Y’all I’m not gonna lie, I would pick chai over a coffee any day. Not that I drink that much coffee in the first place, but still. For me, chai has always had a special place in my heart. It’s always been much more than just a spicy drink option at the coffee shop, but a way of inviting people into your home and spending time with those you care about. Whenever my parent’s friends would come over to the house, even just to drop something off for less than two minutes, one of the first questions was always, “Would you like a cup of chai?” Obviously, that then turned into a two-hour conversation and catch-up in the living room, but that’s beside the point. Clearly, magic is a key ingredient in every chai tea recipe, or at least it feels that way when I drink my mom’s.

Bringing out a tray of chai with some biscuits was a way of forging connections and building relationships, finding out what was going on in someone’s life and taking a break from the fast-paced lives everyone is dealing with.

Looking back now, I kind of get all wispy and nostalgic about those moments. So since I don’t live at home anymore where a cup of chai was just one ask away, I had to start finding my own formula (or accept dropping $5 at the coffee shop downstairs every time the craving strikes).

On my journey to finding what the best blend of chai was that I could make on my own, I went on a bit of a scavenger hunt. To say I tried every chai I could find in my city would be a bit of an exaggeration, but I did my fair share of sampling—everything from trying chai at all the local coffee shops, drinking several bottled chai’s at the grocery stores, and even testing several different chai concentrates and starters on the market. So what did my taste tests reveal?

1. A lot of chai out there is just too sweet.

2. They’re missing the depth of flavor that comes from the co-mingling of spices, aka they are either too ginger or cinnamon forward in taste.

3. They don’t wrap up the feeling of getting a hug in a cup from your aunty.

I don’t know that there will ever be a version of chai that is as great as when your mom or grandmother makes it, (I swear I have followed my mom’s recipe EXACTLY before, and it still doesn’t taste as good as when she makes it) but what I’ve put together here is about as classic as it can get while also giving everyone room to experiment and emphasize the flavors they like.

That’s the thing about chai. It’s not really a true recipe. It’s more like a set of guidelines and suggestions to follow to create a delicious cup of goodness.

Every family I know has their own special version and secret (or not so secret) spice blend that makes their chai their own. But for the most part, all of these recipes follow a certain formula:

  • Water
  • Milk
  • Black tea
  • Ginger
  • Assorted spices (cinnamon, cardamom, cloves)
  • Sugar

While I normally make drinks without sweeteners, you absolutely need a little bit of sweetness in chai for it to taste right. Most of the spices that are used in a chai blend lean towards bitter and earthy flavors when on their own. So if you don’t add sugar and have lots of spices that are naturally bitter, you’re going to end up with a drink that’s got a little bit of kick to it, but it won’t taste quite right or like a real chai. I’m not saying you need to add a lot of sugar (my batch blend of six cups of liquid only has 2-3 tablespoons of honey), but having that smidge of sweetness helps to temper the spices and really smooth out the flavor.

Other notes I’ve discovered from testing gallons on gallons of chai?

-Fresh-crushed spices are leaps and bounds ahead of powdered or pre-packaged blends.

-Toasting those fresh spices make a world of difference in releasing those flavored and aromatic spice oils.

-Chopping or grating the ginger helps infuse that spicy flavor more than just slicing rounds of the root. If you prefer a subtle ginger flavor, keep the rounds.

-You can have so much fun by trying out different spice combinations!

I like making a batch of chai to store in the fridge, reheating or serving over ice when I like throughout the week. Obviously, chai tastes best when made fresh, but I find it easier to make a large serving at one time. My personal batch leans to the spicy side, so if you don’t like too much spice, cut the pepper and ginger amounts. If you prefer the extra flavor, add extra amounts to all the spices. I do hope you’ll give this a try and let me know what spice combos you like. Chai is one of these amazing recipes that everyone can put their own signature spin on, and I would love to know yours.

Check out more recipes from Global Kitchen here!

Masala Chai

Serves 6

How to Make the Best Classic Chai

By Camille Styles


  • 6 - 7 whole peppercorns (depending on your heat preference!)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 8 cloves
  • 13 - 15 green cardamom pods
  • 4 inches of ginger, cut into thin rounds
  • 3 cups of water, room temperature
  • 3 cups almond milk *, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 - 3 tbsp honey (depending on your sweetness preference - you can swap out sweetener of choice, I also use granulated sugar)
  • 2 - 3 tbsp dried black tea (I prefer loose leaf darjeeling or assam tea leaves, CTC Assam black tea works great too)

*This will give you a basic chai recipe, if you prefer more flavor, add extra spices and experiment with what you like!


  1. Add all of the whole spices to a mortar and pestle and crush into large pieces.
  2. Bring a stove top pot up to a low/medium heat. add the crushed spices and toast for about 2 minutes, then add the ginger and continue toasting for another minute until the spices start becoming very aromatic.
  3. Add water and milk to the pot. stir and bring up to a simmer to a very light boil - this should take about 10 -15 minutes. Add the tea leaves and simmer for about a minute. Remove from heat.
  4. Add the honey/sweetener and stir to combine.
  5. Pour the chai through a strainer to catch all of the whole spices.
  6. Serve warm or let cool and store in fridge to serve over ice.
  7. Enjoy!

