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My Chai Tea Brings all the People to the House

With the chilly weather, a mug of masala chai warms the soul, and fills the home with goodness. There are a variety of holiday drinks – from eggnog to hot chocolate, but my winter drink of choice is a cup of chai with a heavy hand of cardamom.

When I have company, I like to impress them with homemade chai. I can tweak the amount of sugar and spices to my preference – the advantage over using an instant mix. Chai has become my signature – I’ve given multiple lessons as per friends’ requests, and had even received an inquiry to make a pitcher if one provides the milk.

For the last few years, my family has gotten together for dinner to celebrate Christmas and my grandmother’s birthday. This year will be the third Christmas without my grandmother, but in her honor, all of us young ones continue to find the opportunity to come together.

This Christmas, my family will be hosting after dinner dessert. I will be serving chai to accompany the baked goodies. A good cup of tea always brings people together. What will you be serving this holiday season?

Chai Tea


  • 4 cups of whole milk
  • 2 cups of water
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of whole cardamom pod
  • 6 cloves, whole
  • 6-8 slices of ginger, smashed
  • 4-6 teaspoons of assam tea
  • 1 tsp of tea masala
  • Pantry spices*

*Pantry spices: Use the spices you have on hand in your pantry. It’s not essential to get every single item. Chai can be as simple as with cardamon as the only spice, or ginger as the only spice. If you have cinnamon feel free to throw it in. I often throw in a few peppercorns and a cinnamon stick for good measures.

Crush whole spices (cardamom, cloves). Combine milk, water, sugar, ginger, cardamom and cloves and put on medium heat. Stir occasionally until it comes to a boil. Add tea and turn off heat. Add in grounded spices (tea masala, cinnamon, ground clove). Let the spice and tea meld for 5 minutes. Ladle through sieve.

Proportion of water to milk can vary. My preference is two part milk to one part water using whole milk. With skim milk, I would use all milk and no water. Others prefer their chai to be more indulgent by using all whole milk and no added water.

Whole spices are placed into the liquid at the beginning to infuse and draw out the flavors. Ground spice can easily be cooked out, and therefore added at the end.

Additional Chai Recipes and Resources :

10 years ago I could not find a decent chai recipe online, but today, there are many good recipes posted online. It’s readily available and a common place in both Starbucks and the American household.

I think of chai as yummy delicious goodness – but the history of chai is much more complex, one that is intertwined with colonialism and power dynamics. I have an interest in both the history of tea and the workings of the current tea market – from cultivation, to labor, tea auction, and how tea plays a role in the local and world economy. Any suggestions on good reads?

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