Masala Chai

  • Serves

    serves 4


This extravagantly spiced black tea, infused with ginger, clove, cardamom, cinnamon, and black pepper, is a staple in northeast India. It is often served on city streets by vendors, who hawk the hot steaming beverage from makeshift metal trays. This recipe first appeared in the tablet edition of our August/September 2014 special India issue with the story The Love of Tea.


  • 1 tsp. fennel seeds
  • 8 pods green cardamom
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 1 stick cinnamon, halved
  • 1 (1") piece ginger, peeled and crushed
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 34 cup sugar
  • 6 black tea bags
  • 1 sprig mint


Step 1

Heat a 4-qt. saucepan over medium-high. Cook fennel seeds, cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon until lightly toasted and fragrant, 1–2 minutes. Let cool slightly and transfer to a spice grinder; grind into a powder and return to pan. Add ginger and 4 cups water; boil. Stir in milk, sugar, tea bags, and mint; remove from heat and let steep 6 minutes. Strain into glasses; serve hot.

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