Masala Chai is just the most perfect start to a cold winter morning! And with this spice mix, and my step by step recipe, you’ll be able to make the most perfect cup of spicy, warm, sweet, milky Masala Chai!
How to make authentic homemade Masala Chai with a homemade masala mix (spice mix).
This is an authentic masala chai recipe, which I’ve been making for years and have tweaked to my own liking. Tea is near and dear to me, having grown up in Sri Lanka (of Ceylon tea fame). But this authentic masala chai recipe was introduced to me by an Indian friend in college.
Just as a side note though, masala chai translates to spiced tea. Masala, meaning spiced, and Chai, meaning tea. So chai tea – which I seemingly invariably overhear someone ordering, every time I’m in a coffee shop – literally translates to “tea tea”. 😀
Living through the typical frigid Canadian winter these days (-26 C outside as I write this), there’s nothing more that I love than to start my day with a warm, spicy, milky cup of masala chai in the morning. You know, just a few minutes of delicious tranquility before I turn on the TV and see what’s happening in the news.
This spice mix for masala chai is incredible! It’s authentic, and also very versatile.
Spices used for Masala Chai
- Green cardamom – Absolutely required for my masala chai.
- Cinnamon – Cinnamon is always around in our house, so I always add this to my masala chai.
- Ginger – I usually use fresh, sliced ginger in my tea, but for this spice mix I use powdered ginger.
- Black peppercorns – Optional, but adds a lovely spiciness.
- Cloves – Optional. I don’t like a lot of cloves usually because it overwhelms the other flavors. But at the right level, it perfectly complements the other spices.
- Fennel – Optional. It’s subtle, but this spice adds a wonderful flavor as well.
- Nutmeg – Optional. Nutmeg always has that sneaky ability to add delightful flavor without standing out too much.
The beauty of masala chai is that you don’t need all of these spices to make a damn fine cup of spiced tea. BUT, all these spices together, will guarantee you an exceptional cup of masala chai!
This spice mix is so good, I’ve been adding it to so many other recipes too.
Choosing the right tea for the perfect cup of masala chai
Traditionally, chai is made with black tea. So a good quality black tea will give you the best results.
My preferred types of tea to make chai masala is,
- Ceylon tea (preferably Orange Pekoe)
- Assam tea
Both these teas work very well, so you can use either (or both) to make masala chai. I always have both types of loose tea at home, because they are such great teas to drink with milk and sugar.
However, if you don’t have access to good quality loose black tea, you can use tea bags in a pinch too. You can also use English breakfast tea, which is usually a blend of black teas.
Making masala mix for chai
Just like with any other spice mix, you start with dry roasting the spices.
All the spices I use are whole spices (except for the ginger). The whole spices are placed on a dry pan, and toasted over medium heat until fragrant.
Then they are ground until you have a fine spice mix. I use a small spice grinder, and blend the spices in batches. Then mix in the ground ginger and mix all the spices until well combined.
Can I use ground spices?
If you only have access to ground spices, then you can still make the masala mix by weighing out the ground spices and mixing them together.
What if I prefer to use fresh ginger instead of ground ginger?
You can leave out the ground ginger. And instead, use fresh ginger when you’re making the tea. Simply slice the ginger and add it to the tea when you’re making it.
How to make spiced tea
Once you’ve got the masala mix ready, this spiced tea is very easy to make.
An important thing to remember about making authentic masala chai is that you want to have a very strong tea base to stand up to the milk and spices. So unlike regular tea drinks, the tea is steeped or boiled for longer in the water, and boiled further WITH the milk as well.
This is different from making regular tea drinks where the leaves are only steeped for a maximum of 3 – 5 minutes.
Water, loose tea, and some of the spice mix are boiled together until you have a robust tea flavor in the base.
A note on the tea
If you’re using tea bags, I recommend adding an extra tea bag because the tea bags don’t have as much flavor as loose tea.
Next, milk is added, and the drink is boiled for a further minute.
