Making Your Own Chai

A handsome Chai seller in India
A handsome Chai seller in India

"Chai" means "tea" in Hindii. For many cultures and countries, including India and Iran, Chai is the usual taste of tea when tea is mentioned. In England and America, chai is known as a kind of black tea, based on the Indian masala chai, which is also called Indian Spiced Tea. This is to differentiate it from the kind of tea Westerners are used to. So, when I refer to chai tea, I am aware that I am, in effect, saying "tea tea".

Chai is as prominent in India as coffee is in Seattle. There are chai venders seemingly everywhere. Indian chai usually is based on using a lot of hot milk rather than boiled water, but some palettes (like mine) find the mostly milky chai too sickly sweet.

Variety is truly the spice of life, and spiced Indian teas are no exception. There is no one official way to make Chai as there is no one official way to make an apple pie. You are free to modify this simple recipe.

Chai For One Mug

I'm usually the only one who wants chai, so it's easier for me to make it one mug at a time. This also saves me from washing any extra pans. It's all done in your tea mug.

Right. Get your favorite tea mug. Fill it with:

  • One quarter of milk (any fat percentage)
  • One black tea bag
  • A generous pinch of cinnamon
  • A generous pinch of nutmeg
  • Four or five cardamom seeds or generous pinch or ground cardamom
  • The tiniest bit of ginger, unless you like your hot tea to be spicy hot as well
  • (Optional) a star anise pod
  • Whatever sweetener suits your fancy

Put the kettle on as usual and when the water comes to a boil, fill the remaining three-quarters of your mug. Let the whole concoction brew for about five minutes. Remove the tea bag. If you want, remove the spices. I can't be bothered and just keep the spices in. Give it a really good stir and enjoy.

I've also had a decent cuppa chai by making "normal" black tea or Assam black tea as usual and adding a generous pinch of ground allspice.


You get chai and a show in India. Film by dharmadays

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