Upgrade your chai game with this deliciously fragrant masala chai concentrate recipe. Combine with milk for classic chai or use as a base for lattes.
What is Masala Chai?
Masala chai means mixed spice tea and is a popular beverage in South Asia. The tea is made by brewing a mixture of black tea, milk, spices and sugar. Masala means spice in Hindi and chai means tea. The addition of aromatic herbs and spices creates to tea turns chai into masala chai.
What is Masala Chai Concentrate?
Masala chai concentrate is created by boiling black loose tea and a mixture of spices. The resulting liquid tastes like an very strong, fragrant tea and is used as a base for other beverages like classic milk chai which we will make in this recipe, and modern beverages like Starbuck's Iced Chai Latte with Pumpkin Cold Foam. Masala chai concentrate is supposed has strong flavors so that the delicious flavor and fragrance is not lost after the addition of other ingredients.
Why make homemade masala chai concentrate?
Below are my favorite reason for always making masala chai concentrate from scratch:
- You can customize the flavor and spice intensity. By making your own chai concentrate at home, you can, like many households in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, adjust the type and proportion of tea leaves and spices to suit your preference.
- It tastes fresher and more aromatic than pre-packaged versions. Having control over the quality of ingredients, such as the type of tea leaves and freshly ground spices ensures a richer flavor experience.
- Its a relaxing and comforting ritual. Drinking a cup of freshly brewed masala tea is a soothing and meditative process. In fact millions of South Asians swear by its wonderfully restorative effects.
- Its a delightful social experience. "Putting on the kettle" to make a cup of tea is a quick and easy way to welcome a friend and mark the beginning of a memorable moment.
Ingredients - Masala Chai Concentrate
- Black tea leaves: Tea provides the base of masala chai's robust flavor and caffeine content. Since the tea is brewed with a multitude of whole spices that overwhelm subtle tea flavors we recommend not using expensive fragrant tea like oolong or orange pekoe. The tea leaves in this recipe can be substituted with four black tea bags like English Breakfast tea. Other types of tea such as green tea, herbal and fruit teas while not traditionally used in masala chai, but can be used if desired to build a uniquely flavored concentrate. Note that subtle flavors could be lost if stronger liquids like whole milk or cream are added.
- Spice blend: The spice blend for masala chai varies both by and also by household. This masala chai concentrate contains fresh ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and a bay leaf. Other spices used in masala chai include black peppercorns, fennel seeds and star anise.
- Cold water: Every single chai drinker that I have met agrees that starting the tea making process by boiling cold water makes the best tea. There is something about microwaved water or hot tap water that kills the flavor.
Additional ingredients - For Classic Chai with Milk
- Evaporated Milk: Milk for classic chai is traditionally made by reducing whole milk by simmering it for hours. In this recipe we use canned evaporated whole milk to save time. You can also use the milk of your choice such as low-fat milk, coconut milk, soy milk, oat milk, and almond milk. Note that using lighter milk products may just dilute the chai concentrate instead of adding more flavor. While using different types of milk, add a small amount at a time, as too much milk can also ruin the balance of flavors in the tea.
- Sugar: Authentic masala chai is traditionally sweetened with white granulated cane sugar because it is widely available and the cheapest option in South Asia. However, honey, brown sugar, maple syrup, coconut sugar, or other types of sweeteners can also be used based on your own personal preference. I recently tried artificial sweetener (Splenda) in my masala chai and was surprised to discover that the tea made with sugar was tastier with more rounded, full bodied "notes."
How to make this Masala Chai Concentrate Recipe
Step One: Add the cold water, crushed clove, crushed cardamom pods, cinnamon, bay leaf and ginger to a small pot. Boil on medium heat for about 4 minutes.
Step Two: Add the tea and bring to a vigorous boil. Boil for 4 minutes. If not making classic chai at this point, strain the tea, cool and refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to use.
To make classic chai with milk
Step Three: Add the sugar and evaporated milk. Boil for 4 minutes. The tea will turn from being light brown to a rosy-brown color.
Step Four: Strain. Serve immediately.
Tips to make the best chai concentrate
- Choose quality ingredients: Start with whole fresh spices, fresh ginger, and good-quality black tea.
- Personalize the spices: Adjust the spice blend to your preference. Experiment with the ratio of ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves to achieve your desired level of spiciness and flavors.
- Use freshly ground spices: Whenever possible, grind whole spices just before use. Freshly ground spices release more flavor and aroma.
- Use cold tap water: Cold tap water contains more oxygen than hot water. As a result the tea tastes better. We strongly recommend not using hot tap water because it was already heated and could also contain debris from the tank.
- Brewing time: Masala chai is supposed to be boiled with the tea for a while. It is much hotter than regular tea. You do not steep the tea in hot water like regular tea. Authentic masala chai is brewed for hours by street vendors and the tea is so hot that customers often pour it into their saucers and blow on it so that it is cool enough to drink.
- Milk Ratio: Balance the tea-to-milk ratio according to your preference. Too little milk will make the tea taste bitter, while too much will ruin it. While the ideal color for masala chai is a rosy brown as shown in the picture below, adjust the milk and therefore the color of the tea to your preference as you are the one drinking it.
