Masala Chai (or “Chai Tea Latte”)

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Masala Chai (a.k.a. "Chai Tea Latte")

Weather reports call for rain this weekend!   :(

When it rains (which it almost never does here in San Diego), all I feel like doing is sitting down in front of the TV, watching B movies on the SyFy channel (you know, like “Dinocroc vs. Supergator” or something equally awesome), all while sipping a nice warm cup of tea.  My standard cup of tea is, “Tea!  Earl Gray!  Hot!” but without the Enterprise computer to assist me, why not try to make some Indian style tea?

The only time I really get to have this tea (Masala Chai) is when my husband feels like driving all the way down to the Indian restaurant hot spot (about 40 minutes south)… which is almost never.  (The Starbucks version just doesn’t taste right. I know at Starbucks, they call this “Chai Tea Latte.”  But since “chai” means “tea” in South East Asia, ordering a “Chai Tea Latte” is kind of like saying, “Can I have a “Tea Tea latte?”  Lol.  So it doesn’t taste right, and I feel silly ordering it.)

While reading online, I came across some easy instructions for how to make Masala Chai at home, written by an Indian woman who now lives in the U.S.  Those instructions were the basis of this recipe… but after some more research, I found some suggestions to add a little bit of black pepper which gives the tea just a little bit extra spiciness (without being overwhelming).

They do sell cardamom in the spice aisle at the regular grocery store… but you will find it for a much better price if  you go to an Asian market.  I found my cardamom pods at Cost Plus World Market (which was also about half the price of the grocery store).   (Oh, and “masala” means “spiced” just in case you were wondering.)

Masala Chai (2 servings):

From left to right: cloves, cinnamon, and cardamom (ginger in front)

  • 5 whole cloves
  • 3 whole green cardamom pods
  • 1 black peppercorn
  • 1/8 cinnamon stick
  • 2 (1/4 inch) slices ginger
  • 1 tsp. black tea or 1 teabag (Assam if you have it)
  • 2 c. water
  • 1 c. milk
1.  Add 2 c. water to a small saucepan.  Crush the cardamom pods with the back of a knife.  Measure out your spices.
2.  Add the cloves, cardamom, peppercorn, cinnamon stick, and ginger to the water and bring to a low simmer.  Allow the spices to simmer for 5 minutes.  If you want a stronger spice flavor, simmer on low for up to 10 minutes (but you may have to add a little bit more water).
3.  Turn off the heat, and add the black tea.  Allow the tea to steep for another 3-5 minutes.  Then, add the milk, and heat just until boiling – then immediately remove from stove.
4.  Strain the tea through a mesh strainer, and serve.  Sweeten tea with sugar (or artificial sweetener) if desired.  This recipe makes about 2 cups.


  1. Ann says:

    Hi mika,

    Have you tried to use soy milk instead of just milk? Do you think it will work? Also I have ground cardamom instead of the pods. Can I use this and if so would you know how much? Thanks!

    • Mika Mika says:

      Hi Ann,
      No, I’ve never used soy milk… but I don’t see why you can’t? The only difference would be that the tea would have a more soy-flavor than a milky flavor, but if you like the taste of soy, shouldn’t be a problem. Regarding using ground cardamom instead of the pods… I haven’t tried it since you can’t really strain ground spices out like you can whole spices. Maybe try just a pinch, like 1/8 tsp. of ground cardamom and see how that goes… Hope this helps! :)


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