food 4 tots

Masala chai (Indian tea)

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According to Wikipedia, masala chai is a beverage from the Indian subcontinent made by brewing tea with a mixture of aromatic Indian spices and herbs. There is no universal recipe or method used for preparing masala chai. It varies among each household based on their taste and preferences.

 

Nevertheless, all masala chai are basically made up of four components: tea, sweetener, milk and spices. The most commonly used spices are: cardamom, clove, cinnamon, ginger, star anise and peppercorn. These spices can bring many potential health benefits to the body. For example,
a) Cardamom helps to relieve indigestion problems.
b) Clove helps to invigorate the body and is great at relieving flus and colds.
c) Cinnamon helps to lower blood pressure, reduce pains and fevers, relieve symptoms of indigestions, nausea, gas and heartburn. It can also help with menstrual cramps.

I had my first cup of chai latte at an English coffee house many years ago. It was like “love at first sight”. The strong and intense flavour of the mixed spices had produced a warm and soothing effect to my body, making me difficult to resist a second cup. Although I didn’t have this kind of indulgence for quite some time, it has stirred up my interest when I chanced upon a masala chai recipe. When I mentioned this matter to my close friend Mrs R over a casual conversation the next day, she had immediately invited me to her house for a cup of chai! Without a second thought, I happily accepted her kind offer. On that day, she even demonstrated her own method of making chai. Here, I share with you a simple and easy recipe for making masala chai with the courtesy of Mrs R:

Ingredients:
½ cup water
½ cup fresh/ UHT milk
1 piece of fresh ginger
2 cardamoms
2 tsp Indian tea leaves
Sugar (to taste)

Note: My preferred variation: add 1 cinnamon stick (break into pieces) and use a larger piece of fresh ginger.

Methods:
1) Use a rolling pin, pound the ginger and crush the cardamoms.

2) Add water into a small pot/ saucepan and bring it to a boil.
3) Add ingredients in step(1) into the boiling water.
4) After 5 seconds, add in tea leaves.
5) Let it simmer for 1 minute. Then add in milk.

6) Before the milk starts to boil, turn off the heat.
7) Strain the tea and spice residues into a teacup and serve.

Other reading references:
Chai! Spiced milk tea
Culinary Teas – Masala chai
Drink your health with chai tea

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36 Comments

  1. danazia says:

    Yum! I too am a great lover of chai. I first experienced it in the Hawaiian islands, when a friend, who lived in India for 20 years, made it for a party. Been in love since. I did a post on tea last year that you might find fun. http://danazia.wordpress.com/2008/03/01/taking-time-for-tea/ This is a nice recipe and great pictures. Thanks for the post

  2. Pam says:

    Oh how I would love a cup of this right now – it looks perfect.

    Fantastic photos!

  3. tigerfish says:

    So much efforts going into the tea. Wow 🙂 Where can I get Indian tea leaves?

  4. Burp and Slurp~! says:

    I love chai…it’s perfect when I wanna curl up with a good book.

  5. Christelle says:

    Humm, I really love this recipe, I shall try it tonight! 🙂

  6. Food For Tots says:

    Danazia: Welcome to my humble kitchen! I had read your post and it was really fantastic!

    Pam: Tks for your compliments.

    Tigerfish: According to Mrs R, you can get it from any Indian shop at Little India. Or else, try to find it at your nearby supermarket under the beverage section. 😉

    Burp and Slurp~!: Tks for dropping by. Wow! What a great idea!

    Christelle: After trying it out, do share with me your feedback. 😉

  7. Pearl says:

    i just saw that on foodgawker!

    it looks like such a nice cup to cuddle up with at nights 🙂

  8. pixen says:

    I’m a fan of masala chai! First time I tasted it was years ago in a Kashmiri Restaurant in Penang. They have 2 version – 1 with only Cinnamon and 2 with the stronger and spicier lot. The kashimiri chai is sweeter because of the Cinnamon compared to Southern Indian which black pepper, ginger, cardamom and ‘secret herbs’ which I think I nearly knew what it was.

    At the restaurants, they usually served the masala chai with the stainless steel cup on a bowl… upside down. Usually, the staffs will do the ‘trick’ for you as it’s really hot and you may end with burnt fingers or spill the tea over your body! After that you enjoy it with your Indian food! Maybe 2nd round and more? 🙂

  9. Dora says:

    Spicy tea? Not sure whether i like it. Ha ha. ;p

  10. mycookinghut says:

    I have tried Chai tea before. Is it the same?

  11. Food For Tots says:

    Pearl: Hmmm….I luv this kind of indulgence too!

    Pixen: Oh really! I did not pay much attention to the tea when I worked as a waitress in Kashmiri Restaurant during my semester break. I luv their mango lassi instead! Besides that, I also like Northern Indian cuisine. R u a fan too?

    Dora: If you dun add peppercorns, it will not be spicy. Quite similar to Celyon tea. 😉

    My cooking hut: I guess they refer to the same meaning but the ingredients and preparation method may vary. 🙂

  12. Little Corner of Mine says:

    Looks thick and good. I didn’t even know there is Indian tea leaves, wonder is there a huge difference.

  13. Cynthia says:

    Since I discovered tea masala, I never have my tea any other way 🙂 That cups looks rather inviting.

