Homemade Masala Chai (Chai Tea)

Homemade Masala Chai (Chai Tea)

The Spruce / Tara Omidvar

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 20 mins
Servings: 4 servings

Chai (rhymes with "pie") is the word for tea in many parts of the world. Masala chai, meaning "mixed-spice tea," originated in India, and is made with milk, black tea, and spices. It has become increasingly popular at coffee houses and is most often made from powders, syrups, and teabags.

Pre-made chai, however, can never compare to freshly brewed masala chai (also known as “chai tea”). Making it from scratch takes more time, but is infinitely more rewarding. This recipe is a basic, traditionally-based version of masala chai including cloves, cardamom, peppercorns, cinnamon, and ginger. Freshly grated ginger is preferred and there is a lot of difference in terms of flavor between the whole spices and their pre-ground versions. But you can make those substitutions if needed and it will still taste good.

If you have difficulty finding some of these spices at your grocery store, look for an Indian specialty grocery or an international food store. You can probably find some of them online, too. Masala chai is a comforting and warming drink with one-third the caffeine as coffee. It is perfect for an after-dinner or before-bed beverage.


  • 2 cups milk, or milk substitute

  • 2 cups water

  • 4 whole cloves

  • 2 pods green cardamom, crushed

  • 2 peppercorns, crushed

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 1 1/2-inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped or grated

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • 2 tablespoonsblack tea leaves (preferably ​Assam tea)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Homemade Masala Chai (Chai Tea) ingredients

    The Spruce / Tara Omidvar

  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, water, and spices. Simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    combine the milk, water, and spices in a saucepan

    The Spruce / Tara Omidvar

  3. Add the sugar and tea leaves. Stir, and then simmer for 5 minutes.

    Add the sugar and tea leaves to the mixture in the saucepan

    The Spruce / Tara Omidvar

  4. Strain into glasses or mugs and serve.

    Homemade Masala Chai (Chai Tea) strained

    The Spruce / Tara Omidvar

Recipe Variations

  • Once you have made masala chai this way, feel free to experiment with blending the many other spices out there into your brew. There is no set recipe, and versions vary from Indian household to household.
  • While whole milk is typically used in India, you can certainly substitute skim milk or a milk alternative such as soy milk, almond milk, oat milk, rice milk, or even coconut milk (the kind you buy in the cans is the most luxurious).
  • Other spices you can use include coriander, fennel seeds, lemongrass, star anise, allspice, tamarind, vanilla, and nutmeg.
  • Feel free, too, to use more of one ingredient and less of another, in this basic recipe, as you find your personal favorite combination.
  • Chai is also delicious with a little bit of sugar, honey, or even maple syrup, if you'd like to sweeten it.