Masala Chai - Indian Spice Tea (authentic recipe from the Himalayas)

Picture of Masala Chai - Indian Spice Tea (authentic recipe from the Himalayas)
Last year, I travelled through Northern India. At almost each corner, there is a booth offering chai (= tea). Apart from regular black tea, there is this very very delicious masala tea, i.e. tea with spices, milk & sugar.

In a town at the foot of the Himalaya Mountains, the owner of the small B&B where we stayed offered me a glimpse into his kitchen. This is where I learnt how to make this masala chai.

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Step 1: Ingredients & tools

Picture of Ingredients & tools
The typical tea glasses in Northern India are rather small, containing approx 0.5 cups of tea.

This recipe is more making two of these glasses.  If you have bigger glasses, you should increase the amount of ingredients accordingly.


1.5 cups of milk (during the cooking you will loose a third of your milk); I'll use 1.5% fat; Indian milk has more fat (6-8%), but they mix with water for making tea; so 1.5% fat should be ok.

1 tea spoon black tea (any black tea will do, e.g. broken Darjeeling)

3 pieces of cinnamon bark

2 inches of fresh ginger

2 capsules of green cardamom

2 cloves

1 table spoon of sugar (adjust the amount to your taste)


a knife

a pot & a spoon

a small strainer

2 tea glasses (for 0.5 cups content)

Step 2: Prepare the ingredients

Picture of Prepare the ingredients
Open the cardamom (we'll use both parts: the shell & the seeds).

Break the cinnamon into small pieces.

Peel & chop the ginger.

Step 3: Cook

Picture of Cook
Put all ingredients into a pot and put it on a stove with medium to high heat.

Let the tea come to a boil and then let it boil for 2 minutes.

When it starts to boil over, remove it from the heat for a couple of seconds.
The tea should rise and fall several times. By this means it becomes a bit creamy.

You'll notice that a noticeable amount of liquid will boil away, this is why you have to take approx. a third more milk than fits into your glasses.

Step 4: Strain

Picture of Strain
Strain the tea into the glasses & enjoy.
supri8822 days ago

Just tried this! However used 2% fat milk and 1 inch ginger; added sugar after cooking so I only used like about 1 teaspoon sugar. It's very fragrant and I can't wait to try this one out more perhaps with some crushed peppercorns next time as well :)

kfrill27 days ago

Just made this. Very good and not like the overly sweet commercial varieties. I did forget to put the sugar in when cooking but I did add Anise seed and used whole milk. I wonder if Blackstrap Molasses would be a good sweetener?

Ninchen (author)  kfrill27 days ago
Thank you! Never tried to use Blackstrap Molasses; but sounds quite delicious. I think I'll give it a try myself ;-)
Very good! Tastes straight out the stall.
ckpanizales5 months ago
How much water?
Ninchen (author)  ckpanizales5 months ago

When I use UHT milk with 1.5% fat, I do not use any water at all. In India, I learned to use 2/3 milk with 6-8% fat and 1/3 water; but here in Germany I do not easily get milk with such a high content of fat.

AuralVirus7 months ago

Spot on chai - can't go wrong with this recipe.

Although I'm surprised there's no black peppercorns (for your measurements) 10 or so would be the norm (often used for cooler times or for ayurvedic heat or of course if you like the flavour.)

May I suggest you add a splosh (its bigger than a splash :) ) of single cream to emulate the high cream content milk used, oh and can I suggest you use unrefined sugar :P (white sugar yuk yuk, poison).

Although I was told honey is often used, unrefined sugar was preferred by the families I/we met. I can only assume white sugar is more convenient for many wallers and cafes.

Anyway the additions are about as close as I can get to what I (fell in love with) drank gallons of whilst living in nepal/india.

Occasionally I drank tea that included star anise. I found a single star anise & 2 bay leaves per litre (about a quarter star for your measurements) add an extra something if you like that element.

I'm drinking 1 now but have run out of cinnamon quills, it tastes all wrong :/ so I'm logging into amazon. I found a wholesalers called Jalpur who are far cheaper than my local supermarkets (nothing super about them) :D

Ninchen (author)  AuralVirus7 months ago
Thanks a lot for your comments.

The recipe comes dirctly from the host of our B+B in Manali, who was a great cook. He had his own philosophy about cooking, like never combining bread with rice, etc. Maybe this is the reason why he did not use any pepper in the chai and even rinsed the very creamy milk with water. But - as youwrite - many chais you get in India are made with much creamiger milk & pepper.

I never tried ro make the chai with honey; nor did use bay leaves yet. But it sounds delicious and I will try it right away.

However, I completely agree to using unrefined sugar!