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Masala Chai

This warming beverage is easy to prepare by steeping spices in hot water and milk before adding black tea. It's not as milky as the chai often sold at American coffee bars; to make it richer, add more milk and sugar to taste.

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  • Servings: MAKES ABOUT 4 CUPS

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  • 4 whole cloves
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons black tea, such as Darjeeling or Orange Pekoe


  1. In a mortar, crush the cloves, cardamom pods and cinnamon. Transfer the crushed spices to a small saucepan, add the water, ginger and pepper and bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat, cover and let steep for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the milk and sugar to the pan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the tea. Cover and let steep for 3 minutes. Stir the chai, then strain it into a warmed teapot or directly into teacups.


Chai, a traditional Indian tea, blends black tea with sweet, heady spices, like cardamom, cinnamon and cloves with milk. While many people make chai with liquid concentrates, it's better and more pungent when made with loose tea and whole spices.

Contributed By Photo © Zubin Schroff Published February 1999

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