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Chai spice tea- quantity recipe

Me and Chai
Chai for 25
A Quart of concentrate
Mix your own chai spices
No-caf chai
Kashmiri green tea chai and Kashmiri salt tea
Indian Spice Chart
While your chai is simmering, have a look at XXAXX's beautiful silver jewelry

Chai is a sweet, spiced milky tea drink traditionally made with cardamon and other spices, and stewed or brewed black tea. An Indian traditon, it is also called chai masala. A good chai is about the color and richness of a good hot chocolate. It can be served hot or iced. Many people make the tea base a quart at a time, adding the milk when they are ready to serve. In the last few years, thanks in part to our friends at St**b*cks, people have taken to calling this milky edition "chai latte", which is a little silly...

I started drinking this nearly 30 years ago, in Berkeley. Encouraged by my friend Mark, I came up with a pretty good recipe in the days before it showed up in cook books. Then at midwifery school fifteen years ago, Emily got us all started on it again. Now it is in vogue- small cups at high cost in the cafes, and pricy concentrates or flavor packets on the grocery shelves. Long-simmered homemade chai, or more properly "masala tea", has the best flavor.

So make a batch of your own Chai spice mix and then make the tea base at home for the best, low cost treat. You can refrigerate the spiced base for up to a week, reheating and adding the hot milk when you are ready for a cup; or use the whole batch to treat 20+ friends to a cuppa chai.

RECIPES for chai are like recipes for fried chicken; there are a lot of good recipes, strong regional preferences, and everyone thinks theirs is the best. METHODS differ. Some folks stew/boil the tea with the spices. Others stew the spices with the sugar, then add and brew the tea, then add the milk. I like this slightly thickened texture. A third group stews the spices, then adds and brews the tea, then stir in the sugar and the milk. It's your choice.

There are GREAT internet sites for chai, too: try an internet search.

Chai for 20-24 servings

This makes 5-6 quarts of chai,20+ servings.

3 1/2 ounces mixed whole chai spices (about 1 cup) see spices below
1 1/2 ounces black tea (about 1/2 cup), or 2 ounces rooibos
3-4 quarts water
1 1/2 cup brown sugar

Brew and strain using one of the three methods discussed above, stir in:

2 quarts whole milk, scalded

Serve hot or iced.

A quart of chai "tea base" (to prepare six servings):

Simmer together for 15 minutes (after it reaches a simmer) on the stove top or 20 minutes (total) in the microwave:
3 tablespoons ground/broken chai spices or 4 tablespoons whole spices (see mixing suggestions below)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
4 1/2 cups water

Remove from heat. Stir in:

2 tablespoons black tea or 3 tablespoons rooiboos

Cover, brew 5 minutes, strain. You can refrigerate this base up to a week.

To serve, heat the base, add 1/2 to an equal amount of heated milk, (you may preheat milk 5 minutes in microwave - it foams). Stir well, serve with a sprinkle of cardamom.

No-caf chai

Now that black tea is off my list, I substitute 2 ounces of rooibos (South African redbush tea)for the black tea in the quantity recipe. Some folks use a strong green tea (not a traditional Indian variation- see Kahvi- Kashmiri Green Tea Chai). My vegan friends substitute fortified vanilla soy beverage in place of dairy milk.

Mixing chai spices at home

Make and use your spice mix by weight. For best results, use whole or broken spices, not ground! To make 3 ounces, start with about an ounce of shelled green or black cardamon and a half ounce of cinnamon bark. Then be sure you use some clove and ginger, and make up the weight from your favorites from this list:

Allspice, cracked
Black pepper, cracked HOT!
Cardamon, hulled
Coriander seed
Ginger HOT!
Mace and Nutmeg
Star anise
Bay leaf
Vanilla bean (American addition, ala Oregon chai)

Garam marsala (Rajah brand is best) or Chinese five spice powder can be mixed half and half with cardamon for a quickie shortcut chai spice. It tends to be hot-flavored.

Typical Indian Spices


see ginger


see ginger


delicate sweetish licorice flavor, aid to digestion

Assam tea

black Indian tea, strong, full-bodied, produces a dark, orangy liquor with a distinctive 'malty' flavor, good quality, considered 'self-drinker' by Indian government, i.e., tea worth drinking unblended

bay leaves

large dried leaves of bay laurel tree, one of the oldest herbs used in cookery

black tea

rich in tannins, highly astringent, good remedy for diarrhea, produced by allowing harvested leaf to wither and oxidize for several hours before the process is halted by firing (i.e., heating and drying out) the leaf; see Assam, Ceylon, Darjeeling, Nilgiri and Sikkim


elaichi or illaichi; (Elettaria cardamomum) green, white or black pods which contain black seeds, very aromatic when crushed, green pods are more aromatic than plumper, bleached white pods, green and white are generally used with sweet cooking, black is generally used for savory cooking, most prized spice after saffron, antispasmodic, digestive stimulant, eases flatulence, helpful for headaches


tejpatta; (Cinnamomum cassia) close relative to cinnamon, native to southern India and Sri Lanka

