I call it Very Good Homemade Masala Chai, but to tell you the truth, every person has their own flavour preferences when it comes to the perfect cup of tea. Masala or otherwise.
Here’s my favourite homemade Chai Masala blend. As the title suggests, I think it’s very good.
8 tips for the perfect cup of homemade chai
1. Balance your spices
This homemade Masala Chai recipe delivers aromatic flavours as well as a warming whack of dried ginger and peppercorns.
When cool, aromatic spices and warming spices work in tandem, beautiful things happen.
For me, it’s the spiciness of the ginger and peppercorns, offset by cooling cardamom that takes a standard cuppa chai to the next level.
2. Pick decent quality tea
Use good-quality black tea. It doesn’t have to be super premium, just strong and with great flavour (a flavour you like!). Assam and Darjeeling are both good options.
Tea bags or loose leaf tea for chai? Loose leaf tea is traditional but tea bags make for easier clean up. Choose what works for you.
I live in the UK and my preference is to use Yorkshire Tea Leaf Tea. It’s what I’ve always had and I’m used to it. The flavour is suitably strong and it makes for a great cup of chai.
3. Boil it in a pan, on the stove
No teapots or cups for brewing. To make proper Masala Chai, you need a saucepan and a good 15 minutes or so. It’s a no shortcut zone.
4. Steep the tea
Brew your tea for 2-3 minutes. I like to give it a hard boil to extract as much tea flavour as possible.
5. Add milk and boil the chai properly
I cannot emphasise this step enough. Boil the tea with the milk in the pan, for at least 10 minutes. The spices and tea need time to infuse and the milk needs to reduce so its’ raw ‘dairy’ flavour condenses and cooks out. This is crucial.
Those coffee chains that sell “chai tea latte” with frothed milk are charging you too much for something that isn’t chai.
6. Stir often
To stop anything burning at the base of the pan.
7. Skim and strain
Skim off any skin (malai) that forms on the surface of the chai. It’s totally fine to consume but makes pouring rather difficult. Malai is less likely to form with plant-based milks.
Pour through a tea strainer into a cup or mug.
8. Don’t forget the biscuits
This is extremely important.
How to make vegan chai or chai with oat milk
Switch dairy milk for your usual non-milk milk. Almond milk, oat milk and rice milk make excellent chai. You can also use soy milk or cashew milk.
I do not recommend using coconut milk in chai (unless you really love coconut milk). It will completely change the flavour.
Pay attention to whether your dairy-free milk is sweetened or unsweetened so you know whether to add sugar or not.
I like to boil my vegan chai with oat milk for longer to make sure it’s really well infused and slightly condensed.
Sweeten to taste
Use any sugar or sweetener of your choice. I recommend something neutral tasting but go with your preference.
Personally, I don’t sweeten my chai at all but for family and guests, I only ever serve use white sugar, light brown sugar or agave.
Some people like to add artificial sweeteners which are usually fine taste-wise (in small amounts).
I do not recommend using maple syrup in chai (unless you really love maple syrup). It will completely change the flavour.
Popular varieties of Masala Chai
Literally “half a cup” of chai. Cutting translates as a half serving or shot of tea. It’s just enough to give you a refreshing pick-me-up. The tea is usually rocket-fuel strong (karak chai or kadak chai).
To make Cutting chai: Half the recipe below and serve the chai in small glass cups. Leave some room at the top of the cup so it’s not too hot to hold.
Adrak chai or ginger tea is a zippy, fresh cup with the addition of fresh ginger.
To make ginger chai: Add 3-4 sliced rounds of fresh ginger along with the black tea in the recipe below and boil.
Chai with Tulsi or holy basil provides a soothing, peppery hit of flavour. It’s herbal and and very delicious.
To make Tulsi chai: Add 5-6 tulsi (holy basil) leaves along with the black tea in the recipe below and boil.
As with ginger chai, lemongrass chai provides a refreshing change from everyday masala chai. The grassy, citrus aromas are a delicious addition.
To make Lemongrass chai: Add one lightly-bruised stalk of lemongrass along with the black tea in the recipe below and boil.
How to make Chai Masala
My recipe for chai masala calls for dried ginger, cardamom, black peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves, dried rose petals, mace and nutmeg.
Every recipe for chai is truly unique. Many call for other spices and some don’t include the ones I use in my blend. Some other common additions in masala chai recipes are star anise, fennel seeds and white peppercorns.
Watch how to make Masala Chai
Do I need to toast spices for Chai Masala?
No. There’s no need to toast the spices prior to grinding when making chai masala. The heat of the blade when grinding will do the hard work.
Simply throw your spices into a high-powered spice grinder or coffee grinder, blitz and store in an airtight container.
How long can I store Chai Masala?
This recipe for Chai Masala will keep well for around 6 months. It’s a relatively small batch so you can always have fresh Chai Masala to hand.
Can I use this Chai Masala to make Masala Coffee?
Absolutely, yes. I often do and it turns out delicious every time.
How to make Masala Coffee: Instead of adding the black tea leaves, add 3-4 teaspoons of instant coffee depending on how strong you like your Masala Coffee and then continue as directed in the recipe.
My essentials for Very Good Homemade Masala Chai
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Very Good Homemade Masala Chai recipe
- Spice grinder or coffee grinder
- Saucepan or milk pan
- Tea strainer
For the chai masala (150g)
- 50 g ground ginger
- 50 g green cardamom
- 30 g black peppercorns
- 15 g ground cinnamon
- 10 g rose petals
- 8 g cloves
- 4 g mace 2 blades
- 2 g nutmeg 1/2 or 1 very small kernel
For two cups of masala chai
- 400 ml water
- 400 ml milk
- 3 tsp 10g strong black tea leaves (or 3 teabags)
- 1 1/4 tsp chai masala (recipe included in this card)
- Sugar or sweetener to taste
To make the homemade chai masala
- Add all of the spices, including the one that are already ground to the jar of a spice grinder or coffee grinder. Grind to a fine powder. Stop halfway to stir the spices and make sure everything is properly ground.
- Sift the chai masala into a bowl to ensure there are no longer any large spice fragments left in there.
- Pack the chai masala into a clean, dry airtight container. It will keep well for around 6 months. After this, it will begin to lose some of its' flavour and aroma.
To make two cups of masala chai
- Bring the water to the boil in a saucepan, milk pan or chai pan. Add the tea leaves or tea bags as well as the chai masala. Continue to boil for about 2 minutes.
- Add the milk of your choice and stir well. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring often. Once the chai begins to foam up, you can turn the heat down a little but continue to boil it quite vigorously for about 10 minutes. Note: Do not leave the chai unattended as it boils. It has a tendency to froth up and overflow. Cleaning it up isn't so fun.
- Once the chai has boiled for 10 minutes, remove it from the heat and strain into cups. Serve hot with your favourite biscuits or savoury snacks.
- This recipe makes approximately 150g chai masala.
- If you don’t want to make your own chai masala, feel free to use your favourite shop-bought one.
- To customise this chai and make a ginger, tulsi, lemongrass, etc variety, see my suggestions in the post above.
- Store your chai masala in a cool, dark place. After 6 months, it will begin to lose some flavour and aroma.
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