My everyday chai + 5 tips to make the best chai | an authentic Indian chai recipe, that’s bold and rich while being perfectly sweet and flavorful.
The word chai meaning tea is the drink many Indians start their day with. It’s a ritual more than a beverage, the boiling of water, pounding of ginger and slow sipping of the hot beverage that simultaneously cools and warms you. So you can see that when cafes start calling chai, chai tea, why it drives us all bananas, because you’re just really asking for tea tea. Silly, I know.
Most chai has some type of spice component, be it ginger, cardamom or chai masala (a custom spice blend). If you visit India, you’ll see chai-wallas on every corner, pouring steaming tea from a height (called “pulling” the chai), streaming it into little cups. This is some of the best chai you can experience.
To get that same frothy, beautifully spiced and milky flavor at home, try my everyday chai recipe following these 5 tips to make the best chai.
1. Use brown sugar, jaggery or gud to sweeten your chai.
Trust me, once you start using one of these you’ll forget using white table sugar. It gives the chai a homey, rustic fragrance and taste.
2. Grate or finely pound your ginger.
I always grate fresh ginger to get the most flavor out of the pulp and juices. Pieces of ginger won’t have the same effect as you’re not able to squeeze their juices out for maximum flavor.
3. Add your sugar/sweetener of choice into your strainer.
When you strain your chai it will melt the sugar/sweetener, resulting in minimal stirring while leaving your chai evenly sweet without that shot of sweetness towards the end.
4. Use whole milk.
I can’t compromise here. The fats in the milk make magic when mixed with the masalas, balancing their flavors while elevating the spices. Whole milk also creates a thicker chai.
5. Pull your chai.
Take the chai and pour back and forth repeatedly between two vessels or from a ladle into your pot from a height. This process makes your chai thick and frothy while adding extra aromatic. This is how the chai-wallahs in India make their famous road side teas.
- 4 cups water
- 1 tablespoon loose black tea
- 1 teaspoon grated or pounded ginger, fresh
- ½ teaspoon chai masala
- ¾ cup whole milk
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- In a saucepan, add water and heat until simmering.
- Add in the fresh ginger and chai masala and bring to a rapid boil for 3-4 minutes.
- Add loose tea and boil for about 3 minutes.
- Pour in the milk and adjust heat to medium, allowing flavors to mix well, simmering for about 5 minutes.
- With a deep ladle, pour the chai back and forth repeatedly into your pot from a height. This process makes your chai thick and frothy while adding extra aromatics. Repeat a few times.
- Remove from heat. Put your strainer/sieve on your cup and put ½ tablespoon sugar in there. Pour chai through strainer. Repeat for the second cup.
- Mix gently and enjoy hot.