Masala chai or masala tea is India’s most popular drink and is loved by everyone. Imagine the flavors of brewing sweet, spicy, hot and aromatic spices with sugar, milk and tea… amazing right? This masala chai is just that – amazingly flavorsome, delicious and totally relaxing. A hot cup of masala chai is an amazing way to soothe your senses and refresh your mind. This post shares the method to make a perfect cup of masala chai at home!!
A lot of Indians love to sip their masala chai all-round the year along with their breakfast and evening snack. Some limit it to monsoons & cold winters because it keeps the body warm and helps break up the blocked sinus.
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Many different kinds of tea are made across the world and each one has its own properties so they have different health benefits.
About masala chai
Masala chai is an Indian beverage made by brewing black tea with spices, sugar and milk. In Hindi the word “Masala” means “spices” and “chai” means “Tea”. So masala chai is milk tea brewed with aromatic spices. There are also versions where aromatic herbs like mint (pudina) and Tulsi (holy basil) are added to it.
Every Indian family may have their own recipe to make masala tea. The combination of spices, the quantity of milk, water and the kind of tea to use – is a personal choice & this is what decides the strength, flavour and taste of your masala chai.
In this post I share the way I make at home & it closely matches the flavors of masala chai available in good Standard Indian restaurants. It can be made in so many flavors all to suit your liking. So you can also easily customize this recipe to your taste.
There are 2 basic ways a masala chai is made. I have shared both the ways here in this post. The first method is to make it instantly with just 3 to 4 basic spices. They are crushed and then simmered with tea & water. Later you just add milk and simmer further. We don’t need any other tea masala for this.
The second one is great if you wish to enjoy masala chai regularly or often. To make this, whole spices are ground in a spice grinder and stored. Making your cup of masala chai is super easy with this, add it to your everyday milk tea and simmer for some time so flavors of masala are infused.
How to choose your tea
Traditionally masala chai is made with loose tea leaves but now most people use processed black tea which is in granular or powder form. There are basically 2 different kinds of processed tea in the market – CTC and Tea dust.
CTC tea is produced by processing tea leaves through cylindrical rollers to Crush, Tear and Curl them, the resulting processed tea is in a granular or pellet form. This CTC tea imparts bolder and robost flavors to your masala chai along with a deep brown color.
Tea dust is another kind of processed tea which is finer and is almost in powder form. Apart from these you can also make masala tea with black tea bags.
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In India tea is grown largely in 3 regions and each is named after the region – Assam tea, Darjeeling tea and Nilgiri tea. Each of these have a different flavour, strength and taste due to the soil, weather and region.
In South India, Nilgiri tea is more commonly used and everywhere else it is the Assam tea that is more popular. Again it is a personal choice and you need to try out a few until you find something that you really love.
Assam tea is loved for its deep color and strong flavour. If you love strong tea known as kadak chai, this may be the one for you. Darjeeling tea is well known for fruity flavour. Nilgiri tea has a fruity flavour of the Darjeeling tea and strong bold flavors like Assam tea.
Nilgiri tea won’t leave any astringent taste even if it is brewed for longer as they contain very little tannins. So it is suitable to those who like to make strong chai by simmering the tea with spices and milk for longer.
In a lot of places in South India, you will find tea being simmered for too long to get that full-bodied strong tea. It tastes really so good with just a little amount of milk in it. So if you prefer simmering your tea for longer then go with Nilgiri.
If you don’t live in India, then use any strong black tea you like.
Choosing other ingredients
Spices – The basic and most common spices used in masala tea are green cardamoms, cloves and cinnamon. The other optional spices are black pepper, ginger, fennel seeds, nutmeg and star anise. Each spice has its own health benefits. To know more scroll down to read my pro tips section.
Milk – The quantity of milk to add depends on your personal taste and the kind of milk used. Too much milk in your tea can completely alter the taste of your tea and can cause acidity. Masala chai with too little milk will also not taste good and will be watery. An ideal ratio of water to milk is 3:1. For every ¾ cup water you can add ¼ cup full fat milk.
Sweetener – Traditionally unrefined sweetener known as jaggery is used. It is a personal choice and we love ours with cane sugar. You can also have it with any other sweetener of your choice. If using jaggery, coconut sugar or palm jaggery add them once you turn off the heat.
Preparation – Method 1
1. To make this firstly, whole spices (masala) are ground in a small mortar pestle or spice grinder. To make instant masala chai, powder
- 2 to 3 cloves
- ½ to ¾ cinnamon
- 4 green cardamoms.
2. Crush them fine or slightly coarse to bring out the flavors.
How to make masala chai
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3. Pour 2 cups water to a pot. Add tea powder or tea leaves. I used 1 teaspoon powder here. You can use more or less depending on the kind of tea you are using. Or You can also use 3 to 4 tea bags. Simmer the black tea first. Chai made on a low flame tastes best.
4. Allow to boil for a few minutes until the tea decoction turns dark.
5. Add the masala chai powder and ginger (optional).
6. Also add sugar at this stage. I use 3 to 4 teaspoons. You can use as little or as much as you prefer.
7. Pour milk to the simmering black tea. Adjust the quantity of milk as needed.
8. Boil on a low to medium heat until the tea turns dark. Simmering helps the tea to thicken. I usually simmer until it reduces to 1 ¾ cup. Fresh holy basil (tulsi) or mint leaves can also be used for variations. You can taste test and add more milk if you prefer. But simmer again for a little longer so the tea doesn’t have the milk flavor.
9. Filter masala chai tea to serving cups.
1. This is the second method. If you drink masala tea regularly, then you can make the masala chai powder in little larger quantity and store it in a glass jar. For quantities refer the recipe card below.
2. This will give you about 3 tsps powder.
3. To make masala tea, fresh ginger, tea powder or tea leaves, and ground spices are simmered in water to infuse the flavors. You can use the same quantities of water and milk mentioned in the recipe card.
Serve masala chai hot or warm.
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