Just a quick personal note on this one: I spent 6 months in Kolkata, India. While I was there, I was so in love with the chai-wallahs and watched them everyday, while enjoying the delicious masala chai of course! This recipe is one that was given to me by one of the vendors (who spoke very broken English, so it is not as perfect as I like!). The key is the star-anise and the vanilla bean powder- it gives it that licorice sweetness that I remember so well! It is not your typical chai, as most chai blends have ginger- but if you are a fan of ginger, feel free to add. This is a base recipe that you modify to your desires after you get the hang of it! 


  • 2 c. Water
  • 2 c. Milk
  • 4-5 pods Whole Cardamon
  • Whole Black Pepper- 10-12 peppercorns
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 Whole Star Anise pods
  • 4-5 whole cloves 
  • Dash of vanilla bean powder (optional, but tasty)
  • Sugar or honey, to taste ( I use 1/4c sugar or 4 tbs honey)
  • 4 bags of your favorite black tea. Red Rooibos is also FANTASTIC for a caffeine-free option.



1. Using a mortar and pestle, hand grind all the spices together. Tip: The cardamon like to pop out, so I place my hand over the mortar while crushing with the pestle to keep away from messes. 

2. Add the spices to a medium pot. Add the water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes. 

3. Add the milk and sugar/honey and bring back to a simmer. 

4. Add the tea bags and let simmer for 4-5 minutes.

5. Strain into a teacup and enjoy! I use a hand strainer, but you can also pour the tea via a pour-over method (IE: Chemex), through a tea pot made for loose-leaf tea, or a french press. 

This makes enough for 3-4 cups of tea, depending on your cup size!