Indian Chai

There is nothing better than a true cup of Indian Chai, and what can be better than being able to make it in the comfort of your own kitchen.  Those who are chai obsessed (like Hubby and me) are VERY particular about their chai.  Chai can be made in many different ways; with ginger added for “ginger chai”, with cardamom and cloves added for “cardamom chai”.  There’s even a spice mix you can buy at the Indian store for “masala chai”.

Many of my American friends tell me they love chai.  I’m always very interested when they tell me this because I immediately wonder where do they get chai from?  How are they experiencing authentic Indian chai?  Then they almost always tell me…Starbucks.  Now Starbucks is a great place…I am personally a Peet’s girl myself.  But I have to set the record straight.  The “Chai Latte” they serve at Starbucks might be milky and delicious, but it is nothing like actual Indian chai.  To experience the real deal, chai must be made from scratch. There are no shortcuts when it comes to chai.

I love inviting my friends over for chai.  It’s always the best cup of chai they have ever had, because it’s finally the real thing.  The real test for making great chai is when Indians, who drink chai multiple times a day, say they love your chai and ask you what kind of tea you use.

Here is the recipe you’ll need for a great cup of chai.

Recipe: Authentic Indian Chai

This recipe calls for black loose-leaf Indian tea. If you want the taste of real Indian chai, you cannot use just any black loose-leaf tea or it just won’t taste right. It’s got to be the Indian stuff which means you will need to find an Indian store. Of course, one would never bother to use tea bags, you might as well just go to Starbucks.

Time: 15 minutes (10 minutes if you like it steaming hot)

Serving: two 8 oz. cups of chai

Ingredients:

1 cup water

2 tablespoons. Indian black tea

1 cup milk (more if you like it thicker, less if you like the tea stronger)

sugar/agave/any sweetener: to taste

a note on tea:

we use the brand “Wagh Bakri Chai”. In English this means “Tiger Goat tea”…who knows why…but that’s the name. We used to use “Brooke Bond Red Label” then we used the “Tata” label but “Wagh Bakri” has the best overall taste. If you don’t have an Indian store in your neighborhood, You will need to find yourself an Indian friend or co-worker to pick you up the real stuff at an Indian store. My family in Santa Cruz, where there is no Indian grocery store, just tells me to bring stuff for them when we come down.

Procedure:

Pour water and 2 tablespoons of tea into a pot and bring to a boil. If you are using sugar to sweeten your tea, add it at the beginning as well. If using agave or something similar, use it at the end once you have strained your tea.

Once the tea begins to boil, start the timer for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes of boiling, add milk and bring to a boil again. For stronger tea, bring the milkened-tea to a boil at least 3 times, this is optional and usually only done by very demanding chai drinkers (I include myself in this category).

Strain and serve at this time if you like it super hot. We like to let it sit for 5 minutes in the pot just to cool it down a bit.

This is what we drink every morning. In India, my mother-in-law uses buffalo milk rather than cow’s milk, which has a much heavier and thicker consistency as well as a lot more flavor. However, I have yet to find buffalo milk in the Indian store, so we use 2% milk. If using whole milk, you can use a bit more water and less milk since it is thicker, but that depends on your taste preference.

Enjoy!!

If you try the recipe, let me know how it goes.  Write me a comment or send me an email here.

Recipe: Authentic Indian Chai

This recipe calls for black loose-leaf Indian tea. Time: 15 minutes (10 minutes if you like it steaming hot) Servings: For two 8 oz. cups of chai

Ingredients:

1 cup water 2 tbs. Indian black tea 1 cup milk (more if you like it thicker, less if you like the tea stronger) sugar/agave/any sweetener: to taste

a note on tea:

we use the brand “Wagh Bakri Chai”. This can be found at an Indian grocery store.

Procedure:

Pour water and 2 teaspoons of tea into a pot and bring to a boil. If you are using sugar to sweeten your tea, add it at the beginning as well. If using agave or something similar, use it at the end once you have strained your tea. Once the tea begins to boil, start the timer for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes of boiling, add milk and bring to a boil again. For stronger tea, bring the milkened-tea to a boil at least 3 times, this is optional and usually only done by very demanding chai drinkers (I include myself in this category). Strain and serve at this time if you like it super hot or let cool. This is what we drink every morning. In India, my mother-in-law uses buffalo milk rather than cow’s milk, which has a much heavier and thicker consistency as well as a lot more flavor. However, I have yet to find buffalo milk in the Indian store, so we use 2% milk. If using whole milk, you can use a bit more water and less milk since it is thicker, but that depends on your taste preference. Enjoy!!

