This black chai masala tea recipe was originally shared with us by Chef Jason Wyrick, back when he published The Vegan Culinary Experience. He uses a classic range of whole spices to create an authentic, fragrant, and flavorful tea. Though he does use Darjeeling black tea, you can choose decaffeinated, or even enjoy this as a white or herbal tea.
Black Chai Masala Tea – A Creamy Brew with Authentic Spices
Like many Indian foods, this black chai masala tea is full of small amounts of lots of spices. This combination creates a very complex brew, where no single spice stands out over the others. The pepper and the ginger provie spiciness, while the cloves, fennel, and cardamom lend a strong aromatic quality. Oddly enough, because the spices in this tea are so strong, the cinnamon serves to mellow it out! Note that the spices are boiled first to infuse the tea with their intense flavor and to keep infusing it as the tea steeps. The black tea is added at the end because if it cooks too long, it gets bitter.
Serve this in about an 8-ounce cup. It’s large enough that you won’t skimp on the chai, but not so large that you end up serving too much chai (too much chai can be overwhelming.) I like a light colored cup with flared edges or a colored glass, again with flared edges. But, nothing beats a simple mug on a cool day.
Complementary Food and Drinks
Of course, you can enjoy this black chai masala tea as a Starbucks alternative to perk up your morning, or warm up in the afternoon. But it’s also fun to serve with Indian food! A good suggestion is to serve this with a mild korma or with veggies (eggplant is a good choice) in a rich tomato sauce. Avoid spicy foods with this beverage you don’t like a lot of heat. The chai tea is spicy itself and will make spicy foods even spicier!
The longer the spices brew, the better, so if you have time, allow the spices to sit for an hour or two before adding in the black tea. The black tea is the ingredient in this drink that shouldn’t be brewed any longer than for what the recipes calls.
Special Diet Notes: Black Chai Masala Tea
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, grain-free, optionally nut-free, peanut-free, optionally soy-free, vegan, plant-based, vegetarian, optionally paleo, and generally top food allergy-friendly.
- 2 ½ cups water
- 12 whole cloves
- 6 black or green cardamom pods
- 6 black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon fennel seed
- 1 small piece ginger root, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 (6-inch) cinnamon stick
- 2 tablespoons Darjeeling (black) tea (can use decaffeinated)
- 2 cups unsweetened dairy-free creamer or milk beverage (see Creamer note below)
- 2 tablespoons agave nectar or honey, or to taste
- Pour the water into a small saucepan.
- Put the fennel seed, cardamom, cloves, and peppercorns in a large tea ball. (See below for tea ball alternative.) Place the tea ball in the saucepan. Add the ginger and cinnamon stick.
- Put the saucepan over medium-high heat and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and let it boil for 5 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat, and let the tea steep for 10 minutes or longer. The longer you let it sit, the better it gets.
- Bring the water back to a boil, add the tea, reduce the heat to low, and let the tea simmer for 5 minutes.
- Remove the tea ball, and strain the masala chai to remove the tea, ginger, and cinnamon.
- Return the tea to your saucepan, and stir in the creamer and sweetener.
Creamer Alternatives: You can use a dairy-free barista milk, or your favorite milk alternative for this tea. Soymilk goes very well with masala chai, but some prefer almond milk or coconut milk. If using milk beverage, instead of creamer, warm it slightly before adding to the tea to help avoid curdling. If you don't want a creamy finish, add hot water until the chai is diluted to your desired spiciness.
Single Serving Option: Once you've brewed the masala chai, pour a scant ⅔ cup into your mug, and stir in ½ tablespoon sweetener and ½ cup creamer or milk beverage. Store the remaining masala chai in an container in the refrigerator. It will keep for a week or so.