Masala Chai - Indian Spice Tea (authentic Recipe From the Himalayas)





Introduction: 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.

Step 1: 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

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

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

Strain the tea into the glasses & enjoy.



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    17 Discussions

    Thanks, I never thaught about that; but I definitely will try next time I make this tea. (However, in Himachal Pradesh they taught me to add the milk right from the beginning.)

    Although many recipes say to heat the spices with water only, this way, heating in milk makes more sense. Many of the fragrant, flavorful components in the spices are oils, thus not water soluble. Heating in milk, especially one with a higher fat content, will coax out more flavour.

    And I only keep sugar for last because my parents have diabetes so I strain their tea and then add sugar to the remaining tea for myself, and in their cups I add Equal (sugar-free) :)

    Ninchen, both ways are correct. Some people do add milk last, but It's good to add milk right at the beginning because then you can see the end result and colour and switch off the flame when u get the desired colour and flavour. When u don't put milk right at the beginning, u need exact measurements and can't improvise much as u get confused because u have not added the main ingredient yet and so the entire duration it's a mystery what it's going to look like once u add the milk. There is no difference in taste either ways, so go for whichever is comfortable to u :)

    This is a very nice and popular recipe in India. Good job! :)

    There are so many "quick" chai recipes, I am happy to find an authentic recipe as I drink tea by the gallon and not from mixes. Turbinado sugar is a good raw sugar, as is coconut palm sugar, or demerara. I did find a source that said many in (rural)India use a kind of sugar usually in bricks, called jaggery(or gur, gud or panela), which is a raw brown sugar with a very rich molasses taste. The chai recipes can vary quite a bit from region to region it seems, so I don't think any spice you throw in is wrong as long as you enjoy the taste. I like to put in whatever I have around for complexity, and turmeric is good if you're fighting a cold.

    I made it and turned out great! Like the other commentators below, I
    definitely recommend adding black peppercorns to the recipe if you are
    looking for a spicier chai.

    1 reply

    hey bloom,

    did you use whole peppercorns?

    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 :)

    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?

    1 reply

    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.

    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.

    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

    1 reply

    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!