MORE CHAI RECIPES

Ginger Chai

Cake Rusk

21 Comments

  1. 7-26-2011

    I love chai! When I was in India I got this chai from a street vendor called “masala chai,” which you can imagine was full of spice. But the man literally ground the spices (ginger, cinnamon, cardamon, black pepper, anise, maybe more?) right when you ordered and it was sooo fresh and amazing. I did bring some Indian black tea back with me, so I will have to try this method! I will probably through a cinnamon stick in the pot though, because I like my chai spicy!

    • 7-26-2011

      Thanks Nikita-Let me know how it goes for you! This is the bare-bones of chai. I’ll be posting separately for ginger-chai, cardamom-chai and masala-chai so check back soon!

  2. 8-11-2011

    This is amazing :) so do you enjoy Indian Chai ? I cannot leave without it! Going to make some now :)

    • 8-12-2011

      Hi Kankana, thanks for visiting. It’s nice to know more Indian food enthusiasts are nearby! Yes, I absolutely adore good chai.

      • 7-23-2013

        would you happen to know how to make chai without the Indian black tea? because of where i live Indian black tea is not accessible

        • 7-23-2013

          Hi Toni – That is such a great question and it’s one a get a lot. In my experience, if you don’t use Indian tea, it would definitely not taste anything like authentic chai, but it is still worth a try. I would recommend finding a strong black tea to use. You might want to try strong black teas with an “earthy” flavor, like a “puerh” tea or an “oolong” tea.

  3. 11-11-2011

    Hi Colleen, I’m making masala chai right now (I used your recipe and just added masala spice powder that the guy at the Indian market recommended). Do you stir at all while it is boiling or just let it sit?

    • 11-12-2011

      It should mix in as it boils away. How did it turn out?

  4. 4-14-2012

    Hi Colleen-thanks for this recipe, I will try it! You may have a little typo there – in the list you have 2TBS black tea, in the description it’s 2 teaspoons of tea. Makes it a little confusing. If I remember how strong Indian black leaves are, I would guess you intended 2 tsp to be enough for the resulting 2c. of liquid (2 cups of chai). Top of the morning to you.

    • 4-14-2012

      Hi BakinBlondie – Thanks for pointing that out. I fixed it, it’s actually 2 tablespoons to 2 cups.

  5. 4-24-2012

    I just came across ur blog and just want to comment, can’t stop myself… :) I’m not an avid tea drinker, but when my hubby and I want to have, we want it really strong. What we do is mix the milk, water and sugar along with a pinch of cardamom and keep on flame till the mix starts to boil on the sides, then we add the tea powder, wait till it boils and pushes up completely and then reduce the flame and leave it till the tea becomes as per strength required… then strain and serve. I guess that’s the south Indian way of doing it, but it tastes real yum… maybe u could try it… You are doing a great job, I’ve saved some of the recipes for trying… :)

    • 4-24-2012

      Hi Rafeeda, Thank you very much for your sweet words. I would love to try your chai on a friend of mine, she’s crazy for cardamom.

  6. 8-16-2012

    hi colleen,

    yipppeee, we use the same waghbakri brand in our home…even i had the same thought in my head regarding the name…goat tiger tea…rofl

    luv

    estelle,bombay

  7. 9-6-2012

    Wanted to say ‘thanks’ for the great tips and site!

    Personally I’m a big fan of ‘mamri’ tea. The malty flavour can’t be beat…

  8. 4-5-2013

    I just came across your post while searching for Indian tea and enjoyed reading it. Just in case you are still wondering why the tea is called Bagh Bakri chai, the brand’s tagline is ‘Bagh bakri chai – rishte banaye’, which means ‘ – it builds relationships’. The idea is that this tea can even make a tiger and a goat friends, since people bond over a cup of tea. :)

    • 4-5-2013

      I’m so glad you shared that!! Now it all makes sense :)

      Thanks Rachna :) I’ve made many friends over a cup of tea, I can certainly relate.

  9. 9-9-2014

    September 2014 in the house! Thank you for this blog post several years ago, I have it hanging on my fridge and I love it.

    Note from an India-loving but naive white girl: Wagh Bakri also makes an instant chai. I write to you having boiled the snot out of instant tea and made a very bitter mess of my first attempt at chai masala. I will head back to Subzi Mandi and read labels more carefully! ;)

    • 9-15-2014

      Thanks so much :) Love knowing it’s on your fridge!

      …I didn’t even know there was any such thing as instant chai.

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