Chai tea is perfect for warming yourself up after a cold, wet cycle ride or a winter walk on the beach. Yet chai is not one particular type of tea, but rather a combination of invigorating spices that can be tailored to your personal taste.
Interestingly, the word for tea in India (and Russia) is chai. Whether it’s straight black tea or a herbal mix, it’s all called chai. What we in North America call chai is actually a masala chai. Masala is the word for spices.
So exactly what goes into masala chai? Well… it can include any number of spices. In fact, my favorite reason to make my own chai tea is that I can use whatever I happen to have in my cupboard! It can be brewed strong or mild, sweet or spicy. Whatever happens to be the right mix for our mood.
Masala Chai Mix
Here is a list of spices that are commonly used for making masala chai tea:
- Green cardamon
- Star anise
- Black pepper
- Allspice berries
- Bay leaves
So, how do you know how much to use and what combination to use? Well, that’s where things get personal. Here are a few different mixes that you can try… or make your own!
These recipes are all based on my 6-cup teapot.
Emillie’s Book Club Chai
I like to brew a pot of chai tea for my book club. Then everyone can add milk and honey to suit their tastes. Simply mix the ingredients in a looseleaf tea brewer and steep for 15 minutes.
- 2 tsp of black tea (or 2 tea bags)
- 2 star anise (whole)
- 1 cinnamon stick (about 2-inches long)
- 2 allspice berries
- 6 whole cloves
- 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, sliced into four lengthwise
- 1/2 vanilla bean, sliced lengthwise
Brad’s Spicy Chai
This hot and spicy chai tea is invigorating. Perfect for getting a little fire in your body on a cold, wet day. This chai follows a more traditional recipe and is brewed on the stove.
Start by bringing the water, sugar, and spices to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes. Then remove from the heat, add the tea and allow to steep for 5 minutes. Mix in the milk and serve!
- 6 cups of water
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar or panela
- 8 black peppercorns
- 12 whole cloves
- 2-inch piece of ginger (sliced into 4 lengthwise)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tsp fennel seed
- 6 cardamom pods (lightly crushed)
- 4 tsp of black tea or 4 tea bags
- 2 cups of milk
Max’s Sweet Chai
We don’t really use a lot of sugar in our household, so something we find sweet is probably not sweet enough for others. All of the sweetness in Max’s favorite chai comes from candied ginger. However, I’ve included an option for adding sugar to the pot for a more traditional sweet tea.
To make this milky brewed chai, mix all the spices with the water and milk in a saucepan. Gently bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
- 4 cups of water
- 2 cups of milk
- 2 tsp rooibos tea (or 2 tea bags)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 8 green cardamom pods, slightly crushed
- 1/8 tsp of nutmeg
- 4 pieces of candied ginger (about 2 Tbsp)
- Brown sugar (optional, about 3 Tbsp)
Una’s Apple Chai
There are several parks in our community with heritage apple trees. And harvesting heirloom apples is a particular favorite of Una’s. Since they weren’t bred for long-term storage, we turn most of them into apple sauce and dried apples. While dried apples do make a yummy snack, they are also perfect for Una’s favorite apple chai.
Like my book club chai, we just put the apples directly into the teapot. Then put the rest of the spices into a loose leaf tea brewer. The milk is added directly to the cup.
- 5 slices of dried apple (about 2 tbsp)
- 2 tsp of rooibos tea (or 2 tea bags)
- 1 stick of cinnamon (2-inches long)
- 1/4 tsp of powdered ginger