Upgrading your masala chai
Chai lovers upgrade their tea by adding a spoonful of clotted cream called "shor' in Bengali. Shor is the glossy layer of clotted cream that floats on top of milk which has been simmered for hours until it reduces to a thicker consistency with a rosy hue. In South Asia, shor is sold as a gourmet topping by tea vendors and considered a special treat when served at home.
To make shor, simmer whole-milk on low heat for several hours, stirring with a wooden spoon until the milk has a light pink-brown hue and there is a layer of shiny clotted cream on top. If you are going to make this, remember the milk should be heated at very low heat. Stir often so that the milk does not burn. This is a very long, and time-consuming process, but the results are absolutely worth it.
Difference between masala chai and regular tea
Regular tea depends completely on the flavor of the tea. Masala chai tastes of tea but also includes a blend of aromatic spices, giving it a more complex flavor profile.
Can I make masala chai concentrate ahead of time?
Yes, you can make masala chai concentrate ahead of time, especially if you want to have it readily available for convenience.
Prepare a concentrated masala chai by brewing the tea with spices - do not add the milk and sweetener. Strain the liquid and discard the spices and tea leaves. Allow the tea to cool completely, then store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use. Masala chai concentrate will last in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.
Storage and Freezer Instructions
Refrigerator: Prepare concentrated masala chai by brewing the tea with spices (without adding milk or sweetener). Strain the liquid and discard the spices and tea leaves. Allow the tea to cool completely, then store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 3-5 days.
Freezer: Prepare the masala chai concentrate and allow it to cool to room temperature. If desired, divide the cooled chai into smaller portions using freezer-safe containers or ice cube trays for individual servings. Label each container with the date of preparation. Place the sealed containers or trays in the freezer. The frozen brewed tea will last for about 3 months in the freezer.
To thaw, remove the desired portion of chai ice cubes from the freezer and let it thaw in the refrigerator or at room temperature. This may take a few hours or overnight, depending on the portion size. Once thawed bring the tea to a boil, then add milk and sugar as directed by the recipe.
What to serve with Classic Masala Chai
What to Serve with Masala Chai:
Masala chai, with its rich, spiced flavors, pairs wonderfully with a variety of savory snacks and sweet treats. Traditional accompaniments include plain biscuits which are dunked in the tea before being eaten and 'moori', a puffed rice which you pour directly into the tea to soak, then eat with a spoon. Other delicious accompaniments include cakes, samosas, sandwiches, and fruit.
Great sweet treats to try with masala chai include our Old Fashioned Pound Cake, Banana Bread, Cheese Cake, and Chocolate Mousse Cake. Savory treats that go really well with masala chai include our Chicken and Shrimp Wontons, Air Fryer Pita Chips and Wonton Shrimp Tacos.
- Masala Chai Latte is simply masala chai concentrate poured over ice with sugar and a splash of half and half milk.
- Starbucks Chai Latte with Pumpkin Cold Foam is one of our top recipes and is an excellent recipe to try in the Fall. It consists of masala chai over ice with a large dollop of pumpkin cold foam.
- Dirty Chai Latte includes frothy steamed milk and a shot of espresso.
A single serving of this masala chai has about 44 calories, 1.2g of fat and 7.6g of carbohydrates. The masala chai concentrate contains a negligible amount of calories.
This recipe yields approximately two servings. The nutrition guidance is intended for informational purposes only. Please use it as a general guideline. If the nutrition information is important to you, you should independently verify it using your preferred tool.
Masala chai concentrate is made up of water, Indian black tea, and a mix of crushed spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, fennel seeds, and star anise.
Starbuck's masala chai concentrate recipe consists of an infusion of water, black tea, black pepper, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, cane sugar, honey, ginger juices, vanilla extract, citric acid and natural flavors.
The main difference between masala chai tea and regular chai tea is the addition of spices such as ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, bay leaf, and star anise.
Masala chai is a sweet, milk-based, aromatic beverage that is very popular in South Asia. It translates to "spiced tea," and is made by brewing black tea leaves and milk with a mixture of aromatic whole spices. Masala chai is known for its fragrance, rosy-brown color and warming flavors and is often enjoyed as a comforting, restorative drink. Masala chai concentrate does not include milk.
The type, amount, and proportion of spices used to make masala chai can vary widely as the spice blend is often customized based on personal preference. Common spices used to make masala chai include fresh ginger, cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and black peppercorns.
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How to Make Perfect Homemade Masala Chai Concentrate
Masala chai concentrate
- 1 Tablespoon loose black tea 8 grams or 4 teabags
- 2 ½ cups cold water
- 1 Tablespoon fresh ginger chopped, 8 grams
- 2 cardamom pods crushed
- 1 clove crushed
- 1 cinnamon about 1 inch
- 1 bay leaf
To make classic chai
- ¼ cup evaporated milk
- 1 Tablespoon white granulated sugar to taste
To make masala chai concentrate
- Add the cold water, crushed clove, crushed cardamom pods, cinnamon, bay leaf and ginger to a small pot. Bring to a boil on medium heat for about 4 minutes.
- Add the tea and bring to a vigorous boil. Boil for 4 minutes. If not making classic chai, strain the tea at this point, cool and refrigerate in an airtight container.
To make classic chai with milk
- Add the evaporated milk. Boil for 4 minutes.
- Strain and add sugar to taste. Serve immediately.