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Indian Masala Chai or popularly known as Chai Tea is an energising,  refreshing milky tea made with spices and fresh ginger. This recipe shows you how to make an authentic masala chai at home with ease. 

Indian Masala Chai A Flavour That Binds The Nation

There is no Indian street that runs longer than 2 kms without a quaint, shanty looking ‘Chai Stall’ somewhere!!

It is one of those beverages that Indians just can’t do without, regardless of any socio-economic status!!

Indian Masala chai is a flavour that binds the entire nation together.

A sweet milky spice tea brewed on low flame till the smell of milk & tea leaves infused with spices fills the air, before being poured into small shot glasses.

OOh, the joy of wrapping your hands around the hot cup or glass (if at the stall) and sniffing through the exotic smell is an emotionally engulfing experience in itself without even taking the first sip.

A Typical Indian Street Side Tea Stall

Is Masala Chai Same As Chai Latte and Chai Tea?

My first experience of coming across the term ‘Chai Tea’ was looking at the Starbucks menu board and staring at something that was both intriguing and amusing.

It read ‘Chai Tea Latte’, which interestingly use 3 languages to describe a cup of Tea. ‘Chai’ is a Hindi (Indian language) word meaning ‘Tea’, ‘Tea’ as we all know is an English word, while ‘Latte’ is Italian for milk.

So the literal translation of ‘Chai Tea Latte’ is ‘Tea Tea Milk’!

Chai Latte

That was enough to put me off trying something that perhaps even the makers did not know what it really was!

So to answer the question, Masala Chai Tea translates to Spicy Tea which originates from the Indian Subcontinent.

My curiosity took better of me and I did try ‘Chai Tea Latte’.

If I am to be honest, I was disappointed with the watered-down, flavour lacking light brown milk in a large tall glass!!

It did not taste anything like an Indian spice tea would.

So needless to say I stuck with making my own at home.

But one has to acknowledge the global reach and commercial acclaim a humble cup of regional tea has gained!

Benefits of Drinking Indian Masala Chai Latte

I do not have a scientific theory to back the understated benefits of drinking Masala chai, but I speak from personal experience of years of drinking Masala chai especially when I feel a cold coming or need a boost to slacking energy.

I am not a very winter or Autumn kinda person. It makes me lazy and lethargic.

Given a choice, I would simply love a duvet day with only a hot cuppa spicy masala chai and buttered toast for company !!

You will find many websites stating the benefits of drinking Masala Chai but the once written here are those I  have personally felt. In a nutshell, I can put down 5 benefits of drinking masala chai:

1. Anti inflammatory:

Most spices used to make masala chai not only have their individual health benefits but they work in synergy to help your body combat inflammation. The main Anti-inflammatory ingredients being ginger and cloves which also help in reducing pain. ( remember how clove oil helps reduce toothache?)

2. Beats fatigue:

We all know that tea contains caffeine which is a stimulant, and what we reach for when we need to energise a tired mind and body.  The tannins present in tea help calm the body and revitalize it.

Adding uplifting spices such as green cardamoms and cinnamon to a stimulant like caffeine acts as the best way to drive away fatigue.

3. Fights cold and flu:

Most spices especially those used in making chai tea are believed to strengthen the immune system and keep common infections at bay.

The immunity-boosting and body warming effects of clove, cinnamon, green cardamom, and ginger make masala chai a great way to keep coughs and colds at bay.

4. Relieves PMS:

When it comes to that time of the month and you need something to fight the annoying PMS, tea is your go-to buddy.

The painkiller spices such as clove, cardamom, and cinnamon help deal with period pains by relaxing the muscles and keep your nerves calm.

5. Boosts metabolism:

The caffeine present in tea leaves promotes lipolysis that is the process of breaking down stored fat and stimulates cycles that metabolize fats.  According to Ayurveda Tea leaves are known as a heat-generating substance and therefore helps speed up your metabolism.