  14. Bits of Life 'n' Taste says:

    Huhu…. I loved tea to bits and I’m going to try this tea soon… Love ya! and thanks for sharing!

  15. Selba says:

    Wow… beautiful pic!

    Would love to have a cup of masala chai 🙂

  16. Lingzie says:

    i love masala tea!! haven’t tried to make masala tea on my own, though i’ve tried making chai cupcakes. guess its an acquired taste though cos not many ppl liked them spiced cupcakes!

  17. worldwindows says:

    I like the step by step guide. This will give good competition to those Chai Latte in expensive cafe.

  18. Maya says:

    Home made chai is waaay better than the ones in an instant tea bag.

  19. Food For Tots says:

    LCOM: Yes, there is a diff in terms of texture and aroma btw Indian tea leaves and Chinese tea leaves. Frankly speaking, I dun have much knowledge on tea leaves but just get hooked on the taste and smell of this chai. Hehehe!

    Cynthia: Oh! You are another masala chai fan!

    BOLNT: Now I know 1 more thing abt you. Hehehe!

    Selba: Tks for your compliment. Will bring u for a cup of masala when u come to Spore. 😉

    Lingzie: Tks for dropping by. What? Chai cupcakes!!! It is new to me. Sounds uniques and interesting! Hmmmm….wonder why can I sample some……. R u going to post the recipe in your blog? 😉

    Worldwindows: Yeah, it is definitely expensive as compared to homemade. My hubby just drank 1 cup recently. He said it costed him around S$5 but it tasted superb! So tempted to try it out myself. Hehehe!

    Maya: I totally agreed with you!!

  20. New Kid on the Blog says:

    sorry… not tea fan, but coffee lover.

  21. lisaiscooking says:

    I enjoy a lot of different kinds of tea, but I never make chai. This has me wanting to make some now!

  22. Food For Tots says:

    NKOTB: My hubby n I are coffee lovers too! We have made our own espresso during breakfast every morning. 😉

    Lisais cooking: Give it a try and hope u will like it. 😉

  23. Big Boys Oven says:

    I love those tea, very fragrant! something simple not too sweet will taste even better!

  24. Food For Tots says:

    BBO: There are many spices & herbs u can play around with. Give it a try!

  25. noobcook says:

    I didn’t know so much work goes into making Indian Tea, love the photos and detailed write up 🙂

  26. Food For Tots says:

    Noobcook: The one u see from this posting is considered the easiest method. If u r also a tea fan, give it a try. It is not that complicated as u think 🙂

  27. Jenni says:

    Lovely pictures, and your chai looks wonderful. I have some rather less good pictures of making chai on my blog, if you are interested: http://mangosoup.blogspot.com/2009/08/masala-chai.html

  28. Lynn says:

    Can I use Lipton tea instead of indian tea?

    • food-4tots says:

      Lynn: So sorry, I’m not an expert in tea. But, I think Lipton tea (with tea bag) is meant for brewing than boiling. Hence, I do not recommend it for this recipe. 🙂

  29. Brenda says:

    You can boil with Lipton Tea – just remove the tag before you boil it! 😉

    The usual Lipton Yellow Label tea is black tea.

    The tea-bag is merely for convenience of tea drinkers. 😉

    • food-4tots says:

      Brenda: Thanks for your kind sharing. As what I understand, tea leaves meant for brewing require different temperature than those for boiling. As Lipton black tea is packed in a tea bag, it suits more for brewing than boiling to me. Furthermore, if you check out their website, none of their products is recommended for boiling. Just my own opinion. Correct me if I’m wrong. 🙂

  30. Brenda says:

    There is no difference to whatever temperature that’s used once the tea leaves are processsed. The process is what makes green/white/black tea. The temperature that the tea is seeped in, the length of time, these factors affect only how strong the tea is brewed.

    Tea can even be brewed in room temperature water, but the process would take too long, and the fragrance would probably not have such a heady effect as would tea made in a warmer water.

    Tea bags are a relatively new invention (1953, according to Wiki) for the convenience of tea drinkers. In fact, you could make Masala tea by putting all your spices into a boiling bag, and your tea leaves in another, for the convenience of pouring it out. The key would be which kind of tea you’re using, and as pointed out, it ought to be black tea – the sort of tea traditionally made by Indian tea plantations (although now the process has been exported to all tea producing countries). The process of making black tea differs from other teas in the length of time it’s fermented before it’s heated up to stop the oxidising process.

    I suspect the reason Lipton’s website don’t recommend boiling their tea is simply because it would defeat the purpose of convenience to have the average tea drinkers to boil their tea as a step; which is why the idea of boiling tea like Marsala tea in most countries don’t take off. For most Lipton drinkers, it’s enough to seep their tea in hot water from a dispenser. 😉

    Tea leaves brew at different temperatures for different fragrances; most non-black tea with fewer oxidisation actually brew better at between 75-80 deg C. 😉 Black tea, with the highest oxidisation, is sometimes boiled for up to 15 minutes to extract a stronger brew, especially to offset the spices in the Masala mix. 🙂

  31. Brenda says:

    Actually, I was looking for a recipe to try making a Masala Tea ice-cream when I stumbled on your site. I’m a long time tea-drinker myself, which is why I thought to answer that question from Lynn. 🙂

    Thanks so much for sharing the recipe, and kudos for your well-taken pictures! 🙂

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