DIY Chai

  • Details
  • Related Items

chaiThe chai teas from India are legendary, and the warm aroma of simmering spices will instantly transport you there. Like many great slow-foods, the perfect cup of chai can’t be reduced to an “instant” occurrence. The assembly of essential ingredients (spices, tea, milk and sweetener) just doesn’t lend itself to short-cuts if you want full flavor. The good news is- it’s easy! And doesn’t require a plane ticket.

The first tip for making really tasty chai is starting with whole spices and loose tea. These already have more flavor potential than the powders found in tea bags because when spices and tea are ground up, they lose flavor more quickly. Next, make sure to use boiling water, and a pot or pan that will allow the water to circulate freely around the spices and tea. The boiling water extracts the most flavor from the spices and tea, and the more freely it circulates- the more flavor you get. Using these starting points as a guide- just simmer, steep and strain and you’ll have a great brew. Read on for more particulars….


Classic Indian chai is made with black tea, strong spices, whole milk and quite a lot of sweetener. The spices and tea are simmered on the stove top and then strained, and warm milk and sugar are added. This is a great brew, but not my idea of a perfect cup because of the excess of sweet. Often the reason for the excessive sweetener is to mask the bitterness of boiled tea. The sweetener tones that down. There are several ways around this but the easiest is to simply brew the spices and tea in stages. Here’s how we like to do it….

  • First crack the whole chai spices in a mortar & pestle. This helps them release maximum flavor into the brew.
  • Then simmer the spices gently for 3-5 minutes in a small saucepan- this brings out all their glorious flavor.
  • Then add the tea and remove the pan from heat. Cover, and allow the tea to steep an additional 3-4 minutes.
  • Strain the brew and add warm milk and sweetener to taste!

One convenience we like is to transfer the mixture to a French press pot for the final steeping because it makes the straining easy! How much spice and how much tea? Start with 1-2 teaspoons of spice per cup of water, and 1-2 teaspoons of tea for the second stage. If this sounds strong, remember- you’ll be adding milk as well.

The beauty of this DIY Chai is that you can customize it in so many ways to suit your taste. Traditional chai spices include cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, pepper and clove but don’t stop there. We’ve tried everything from star anise and fennel, to coriander and orange peel with great success. The spice possibilities are endless. We keep our bestsellers, Classic Chai and Roast Chai, on hand year round. You can also switch up the proportion of spices and tea to highlight one or the other.


When it comes to selecting a black tea to go into your chai, Assam is our hands-down favorite. The bold flavor stands up well to the spices and makes the perfect base. If you want to try an herbal to avoid caffeine, Rooibos is an excellent choice, too. It also provides a solid base and unlike black teas does not become bitter with longer steeping times, so you can simmer or steep without that bitter edge creeping in.

You’ll also find several varieties to choose from for the last two essential ingredients- milk and sweetener- and let your own preference be your guide. We make our World Spice Classic with whole milk and honey. Whether you like it spicy or sweet, taking the time to make chai fills the house with intoxicating aromas- it’s the quickest trip to India you’ll ever take. Enjoy.

Tagged with:


  1. Genna says:

    I was taught to bloom the spices first in a pan with a touch of ghee or butter before adding the boiling water and tea to steep. The flavor is amazing and needs much less sweeting when you add the milk.

  2. Aubrey says:

    Good Morning. Can you make the classic chai without ginger at a customers requedt. My wife is allergic to ginger. If you can then I need to place a large order. You can add additional cinnamon that she loves. I just love maki g and bringing her homemade chai latte to her in bed.

    This would be a very nice Valentine gift.

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Aubrey- so sorry we missed this request. I’ll shoot you an email. We can do the custom chai but I don’t think we can make it in time for the holiday 🙁

  3. Drang says:

    Chia spices? Or chai…?


  4. Vicki says:

    I know this is an old post but can rooibos chai be brewed twice, or is it one and done like a black tea?

    • Sherrie says:

      It’s not strong enough to brew a second time and still have good, bold flavor. Rooibos on its own would be fine brewed a second time, but not with the spices added to it. It would taste severely watered down.

Add a Comment

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.


The Perfect Cup: Herbal Tea

If you’re looking for a tea that isn’t tea, go herbal! All true tea comes from the same plant, Camellia sinensis, whereas herbal tisanes, also called herbal teas, are made from all manner of herbs …

The Perfect Cup….

Tea is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world, ceding the top spot only to water, and it’s not hard to see why. There are many delicious varieties of tea, ranging in …