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Comments (30)
  1. 1
    Harshi Hettige February 15, 2018 at 9:45 am

    I am constantly trying to my perfect my chai at home (and cafes that get it right are few and far between). Thanks for this!

  2. 2
    beckieporritt February 15, 2018 at 11:15 am

    I have genuinely never tried Chai! It’s something I’d definitely love to make now.

    Beckie || The Pale Tails

  3. 3
    Beauty Blogger February 15, 2018 at 2:02 pm

    Just pinned this yummy recipe 🙂 xoxo

  4. 4
    Eva February 16, 2018 at 7:10 pm

    Thanks for the recipe! I can’t wait to try it out this weekend. I love chai and, depending on my mood, will switch from super sweet to more traditional. I’m not going to lie – I love that sickly sweet Trader Joe’s chai powder in lieu of desert though. There’s a guy in my hometown that makes a “yogic” chai and sells it to all the coffee shops, and it’s pretty good though more on the spicy side.

    Eva | http://www.shessobright.com

  5. 5
    Shubana February 19, 2018 at 2:48 pm

    I always look forward to warm chai whenever I visit India. I don’t often order it in shops because it’s just not the same thing… your recipe looks pretty authentic. going to have to try it out!

    Sugar Coated Things x Beauty Blog

  6. 6
    Princess Carmina October 19, 2018 at 5:17 pm

    I followed the recipe to the letter and the mix curdled. I think it is caused by adding fresh ginger before the water – milk mix is brought to a boil. I am not sure this recipe will ever work out in its current form.

    • Suruchi October 21, 2018 at 10:42 am

      Hi Carmina! I’ve never had the milk curdle when making this. If you think it’s the ginger you could try grating it for smaller pieces or adding after the liquid is warmed to get the flavor! Hope that helps!

    • Suruchi October 21, 2018 at 11:04 am

      I should also note you don’t need to bring it up to a full boil, just a light simmer and then remove from heat!

    • Cyn March 6, 2019 at 8:57 pm

      That’s strange, I have never had this problem either and I make a lot

  7. 7
    Christie October 21, 2018 at 8:08 pm

    Thank you! I am always on the search for a good chai. It is almost impossible to find a place that makes it from scratch. I have never felt that my home version was quite right either. I have searched all over the internet for a good recipe. Your combination of spices (more cardamom than usual), pounding and toasting them, and chopping the ginger made all the difference. I will cut back on the milk a little next time but the flavor is perfect. Thank you!

  8. 8
    Kate February 22, 2019 at 6:38 pm

    I love chai lattes! I definitely need to try this recipe out!


  9. 9
    Nicole Mortier February 23, 2019 at 1:17 am

    My Somali friend says it tastes exactly like home. But we never warm up the honey. Just add in the mug.

  10. 10
    Fortune Dushey February 25, 2019 at 7:04 am

    Love chai tea! Its my favorite!
    Thanks for the recipe and the images are gorgeous.
    Going to try this!

  11. 11
    Sherry July 17, 2019 at 5:25 am

    Looking forward to try this yummy recipe! If you were to store this in the fridge, how long will it last?

  12. 12
    Avril May 4, 2020 at 12:43 am

    Hi! Looks delicious. I love tea! Where did you buy the white saucepan?


    • Suruchi Avasthi May 4, 2020 at 10:29 am

      I believe I got it from Amazon a few years ago – search for an enamel spouted milk pot and you should find something similar!

  13. 13
    Gloria September 9, 2020 at 1:55 am

    How many cups does it make? That seems a lot of spices for one cup

    • Suruchi Avasthi September 9, 2020 at 2:10 pm

      Hey Gloria – this makes 6 cups of chai!

  14. 14
    Lakshmi Narayana January 11, 2021 at 1:55 pm

    It’s exactly how my Mom makes it?! ?Love the website by the way ???

  15. 15
    Ana January 20, 2021 at 12:35 pm

    Is it possible to replace the black tea with something herbal instead? I don’t drink black/white/green tea.

    • Suruchi Avasthi January 20, 2021 at 7:36 pm

      Hey Ana – I don’t recommend swapping in an herbal tea for the black tea here – the flavors won’t quite work together.

  16. 16
    Hannah February 10, 2021 at 7:02 am

    Finally!!! I’ve tried so many chai recipes trying to recreate a few awesome homemade chais I’ve gotten at coffee shops and I find none of them have the right flavor. I love a really spicy chai, so I just doubled the spice recipe but kept the milk/water, tea and sugar amounts the same. It’s PERFECT. Agree with others that the spice ratios are perfect and I love the extra cardamom flavor. So happy. I’ve tried steeping overnight, but I find that the crushing of the seeds (used my dry vitamix) and toasting, then simmering worked perfectly to infuse flavor.

    • Suruchi Avasthi February 10, 2021 at 8:55 am

      Thank you so much, Hannah! So glad to hear you enjoyed this recipe, it’s an all time favorite (:

  17. 17
    Heather Benac October 27, 2021 at 10:21 am

    Could this recipe be modified to be herbal, aka without the black tea leaves?