My perfect Chai recipe

Despite being Indian, I’m a relative latecomer to chai. I only developed a taste for it at some point in my mid-twenties. Perhaps living away from India for at least half a dozen years at that point had something to do with it.

At any rate, over the next half a dozen years or so I searched for the perfect chai recipe. I started with my mom’s recipe and continuously tweaked it over the years, drawing on advice from friends, relatives and strangers on YouTube.

And I think I’ve finally found it, my perfect chai recipe.

Here it is, for anyone interested:

Serving size: 1 cup (240 ml)

Ingredients (makes 1 serving)

  • Water, 1 cup (240 ml)
  • Ginger root, 10 g
  • Cardamom, 4 pods
  • Loose leaf black tea, 2 tsp
  • Milk, 1/4 cup (60 ml)
  • Sugar, to taste


  1. Place a pot on your stove and add the water to it. Do not turn on the heat just yet.
  2. Grate the ginger into the water.
  3. Gently crush the cardamom pods so they open up slightly, exposing the seeds within. Then add the crushed pods to the water.
  4. Add the tea to the water.
  5. Turn on the heat and bring the mixture to a boil.
  6. Once the mixture boils, turn the heat to medium and add the milk.
  7. Bring the mixture to a boil again, while keeping the heat on medium. If the mixture doesn’t come to a boil within a couple of minutes, feel free to turn the heat up to medium-high.
  8. Once the mixture boils, it will start to rise in the pot. As soon as you notice the rising, lift the pot off the stove and gently swirl its contents until they settle back down.
  9. Put the pot back on the stove. Repeat steps 7 through 9 two more times (for a total of 4 boils — 1 without the milk and 3 with the milk in the mixture).
  10. Turn off the heat and let the mixture sit for 5 minutes to cool down a bit. This step is optional if you like your chai scalding hot.
  11. Finally, pour the mixture into the cup through a strainer, add and mix sugar per your taste, and enjoy your perfect chai!

Thanks to my mom; several friends including, most recently, Nandita and Umesh; and several YouTube videos such as this one.

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