Marie said

I make my own Masala Chai from scratch

I make my own masala chai from scratch – 1 cup at a time.

Ok, I’ll admit I didn’t start out this way. I hunted high and low for a pre made tea that rivaled the nirvana I experienced at the local Indian restaurant down the road. I had never thought to comb through my indian cookbooks for clues – yet should have started there. After giving up in retail (Metropolitan tea was the closest I could find, but finding a retail distributer with minimal markup was challenging).

Here is my economic approach to the most amazing masala chai. Recipe adapted from “1000 Indian Recipes” by Neelam Batra. 2tbs black cardamom seeds, 1tbs black peppercorns, 1.5tbs ground ginger, 1tbs ground cinnamon, 1tbs ground cloves (dump all into a spice grinder and grind to mix – store in a glass jar for 1 month at room temp, or 1 year in the fridge. Best to avoid light).

I buy a $2.99 box of Trader Joe’s Irish Breakfast Tea. Then cut open all the bags and dump into a tin. The idea is that the tea has to be robust enough to carry the heavy spice mix without being buried by it. But also, it’s going to get buried somewhat so I don’t choose a fancy tea as the base.

In a pot, a 1.5 cup of water and a few splashes of your creamer (total, any more will dilute the strength of the tea), (I prefer half n half). Then dump in 1/4 teaspoon of the masala mix (no more or it will ruin the ratio – a little goes a long way). You can if desired crack a little additional pepper if you want a little more kick. Bring to a boil, and allow to boil for one minute. Then turn off heat and add two heaping teaspoons of black tea, top the lid with the pot and set the timer for 5 minutes. At 5 minutes, strain tea into a cup and add your desired sweetener to taste.

End result? Nirvana chai. Not that watered down stuff. The real deal – at least as much as I’ve experienced it. Who knows? I’ve never been to India so I can’t say that much.

My writing is a bit cheeky, but I enjoy sharing my small victories with others. Trust me. The Trader Joe’s brand of tea is super strong. You just have to double bag it to get maximum punch.

Anyone else out there make their own from scratch? Favorite recipe to share? Masala chai blends are so personal aren’t they? ;)

22 Replies
tperez said

Great topic! I’d love to see some other folk’s recipes. I make my own chai too… Its nice to be able to adjust it how you like

My recipe (and my cooking in general) tend to be more based off of “eyeballing” it then set amounts but I generally use:
About 5 cups of water
About 2tsps black tea (currently using Assam melody from Adagio, which isn’t quite as bold as I’d like it to be)
A couple of whole green cardamom pods
About six small pieces of dried ginger
About an inch of cinnamon stick (Ceylon cinnamon, which is slightly different, if I have it)
A clove
About six black pepper seeds
A tiny bit of dried red pepper with the seeds removed
All the crushed just lightly in a mortar and pestle

I sometimes add a few dried rosemary leaves (which I grow and dry myself and are MUCH more flavorful than store bought), I sometimes substitute dried papaya seeds for pepper which helps if you’re having any stomach problems, sometimes a few strands of saffron for an extra special cup :)

I boil the water in a small pot and steep everything for about 5 minutes until it starts to look dark enough, then turn the stove off, pour through a strainer into a second pot, and add whole milk until it looks nice and creamy.

Marie said

Wow! I never thought to try rosemary or saffron. I’m trying to think of how they both would alter the flavor palette. I have to measure it out, because once I tried using more than 1/4 teaspoon of my mixture and it was way to powerful for the tea, completely overshot the delicate balance. I like to heat my milk either with the tea, or along side the tea mixture because I use so much my tea ends up luke warm if I don’t.

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Aiko said

What a wonderful topic. We’re starting to come into chai-season after all.
It’s been a long time since I made my own chai, but I used to mix it up in 4oz batches for my boyfriend who prefers the spiciest (particularly, the ‘cloviest’) chai he can get. For him I used ground spices, which infuse more quickly when you’re just steeping it in hot water (they also go stale much more quickly, but that was rarely a problem). Clove (lots of it), cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and white pepper. Adagio’s Irish breakfast as a base. He raved about it, but he has the kind of palette that requires all his beverages to kick him harshly in the face. I tend to prefer a milder chai (not one that makes my mouth go numb with cloves, ideally).

When I’m making chai for myself, I prefer to use whole spices and boil the mixture on the stove to get the most out of it. Sometimes I add a dash of vanilla. I actually boil the spices for a few minutes before adding in the tea leaves, so that I can get all the spiciness without risk of oversteeping the tea (that might just be my tastes and paranoia though— I can’t stand that bitterness in oversteeped black tea). Then I add in milk, and maybe some honey or raw sugar, and strain. I don’t really fuss with specific amounts, though I guess I probably should for the sake of reproducing results.

