How to Make Authentic Chai

by Alice Currah on March 5, 2014


Do you drink chai? Do you call it chai tea? Or maybe you’ve ordered it at Starbucks and call it a chai latte.  For the love of my Uncle Hameed, please know that “chai” is another word for tea. And if you call chai, chai tea, or order a chai latte (which Starbucks does not add a shot of espresso) you are agreeing to conform to the masses and its acceptance of not knowing what you’re talking about.  I’m not judging you.  In fact, I used to call it chai tea myself. That is until Uncle Hameed, my husband’s uncle, schooled me.  Given the fact he is from Pakistan and drinks chai daily he would know a thing or two about tea.

Everything I want to say about chai I’ve already written about it here in my PBS Parents column.  The only fact I can add to this conversation is how much I love drinking chai. If I were five years old, I would marry chai.  Because when you’re that young, you want to marry everything you love.

Below is our latest PBS episode of Kitchen Explorers.  In this video Uncle Hameed shows me how to make proper chai and his gentle spirit will inspire you to make this popular tea at home. Hope you enjoy it.

How to Make Authentic Chai
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
How to Make Authentic Chai.
  • Assam tea
  • green cardamom pods, smashed
  • cinnamon sticks, broken
  • whole cloves, smashed
  • milk
  • sugar or other sweetener, to taste
  1. For the full recipe, please see Alice’s PBS Parent’s column here.


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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Lily (A Rhubarb Rhapsody) March 5, 2014 at 9:16 pm

Do I drink chai?! Pretty sure half of my body mass is chai. Embarrassingly, I’ve never made my own. I have all of those ingredients in my cupboard apart from the assam tea. I’m definitely going to pick some up and give this a go. :)


Josephine March 5, 2014 at 10:51 pm

Latte means milk, not coffee. So there would be no reason to expect espresso in a chai latte…


Alice March 5, 2014 at 11:02 pm

Josephine – I’m curious, latte is considered to be made from a shot of espresso and steamed milk. I know that in Spanish, leche means milk. When one orders a latte, it is generally assumed to include espresso. So although Starbucks has made chai lattes popular, masala chai is just tea with milk. But perhaps because there are tea flavors called “chai”, Starbucks may have added the latte aspect to it to offset the confusion.


Samantha March 6, 2014 at 9:21 pm

If you go to Asia (at least East Asia in my experience), latte just means the specific amount of steamed milk and foam. I’ve had green tea/black tea lattes, pumpkin latte, sweet potato lattes, blueberry lattes, as well as regular express varieties.


Jenny March 8, 2014 at 11:27 pm

I believe the full term for what we call “latte” is cafe latte, coffee and milk.


June March 6, 2014 at 11:17 pm

Thank you so much for the information and for the recipe!!!! Can’t wait to try my hand at making home made chai!!!!


Kira - HealthAble Old Soul March 8, 2014 at 8:39 pm

I love the explosive flavor of chai!


Betty|Mexican Timeshare Solutions March 12, 2014 at 5:20 pm

Amazing recipe, i love it, thanks for sharing!!


Sel March 12, 2014 at 7:38 pm

I agree that the term “chai tea” is redundant because “chai” = “tea”. But I think you missed one point in your explanation. Indians/Pakistanis drink tea in all sorts of forms, but the tea that is associated with being particularly Indian/Pakistani is the type of tea that mixes Assam with certain spices. If you want to order this tea/chai in a restaurant or in the country itself, there IS a special term for it: masala chai. Chai by itself will get you plain tea. Masala chai will get you “chai tea latte.”


Aqiyl Aniys March 16, 2014 at 2:56 pm

I haven’t had chai before . Looking at the nutritious ingredients I will like to try it. The cloves and cinnamon must wake your right up!


Annelise March 17, 2014 at 1:55 pm

I love chai and I look forward to trying this recipe!

BTW – I often order a “Dirty Chai” at Starbucks – it’s a chai latte with the espresso shot added. :)


Alice Currah March 21, 2014 at 12:58 pm

My husband brought me a dirty chai home yesterday thinking I would like it. Sadly, I didn’t. Did you hear Starbucks will be carrying an “Oprah Chai Tea” in the future? Uncle Hameed is going to have a fit.


Lauren March 20, 2014 at 12:14 am

Loved the video!


Alice Currah March 21, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Thanks Lauren. Hope all is well with you!


Stefanie March 27, 2014 at 6:22 pm

I’m also a card-carrying member of the Chai Fan Club. I once took a chai-blending class at a local tea shop. We were given countless bins filled with everything from spices to citrus peels to edible flowers to experiment with and each left with our own unique mix – it was heavenly.


Alice Currah April 1, 2014 at 2:04 am

The chai-blending class sounds AMAZING!


kita tea lover November 19, 2014 at 3:12 pm

this blog talking much about chai tea . plz tell me whats deferent between chai and tea ?


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