You can add any type of sweetner, from sugar to honey or even a sugar replacement. You can also add as much or as little as you like. Usually Masala chai is sweet, but we prefer it with less sugar.
Strain, and then if you prefer, you can froth the chai using a frothing stick, OR take the traditional route and pour the tea from one jug to another.
This pouring from one container to another achieves two things,
- Cools down the masala chai to a temperature where you can enjoy it immediately,
- Adds air to the drink, making it frothy and airy.
Then serve immediately.
Can I make this in advance?
I understand the need to cut down on time from your morning routine, especially on busy week days.
When I make this ahead of time, I prefer to boil the water, spices, and tea together. Dissolve the sugar in the mix and strain the tea mixture. This tea mixture can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days. I just mix the tea with milk at a 2 : 1 ratio and heat it in a saucepan or microwave.
But more often than not, I make this in advance because I want to drink a glass of ice cold masala chai. Just mix, stir, and drink! And if I’m feeling especially generous, I’ll even add some whipped cream on top…
Vegan masala chai
For a vegan version, you only have to use a plant based milk instead of regular milk. If you’re looking to froth your drink, you’d have to make sure that the milk that you’re using is a barista quality plant based milk.
Why I love this recipe
This is an incredibly refreshing drink. The perfect warming drink for winter, but just as satisfying any other time of the year!
Some days, when I don’t have the spice mix ready to go, I make my masala chai only using cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger. This is still delicious, but it’s hard to beat an authentic masala chai with the full spectrum of spices.
The masala mix here is complex, a little spicy, and very satisfying. This recipe makes a HUGE amount of this mix, so you can add this spice mix to other recipes too.
You can make a spiced steamer by adding some of the spice mix into this vanilla steamer recipe. Or how about making this Easter cake, with a combination of ground tea and the masala mix? I also add this spice mix to my shortbread recipe, for a delicious spiced shortbread cookie.
Because you’re making this spice mix in advance, you don’t have to worry about grinding spices in the morning. You can also make the tea base a couple of days in advance to save even more time.
If you’re a fan of spiced tea, then I guarantee this will be the most authentic Masala Chai recipe you can find anywhere!
Authentic Masala Chai Recipe
Spice mix (masala mix for the chai) – Makes about 1 ¼ cups
- 40 g green cardamom pods whole pods, ¼ + ⅛ cup
- 20 g cinnamon quills Ceylon cinnamon is best, but cassia is fine in a pinch too, about 3 quills
- 20 g whole black peppercorns 2 tbsp
- 20 g whole cloves 6 – 8 tsp
- 10 g whole fennel seeds 4 tsp
- ½ nutmeg
- 20 g ground ginger 2 tbsp
Masala chai – For 2 people
- 480 mL water 2 cups
- 15 g good quality loose leaf black tea Assam tea or black tea
- 2 tsp spice mix
- 240 mL whole milk 2% milk is fine too, 1 cup
- Honey or sugar to sweeten to taste
- Place all the spices (except for the ground ginger) in a dry non-stick pan.
- Heat over medium heat, and keep moving the spices in the pan until they are fragrant. The time will depend on the heat of your stove, and how fast it heats up.
- Remove the spices from the pan and place them in a bowl or plate.
- In batches, process the whole spices in a spice blender until completely ground.
- Place the ground spices in a large jar or bowl and add the ground ginger. Whisk until the ginger is mixed through.
- Keep the spice mix in an airtight container, preferably a glass jar.
- Place the water, tea, and spice mix in a saucepan.
- Close the lid and bring the water to a boil. When the water is at a boil, remove the lid and adjust the heat of your stove to allow the tea to simmer for about 4 – 5 minutes.
- Stir in the milk, and increase the heat to allow the tea to come to a simmer again. Let it simmer for about 1 minute.
- Strain the tea out of your spiced tea, and add sugar or honey to sweeten to your liking.
- Optional – froth the masala chai using a frothing wand.
- Serve immediately.
Tips & Tricks
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