What is Masala Chai?
Originating in India, Masala Chai is a delicious tea compromised of a black tea base, milk, sugar, and a blend of spices – most commonly ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, anise, and nutmeg.
In Hindi, the word Chai translates to “tea”, while the word Masala means “mix of spices”.
Because so many people throughout India make their tea with milk and sugar, the word Chai has since become synonymous with “milk tea”. Therefore, Masala Chai quite literally means “milk tea with spices”.
Tea Tip: Since the word chai means “tea”, it is redundant to say “chai tea”, since that is like saying “tea tea”.
How do you pronounce Masala Chai?
The proper way to pronounce Masala Chai is “muh-saa-luh chai”.
What do you need to make Masala Chai?
There are a variety of spices used in Masala Chai. Whole spices will give you the richest flavor experience, however, you can use ground spices if you are not able to use whole. You can pick and choose what spices you prefer for your blend, however the most commonly used spices are: cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, whole cloves, star anise, ground nutmeg, ground ginger, and black peppercorns.
How do you make Masala Chai properly?
To make the perfect cup of Masala Chai, you will want to use:
– 1.5 teaspoons of Assam tea (or 1 tea sachet/tea bag)
– 1/2 cinnamon stick (split lengthwise)
– 5 cardamom pods
– 3 to 4 whole cloves
– 1 to 2 star anise (save the second for garnish)
– 5 to 6 peppercorns
– pinch of ground nutmeg
– 1.5 cups water (this accounts for some evaporation in the boiling process)
– 1 cup milk
– 3 to 4 teaspoons sugar or maple syrup or honey (or to taste)
Step 1: Lightly crush whole spices.
If you are using whole spices, lightly crush them with a mortar and pestle. Don’t forget to add your ground spices to the mix afterward.
Step 2: Simmer spices in water for 5-10 minutes, covered.
Use cold bottled spring water or cold filtered water. (Tea Tip: Do not use distilled water – this will negatively impact the taste). You should simmer your spices in a stainless steel saucepan (or nonstick saucepan).
Step 3: Turn off heat and add tea leaves to saucepan. Steep for an additional 5-10 minutes.
It is important to steep the tea with the spice mix while the heat is turned off. Boiling the tea will make it bitter. Steep the tea for at least 5 minutes. If you prefer a stronger cup, steep it for up to 10 minutes.
Step 4: Add milk to saucepan.
You can use whole milk or your choice of other milk alternatives. See our list of dairy-free options below.
Step 5: Bring the milk, tea, and spice blend to a simmer again.
Once the blend comes to a simmer, turn the heat off.
Step 6: Add your sweetener of choice.
Step 7: Strain your chai blend and serve.
There is no correct answer to how much of each spice should be used. The perfect cup of Masala Chai is truly whatever blend and ratio of spices you enjoy most! Feel free to test different combinations to find the mix you prefer.
Can you make Iced Masala Chai?
Yes, you can make iced Masala Chai for a chilled, refreshing version of this drink. Follow the steps below.
How do you make Iced Masala Chai properly?
STEP 1: Follow steps 1-3 above, and then strain to make your Masala Chai concentrate.
STEP 2: Take the strained concentrate and chill it for at least an hour in the refrigerator or 5-10 minutes in the freezer.
STEP 3: Once chilled, pour the Chai concentrate into a glass with ice.
STEP 4: Add equal parts milk to the glass. (Feel free to use whole milk or a dairy-free alternative.)
STEP 5: Add sweeteners to taste; we find that simple syrup dissolves beautifully in this cold beverage!
Dairy-Free Alternatives to Use in Masala Chai:
If you are lactose intolerant or just want a dairy-free option to use in your chai, we have some great substitutes for you:
What does Masala Chai taste like?
Masala Chai is creamy, spicy, and sweet, with notes of the particular spices used such as ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves. It also has a cozy, warming quality to it, thanks to its traditional spice blend used.
How much caffeine is in Masala Chai?
The caffeine content in Masala Chai depends on the type of black tea used as the base. For example, if Darjeeling tea is used it will have less caffeine than if Assam tea is used.
Generally, a cup of Masala Chai will have a moderate amount of caffeine.
What are some health benefits of drinking Masala Chai?
Masala Chai has many health benefits thanks to its black tea base, and the many spices used in the blend.
Some common benefits include antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, heart health, blood sugar control, and help with nausea and digestion.
What is the best way to store Masala Chai?
You can make a bigger batch of the Masala Chai concentrate (the tea and spice mix) to store by following steps 1-3 above, straining the liquid, and then refrigerating it for up to 4 days. When you are ready to make a drink, heat up your masala chai concentrate with an equal amount of milk and sweetener to taste.
Tea Tip: while you can prepare chai concentrate to store and finish later, it seems that the final product is never as spicy and aromatic as a freshly made hot glass of Masala Chai.
It is also important to make sure your fresh tea leaves will stay fresh as long as possible. To make sure you’re not making any common mistakes, be sure to check out our post on the best practices in tea storage!