Man, I haven’t made it in so long. I want to order some spices now to prepare for the season. But I’ll keep tabs on this thread and see what other methods people use, too.

Marie said

I agree with you about boiling the spices, something about the temperature coaxing out the oils from the spices that a steeping temperature is not able to do? Max for black tea steeping is 5 min most of the time? That’s how long I steep mine.

Not sure if you do, but if you have a nice restaurant supply store or online store to buy your spices in bulk, your money would go a lot further. I also prefer whole spices and then grind it up in batches.

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Frolic select said

I’ll share my ‘not quite authentic but tastes like it’ recipe. Its great when you want something better than chai from a bag but don’t have the time to do the whole stove top thing.

I take one tin of sweetened condensed milk add 2-3 teaspoons of garam massala and stir well. Make a strong cuppa black tea, preferably assam, and stir in a spoonful of chai concentrate mix. The chai will be sweetened from the condensed milk. Store the mix in the fridge and enjoy!

Marie said

Oh I love your method! What a really cool speedy way chai making! You might want to consider bringing you condensed milk and garam massala to a boil when you have free time (bigger batch) and storing in the fridge? I’m guessing this would bring out more flavor from the spices and still save time over the next few days. Something magical happens when the spices release their oils…a whole other uncompareable level of flavor I’ve found.

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jemma said

the best chai i’ve had in a while was from a stall at borough market! there tea was from sri lanka and the women cooking it told me she uses their blend own blend that had black pepper in it and cooks it one part hot water to two parts milk.

served with cinnamon on top! it was divine!

Marie said

Ooh! Sounds divine! I haven’t thought of switching the water to cream ratio for chai. That’s gives me ideas. I like the thought of topping the tea with a spice like cinnamon (or nutmeg?). Just to push it over the top a bit in one direction.

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I used to make my own chai too, one that I sold when I had my company. But, that is a recipe I will not share. :) Trade secret.

Marie said

:) love it. One would think with all the tea blends on the market there couldn’t possibly be any new ones. I disagree, there is tons of room for new blends. That’s what makes it exciting! At least one of the reasons anyway. :)

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Nicole said

Completely agree that boiling makes a difference. Made a pot of Butiki’s Premium Chai at home and then a pot at work. No boiling water at work, about 190 degrees. Not as flavorful by a long shot.

My only experiment with making from scratch was an instant blend that I gave for Christmas one year to non-tea people. :)

1 cup nonfat dry powdered milk
1 cup powdered nondairy creamer
1 cup french vanilla nondairy creamer
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups unsweetened instant tea
1 teaspoon ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves, optional
1 teaspoon ground cardamon

Mix in blender or food processor till mixture is finely textured.
Mix 2 heaping tablespoons of mix into 8 ounces hot water or to taste

Marie said

I love that you figured out ratios for a full dry mix. Hope your friends liked it?

Nicole said

Oh, it wasn’t me that figured the ratios. I found the recipe in a little checkstand cookbook many years ago. :) And I actually never got any feedback from the giftees. I may have spoiled them, though, they have been getting non-instant tea at tea parties every other month for awhile. :)

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Yum! Tis the season for Chai my friends :D
I tried my make my own chai the other day, accidentally got some rooibos in the mix (I swear it was an accident!) so it didn’t turn out how I expected it – but still good!

I sometimes make some homemade hot chocolate then add some black tea and chai ingredients while it simmers. A little extra cinnamon and whala – heaven!

Marie said

I like adding a pinch of cayenne to my hot chocolate. Never thought of using the chai mix with hot chocolate – wonder if it translates to fudge too?

That’s great the rooibos worked. :)

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oooh cayenne! Love that too!
Chocolate chai fudge sounds just as heavenly!

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Missy and I have had a hard time finding a good vanilla chai (we really like vanilla), so we started making our own simple chai.

We use 2 parts of a Vanilla Black tea (Colonille from SerendipiTea), add in 1 part cinnamon, 1 part cardamom, and 1 part clove. We also chop up a whole vanilla bean, and add one of those per ‘tin’. Not sure how that works into parts offhand.

Uniquity said

Hah, I was trying to make a decaf “Thai Chi” (Chai Tea to the rest of us) for a houseguest this weekend and had to use Vanilla Comoro as the decaf english breakfast was gone. It was surprisingly good!

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Lauren said

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