Ceylon tea

black Sri Lankan tea, brisk, full flavor, reddish-brown liquor, usually used in blends



chai masala

aromatic spice mix for chai




darchini or taj; (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) used in rolled sticks or powder from the inner bark of cinnamon trea, aromatic sweet and pleasant flavor, relieves nausea, flatulence and diarrhea, generally considered to be of better quality than cassia bark from C. cassia, a close relative


laving or lavang or laung; (Eugenia aromatica) wonderful aroma, used whole or powdered, antiseptic, antispasmodic, prevents nausea, may be chewed as a breath freshener


jeera or zeera; (Cuminum cyminum)


see cinnamon

Darjeeling tea

black Indian tea, very flavorful, most expensive, sought after, light reddish color to a bright gold liquor, astringency usually quite pronounced, aroma and flavor hint of almonds and wild flowers, good quality, considered 'self-drinker' by Indian government, i.e., tea worth drinking unblended




see cardamom

fennel seeds

variari or variyali, sauf or sonf; aromatic seeds, taste similar to anise seed, used whole, roasted seeds make a delicious mouth freshener and digestive

garam masala

highly aromatic blend of several dry roasted and ground 'warm' spices, often sprinkled over top of dishes that are almost finished cooking, originated in northern India, typical incredients: cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, coriander, cumin, black pepper, chilies, mace


see jaggery


adrak or adu (rhizome), soonth or sont (powdered); (Zingiber officinale) sharp taste, native to most of Asia, peel before using, eases a cold, brings warmth and settles stomach, cleansing effect on body, prevents nausea, improves appetit fourse and digestion


sweetener made from sap drained from various palm trees such as date, coconut or palmyra, used in eastern and southern India

Half & Half

brand name for a combination of half milk and half cream


see cardamom




ghoor; sweetener made from juice crushed out of sugar cane stalks, sold as hard or semi-soft pieces of unrefined cane sugar, color varies from light golden to dark brwon, flavor similar to molasses


see nutmeg


see mace


see cumin

kali mirac

see peppercorns


see saffron


see saffron

khas khas

khus khus or posta; (Papaver somniferum) white ripe seeds of the poppy plant used in India, usually toasted to bring out flavor, similar in flavor to the smaller than the blue-gray seeds used in the West

khus khus

see khas khas


see cloves


see cloves


see cloves


javitri; (Achillea decolorans) dried outside covering of nutmeg kernel, sharper, slightly bitter flavor, similar to nutmeg but stronger


granulated tea used in India, similar to tea fannings or dust


see peppercorns



milk (whole)

(I like the creaminess of Half & Half for chai)

Nilgiri tea

black Indian tea, very much like Ceylon tea, good quality, considered 'self-drinker' by Indian government, i.e., tea worth drinking unblended


jaiphal or zaiphal; (Myristica fragrans) aromatic nut, best used freshly crushed or grated, loses flavor rapidly in powdered form

Orange Pekoe

a term used for Ceylon black tea blend (most of the bagged tea that Americans drink is Indian and Ceylon black tea)


kali mirac or mari; used whole or powdered, black and white pepper comes from same shrub, instead of picking unripe berries and drying to produce black pepper, fruit is allowed to ripen then is soaked to remove dark outer skin producing white variety, milder, helps promote gastric secretions

poppy seeds

see khas khas


see khas khas


kesar or kesari or zafrani or zafran; (Crocus sativus) sweetish aromatic orange-colored dried stigmas of crocus flower, most expensive spice, available in powdered form, best when used in stigma form called threads or strands



sauf or saunf

see fennel

Sikkim tea

black Indian tea, similar to Darjeeling, less expensive




see ginger


see fennel

sont or sonth

see ginger


see cinnamon


ambli or imli; bean-like fruit, wonderful sweet/sour taste, used for chutneys, dips, cooking, when ripe is peeled, seeded, compressed into brick-like shapes


see cassia

tej patta

see bay leaf

tea, dust

bits and pieces of tea leaves left over from the sievings that separate out whole leaves and large pieces of leaves, infuses quickly, used in bags (most of the bagged tea that Americans drink is Indian and Ceylon black tea)

tea, fannings

slightly larger than tea dust, pieces of tea leaves left over from the sievings that separate out whole leaves and large pieces of leaves, infuses quickly, used in bags (most of the bagged tea that Americans drink is Indian and Ceylon black tea)

tea, loose

generally whole leaves, but because of their larger surface becomes stale more quickly


see cassia

tej pati

bay leaf


(Vanilla fragrans)


see fennel


see fennel

zafran or zafrani

see saffron


see nutmeg


see cumin