Making a basic masala chai


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Making a basic masala chai

Postby thirtysixbelow » Dec 7th, '09, 20:58

I'm looking to either make or buy a good basic representation of a masala chai. I know that a lot of the spices chosen are up to the drinker but I was wondering what the essential building blocks were. I know that I need a good ceylon or assam, I'm more curious about the spices (cardamom, cloves, ginger). Some brewing tips would also be appreciated.
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Re: Making a basic masala chai

Postby Ritva » Dec 8th, '09, 04:06

Actually, you don't need a good Ceylon or Assam. Get the cheapest one you can get, preferably CTC-quality (crush-tear-curl). You can't taste any nyances of the tea because of spices so no need to waste good tea. Here are some recipes:
http://www.chai-tea.org/recipes.html
http://www.veetea.com/site/articles/Masala-Chai-Recipes/
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Re: Making a basic masala chai

Postby bsteele » Dec 8th, '09, 05:10

Also check out this thread for some more talk on making spiced tea.
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Re: Making a basic masala chai

Postby thirtysixbelow » Dec 8th, '09, 11:35

Excellent. Thank you both. A quick google search turned up nothing that was as informative as these. Guess I could have tried to search the actual forum also :oops:
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Re: Making a basic masala chai

Postby Rainy-Day » Dec 9th, '09, 02:34

You can make great masala chai with *just* the cardamom. I've done it many times and it's just as good as many spices together. I personally don't like to use ginger because it's too easy to overpower everything else with it, ymmv. The most important thing is to keep stirring continuously for ~10 minutes as you keep adding a bit of milk or half and half at a time, then you get a very smooth mixing of flavours and texture. I use cheap tea usually but I'm not convinced that it'd be useless to try a somewhat more expensive assam, I think it'd be a good experiment. I can't believe that quality of tea wont' make a difference.
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Re: Making a basic masala chai

Postby zhi zheng » Jan 4th, '10, 02:21

This link is for a recipe very similar to one I have been using for some years [url]http://www.chai-tea.org/rec/rec101.html [url]

I would also suggest going easy on the ginger - perhaps in cold weather it's a nice addition.

most important are;
green cardamom (I tend to use more than this recipe suggests. Think 1/cup, but that's a small chai cup not a mug)
cinnamon ( cinnamon is fairly 'warming') so good not to add too much.
cloves (I tend to use rather fewer than some recipes suggest as after boiling for some time they can create an astringency that I don't particularly like).
black pepper or allspice.

Most of the other stuff I wouldn't bother with. I usually use Taj Mahal or Red Label tea ('Brooke Bond Hindustan').

The milk is also important. When I was in NM I used to get raw goats milk which, when used half-half with water made chai that was the closest I could get to real Indian chai. Chai wallahs in India don't use pasturised/homogenized etc. milk! Good raw honey also makes a nice sweetener.

I prefer to boil the water with spices first, then add the tea and finally add the milk, stirring and bringing the mix to a boil each time. That way the tea is boiled - but not excessively.

One needs to bear in mind the loss of water through boiling when calculating quantities.
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Re: Making a basic masala chai

Postby Jack_teachat » Jan 11th, '10, 06:04

I use (for one small cup)

150ml Water
100 ml milk
4 Cardamoms
4 Cloves
4 Black Peppercorns
1 Piece of Cinnamon Stick (about an inch)
Sliced Fresh Ginger (about the same amount as cinnamon)
Half a Star Anise
Palm Sugar - to taste - (You can use normal white sugar but this is better!)
1.5 tsp Assam Tea (doesn't need to be high quality!)


1. Put water and spices into a pan, bring up to the boil, turn down heat, cover and gently simmer for about 10 mins.

2. Add the milk and sugar, stiring gently to dissolve.

3. Bring mixture up to a simmer, turn off heat and add the tea.

4. Let the tea infuse for about 2 mins, strain into a preheated mug.

Have fun experimenting!

Jack :D
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Re: Making a basic masala chai

Postby marlena » Jan 11th, '10, 11:31

I assure you the Indians use the cheapest ctc to make masala chai. I have had several made by fine and not so fine restaurants and good friends and they all use cheap stuff. But the chai is super.
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Re: Making a basic masala chai

Postby suman » Jan 23rd, '10, 17:12

I make my own masala chai concentrate. I simmer water with the spices and let it reduce down by a 3rd. Then I throw in the tea (I use Brooks Bond) and bring it to a boil for about 45 seconds. I turn off the heat and let the concentrate cool. Strain and store in a container in the fridge. This lasts me about a week. I usually will fill my mug with 1/2 concentrate, 1/2 water and heat it up. Then I add sugar and milk. I tend to like my tea really strong, so masala chai lattes at the cafes disappoint me. I have also found that commercial masala chai tends to be heavy on the cinnamon. This allows me to control the tea:milk ratio and the spices. I use the following spices:

ginger - cut in rounds and scored - keeping it somewhat whole seems to help limit the ginger flavor.
black peppercorns - cracked
cardamom pods - seeds cracked
cinnamon stick - just 1 layer of a stick

My friend loves to use fennel seeds too, but I'm not fond of that licorice flavor. I sometimes throw some cloves in.

I hope you find something you like and I hope this helped. :)
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