How to Make Authentic Chai

chai spices How to Make Authentic Chai

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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  1. says

    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. :)

    • Alice says

      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.

      • says

        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.

  2. June says

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

  3. Sel says

    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.”

  4. Annelise says

    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. :)

    • says

      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.

  5. says

    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.

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