Masala Chai – Ingredients, Preparation and 9 Recipes

This article is about how to prepare "Masala Chai" at home. Other names for the popular spiced tea are "Chai" or "Chai Latte".  

Masala Chai is the tea most frequently consumed in India. It is the unofficial national drink.

Masala means mixture, spice mixture.

Chai is the word for tea.


Typical Ingredients:

Black Tea

Especially the composition of the spices varies. The black tea can also be partially (or even completely) replaced by herbal teas such as rooibos or honeybush.

So there are plenty of variants, and the proven recipes in this article are a guide to orientation. Adapt the recipes to your personal taste.

You also have to rethink things a little bit if you have previously poured tea in a teapot, because Masala Chai is cooked in a saucepan.

Black Tea

Even if Masala Chai consists of different ingredients, black tea is still the most important. It is therefore necessary to choose a suitable tea. 

Use only black tea, which tastes good without any other ingredients. The spices are not used to improve bad tea. 

Masala Chai needs strong and full-bodied teas that can stand their ground in combination with the spices.

For this reason, Darjeeling, India's best tea, is not the first choice for Masala Chai. The First Flush has fine components that are covered by the spices. If at all, then use a stronger second flush, or even better, a blend with only a small part of Darjeeling. The same applies to the other teas from the Himalayas (Nepal, Sikkim).

Teas from Assam, Kenya or Mozambique are well suited for example.

The black tea can be partially or completely replaced by rooibos or honeybush. This means that Masala Chai can also be drunk in the evening and is suitable for children.

The Spices

A variety of spices are used in India to prepare Masala Chai. Almost every household and every Chai Wala has its own recipe.

However, there are a number of ingredients that are more or less often used for Masala Chai.

Be creative in cooking the tea, try new combinations!

Very frequently used spices:

Black Pepper

More spices:

Orange Peels
Lemon Peels
Cumin Seed
Rose Blossoms

The Milk

Milk is considered one of the best and most complete foods in Ayurveda, the ancient Indian art of healing, and cooking together with spices has a long tradition.

Milk is said to be invigorating, detoxifying, regenerating, nourishing, ...

If you cannot tolerate real milk or do not want to drink it because you are living vegan, you can use almond milk, oat milk or soya milk as a substitute.

Milk Types

Unskimmed Milk
Low-Fat Milk
UHT Milk
Condensed Milk
"Replacement Milk" (Almond Milk, Oat Milk, Soy Milk


Originally palm sugar was used, which is said to have many positive properties in Ayurveda.

Today, white sugar is mostly used.

Stevia can be tried out as a vegetable, calorie-free alternative. If you want a natural Masala Chai, chemical sweeteners should be avoided.

Honey can also be used well. Keep in mind that many vital substances are lost in the honey during cooking. Therefore it is better to use it only after the Masala Chai has cooled down.

A tip: Masala Chai tastes good even without sweetening.

Preparation and recipes

The preparation of Masala Chai is simple, but differs from the British or Chinese tea preparation. Instead of a teapot, you need a cooking pot.

Basic recipe for 1 litre of tea:

-Put the coarsely chopped spices and 0,5l cold water into a saucepot.
-Bring the water to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 - 15 minutes with the lid closed.
-Add 3 - 5 heaped teaspoons of black tea and sugar (if desired) and continue cooking for 5 minutes.
-Add 0,5l milk and bring it again to the boil.
-Then sieving into a teapot - finished!

This general recipe is the same to nearly all of the following recipes. Note that the tea is cooked, which makes it much more intense than an infusion.

Recipe 2: Elachi Chai, the Minimalist

Elachi is the Bengalese name for cardamom, which is the only spice in this recipe.
3 - 5 capsules of broken green cardamom are used as spice component, nothing else

Recipe 3: The Classic

3 Capsules Cardamom
A few pieces of cinnamon
2 cloves
2 grains of black pepper
A small piece of chopped fresh ginger, or three knife tips of dried ginger

Recipe 4: Prepare Masala Chai with a ready Mix

There are a number of balanced spice blends to simplify the preparation. Use two teaspoons full.

Recipe 5: Masala Chai with Rooibos or Honeybush

Take Spices, for example, as in recipe 2 or 3. In addition, use 1 - 2 teaspoons of rooibos or honeybush with the black tea.

You can also replace the black tea complete with rooibos or honeybush. This Masala Chai can be drunk by children and in the evening.

Recipe 6: Masala Chai at Work

Prepare the Masala Chai as you know it, but leave out the milk in the last step. Pour the concentrate into a thermos flask.

If desired, fill a large cup halfway with the strong tea, dilute with hot water and condensed milk. Masala Chai cannot be prepared faster and easier, making this recipe ideal for the workplace. Let the curious colleagues taste it.

Recipe 7: Masala Chai Zero

Take 1 litre of water at the beginning and skip adding milk and sugar -> zero calories, 100% flavor. 

Recipe 8: Masala Chai Christmas Market

Instead of milk use red wine.  

Recipe 9: Doodh Patti Chai - the Basic without Spices

Finally, the most simple way to prepare the tea: Skip adding spices and use only the black tea with sugar and milk.