! I changed it a little bit and used soy milk instead of regular milk, it is delicious! Will be a part of my daily life from now on 🙂

5 stars
Thank for teaching me to make chai.

5 stars
This chai tea is incredibly fragrant and satisfies my cravings for an authentic masala chai I enjoyed back in India. Replaced fresh ginger and whole spices for ground. Worked out well.