So pick up a cup of this hot delectable medicinal drink to keep those extra inches off but do remember to stay clear from sugar!

Masala Chai Tea Ingredients List and Variations

Like most Indian dishes there is no set recipe for making masala chai.

Few household use as many as 8 – 9 different spices, while few such as me like to keep spices to a minimum.

I personally like to get the subtle taste of spice rather than having a hot spicy milky curry in a cup!

There are different spices that go into a making Masala Chai. I have listed the most commonly used chai spices below.

You can start making your own recipe by choosing 2 to 3 different spices at a time or more if you prefer and finally get to your most favourite chai spice mix.

It is good to know that one thing constant in most chai recipes is the use of fresh ginger, green cardamom, and milk. You can choose to add any of the spices listed below in addition:

  • Basil leaves
  • Bay leaves
  • Black Cardamon
  • Cloves
  • Cinnamon
  • Green Cardamom
  • Fennel seeds
  • Ginger powder
  • Mint leaves
  • Peppercorn
  • Star anise

Sharing with you a Masala chai recipe I found on the internet also known as Yogi Ayurvedic Tea.  

Most of the spices listed above are winter warming spices that build your immunity and help keep cold and cough at bay.  

Indian masala chai recipe

Cooking Notes And Tips for Making Authentic Indian Masala Chai

The method of making Masala chai is similar however one can easily alter the proportion, spices, sugar type and boiling time as per your own liking.

Spicy masala chai originates from Northern India, where they like to make their tea spicy, sweet and very milky.

But this recipe can be easily adapted to suit your personal preference.

Here are few tips and alternatives for you to make your cup of Indian spice tea:

Use of Spices:

  1. Choose from any of the spices listed above. Gently crush or break the spices in a mortal and pestle to release the oils before adding to boiling water.
  2. Spice proportion to use for making one cup of tea – Use only 1 of each spice for making 1 cup of tea.  1/2 inch or less of cinnamon stick and ginger. Half teaspoon for whole seeds spices or powdered spices.

Water and Milk ratio:

  1. Always add more than 1 cup of water for making one cup of tea since the spices need time to boil in water.
  2. If you like your tea milky then use 1 cup of water and 1/2 cup milk and boil till it reduces to 1 cup
  3. For a lighter less milky version – add 1/4 cup milk at the end and let it warm up in boiling water before pouring out.

Sugar substitutes

  1. Indian Masala Chai is normally sweet but you can choose to have it without sugar.
  2. A healthy substitute for sugar are Palm sugar, jaggery and honey.

Best Tea Leaves for Making Indian Spice Tea

  1. The Indian spice tea is made using loose black tea leaves. You can buy them from any Indian store if you have access to one.
  2. Any black tea bags such as English breakfast, Yorkshire tea, Lipton Yellow label also work well.

How to Make Indian Chai Latte at Home

Now that you have the tips and different ways of making Masala Chai.

Here is my personal favourite recipe for an energy-boosting, comforting cuppa Masala Chai (Tea).

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Black Tea Leaves - 4 tsp
Water - 4 1/2 cup
Milk - 1/2 cup
Ginger - 1 inch
Green Cardamon - 3 pods
Fennel seeds - 2 tsps
Mint leaves - 5
Palm sugar - 2 tsp (optional)
*Ingredients Needed


Prepare the Masala Chai Spice Mix
In a mortal and pestle lightly crush the ginger, green cardamons and fennel seeds and set aside.
Boil Tea
Put 4 1/2 cups water in a deep bottomed pan.
Just before the water starts to boil add tea leaves and the spices to it.
When it come to a full boil add the mint leaves and bring it to simmer for about 5 minutes.
Add milk and continue to boil for another 1 - 2 minutes.
Add some extra milk in small portions if you think the colour is too dark.
Add sugar and stir it in well.
Remove from heat, strain tea through a strainer and serve hot.