Also known as "chai tea," masala chai is a blend of spices, tea, sugar and milk from India. Popular chai spices include cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, ginger and black pepper, but chai recipes vary widely across India, and there are many Americanized adaptations of masala chai that have spun off new and innovative chai recipes.
This collection of chai recipes is a cross-section of the world of masala chai. It features some of the best chai recipes on About.com, including recipes for Kashmiri chai and caffeine-free chai, as well as a step-by-step photo tutorial for how to make masala chai from scratch.
This step-by-step photo tutorial explains how to get a bold, spicy, creamy flavor without making your chai too tannic / bitter or adding too much sugar. The basic principles for simmering chai used in this recipe can easily be applied to other recipes in the list or to your own chai recipes.
For more step-by-step instructions for making chai, check out this chai video recipe from Natasha Levitan.
In India, masala chai is especially popular in the northeastern district of Kashmir. There, saffron, roses and almonds are abundant, and green tea is more popular than black tea. For that reason, masala chai recipes often feature ingredients like saffron threads, rose petals, slivered almonds and green tea. This Kashmiri chai recipe includes saffron, powdered almonds (for ease of preparation), cardamom and cinnamon. You can opt to use green or black tea.
Vanilla is not a traditional masala chai spice, but it is a very popular flavor in Americanized chai recipes. This vanilla chai recipe gets its vanilla flavor from a piece of vanilla bean that is simmered with allspice, cloves and cinnamon stick. I highly recommend this recipe to newer chai drinkers and fans of coffeehouses' flavored chais, such as vanilla chai, chocolate chai or mint chai.
Cardamom, ginger, black pepper and ginger give this naturally caffeine-free chai variation and bold, spicy flavor. This recipe can be prepared with or without milk or a milk alternative like soy milk or almond milk, and with or without honey, agave nectar or other sweeteners.
Other caffeine-free chai recipes include Caffeine-Free Moon Chai and Caffeine-Free Dandelion Chai. Both of these recipes contain many herbs and spices, so I recommend blending them in a larger batch in advance and using them as needed.
This chai recipe calls for green tea instead of black tea. It has a brighter, more refreshing flavor than many chai recipes, even though it has a fairly large amount of milk for a green tea recipe. Cinnamon, cloves and ginger give Spicy Milk Tea its characteristic "chai" flavor.
This recipe makes a fairly large batch of chai -- it serves four.
This easy chai recipe is great for beginners. It contains classic chai spices ("nothing too exotic" says the recipe's creator, Sean Paajanen) and a lower level of milk and sugar than most chai recipes.
Similarly, Sean's Four-Spice Chai Recipe is easy to prepare and to enjoy for "chai tea" newbies and masala chai aficionados alike.
This delicious, traditional masala chai recipe from About.com's Indian Food guide, Petrina Verma Sarkar, serves two people. Like this Chai Tea with Fennel Recipe, it has a licorice-like flavor from fennel or aniseed.
This all-organic chai martini recipe was the winner of the November/December 2010 "Holiday Tea Cocktail"-themed tea recipe contest. It is high in flavor and naturally caffeine free. Yum!
Although it isn't a drink, this Chai Frosting Recipe is one of the most popular "chai" recipes on the site. It combines pure vanilla extract, ground spices and chai concentrate for an unusual frosting flavor that's fantastic on cupcakes, cookies (such as these Chocolate-Chai Cookies) and other sweets. Try it as part of an avant-garde tea party menu.