Masala Chai Tea

Chai teaMasala Chai tea is a spiced tea that originated in India. The word ‘masala’ is Hindi for ‘spices’ and “chai” is “tea”. It is traditionally made with black tea, milk, sugar, and a blend of spices such as cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, and black pepper.  Nowadays you can buy Chai Tea in most supermarkets, coffee shops and restaurants, and there are a variety of blends, Rooibos and Green Tea versions, or you can go all out and have a Chai Latte or Cappuccino.  Making your own blend is easy, cheaper, and probably healthier as you can use organic ingredients.

Like most recipes there is a ‘proper’ way to make Chai.  The first is that you make a fresh blend every time you prepare a cup, which is very time consuming.  It is easier to have a pot of a blend on hand and take out 1 or 2 teaspoons as you need it.  The second is that it should be cow’s milk and lots of sugar.  There are alternatives for both, and you can reduce the sweetness.  If you find it is too rich, you can also make Chai with half milk and half water.

Tea pullingAnd finally, a real cup of Masala Chai goes through the process of ‘pulling’ which is described below.  I have an Indian friend whose mom was visiting South Africa, and she made it for me.  It was an absolute treat and I wish I had the time (or she would visit more often!)

I don’t drink cow’s milk and use almond or soya instead which taste just as good.  Cold, I prefer it black and cold Rooibos is my favourite with lots of ice and a slice of orange.

Chai tea contains a lot of sugar which enhances the spices.  Replace the sugar with honey or other natural sweetener if you prefer.

I find green tea isn’t strong enough and the spices overpower it, although you do have the health benefits.

Tea pulling

The correct way to make Masala Chai tea is using a method called pulling. In India the brew is poured back and forth between two pots, from a high distance until it turns slightly foamy. “Pulling” aerates the chai, making it taste smoother and creamier and gives it a silky feel.

Chai tea is a good source of antioxidants and has been shown to have a number of health benefits, including:

  • Improved digestion
  • Reduced stress
  • Boosted immunity
  • Increased energy levels
  • Weight loss

How to make Chai Tea

1 cup of milk

2 Tbsp of sugar

1-2 tsp Chai tea blend

Heat the milk in a saucepan over medium heat until it is just about to boil.

Remove the milk from the heat and add the sugar and tea blend.

Steep the tea for 5 minutes.

Strain the tea and enjoy.


Replace the milk with any non-dairy milk

Replace the sugar with honey, raw cane sugar, agave syrup or other sweetener


Tea Blends

Combine all ingredients and use 1-2 tsp per cup.  Tea type can be replaced with black, oolong, pekoe, rooibos, green, white or any other tea you can find.

Store in a tin, glass, wood or ceramic container.

Tea Blend 1

2 tsp of ground cinnamon

1 tsp of ground ginger

½ tsp ground cardamom

½ tsp ground cloves

½ tsp ground black pepper

½ cup black tea leaves


Tea Blend 2

1 Cinnamon stick 2-3cm

8 Cardamom pods, seeds removed

½ tsp ground nutmeg

1 star aniseed, crushed

½ tsp ground black pepper

½ cup black tea leaves


Ginger Chai Blend

½ tsp black pepper

12 green cardamon pods, seeds removed from pods and slightly crushed

1 tsp fennel seeds, slightly crushed

1 Cinnamon stick, crushed (2-3cm)

2 tsp ginger powder (or add 1 slice fresh ginger when preparing the tea)

½  cup black tea leaves

Crush everything with a pestle and mortar and mix well


Rooibos Vanilla Blend

1 Cinnamon stick (3-4cm)

10 Cardamon pods

½ tsp Black peppercorns

¼ tsp vanilla pod with seeds

¼ cup rooibos tea leaves

Crush everything with a pestle and mortar and mix well


Rooibos Latte

12 green cardamom pods

6 cloves

1 tsp fennel seeds

½ tsp black peppercorns

1 cinnamon stick 2cm long

1 star anise

½ cup rooibos espresso powder, or 3 sachets

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