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Chai Tea Ingredients: What’s Actually In A Cup of Masala Chai

Chai Tea Ingredients: What’s Actually In A Cup of Masala Chai

Posted on August 21 2023, By: Patricia Cruz

Chai Tea Ingredients: What’s Actually In A Cup of Masala Chai

Do you ever wonder what chai tea ingredients are? Maybe you’re in the market for a chai tea concentrate and don’t want to miss out on any key ingredients but you don’t exactly know what you’re supposed to be looking for. Or maybe you’d like to start making masala chai from scratch so you can learn the process of making Indian chai tea and use all-natural ingredients instead of using processed ingredients. 

When you learn the chai tea recipe, you can also start making your own chai tea concentrate recipe to save on days when you want some ready on the go. You’ll most likely find making homemade chai is so easy, relaxing, and cheap that you no longer not opt for the store-bought option and the chai latte from your favorite cafe won’t cut it anymore. 

In this blog, you’ll find out about all the chai tea spices, their health benefits, and how to make chai tea from scratch!

sifting the spices from masala chai before being served

Chai Tea Origin

Before India even became a powerhouse in exporting black tea by cultivating it across its different regions, spiced tea has been used for ayurvedic purposes by royalty for thousands of years. During the British occupation of India, locals didn’t necessarily drink black tea because it was costly. After all, black tea back when tea wasn’t cultivated in India yet was exported from China. When the British East India Company tried to encourage locals to start drinking tea, street vendors would incorporate milk and spices to cut costs and thus, masala chai was born. Essentially, chai tea ingredients call for black tea, milk, and a mix of spices that enhance the flavor of the beverage. 

There isn’t a set or single recipe to make masala chai as it varies throughout different regions in India. Each family has their own masala chai recipe too just like the founders of Chai Up who recently launched their Masala Chai Tea Powder Mix based on their family’s very own recipe. You can also create your own chai spice blend recipe depending on how strong or mild you want your masala chai to be. You need only learn the essential chai tea ingredients and you can tweak it to your heart’s desire. There’s no right or wrong way to make masala chai, which is partly the beauty of it. It’s easier to make than you would think and it has so many great benefits as well.

an iced chai tea latte

Is Masala Chai The Same As A Chai Tea Latte?

Their premise is quite similar and the chai tea lattes you’re used to ordering essentially have a similar ingredients list to masala chai. If you check the ingredients of a chai tea latte from Starbucks, the famous coffee house, it lists cinnamon and cloves along with other “warming” spices as main ingredients along with black tea, your choice of milk, and sweeteners. The main difference between big coffee houses that offer chai tea lattes and authentic masala chai is that they usually use chai concentrates. Authentic masala chai uses natural ingredients and spices that are ground before use. A chai concentrate is a thick liquid made of tea, spices, and sweeteners so only the milk is added before being served. In order to fulfill the demand, these chai concentrates are also loaded with preservatives so they can last longer in storage. 

If you love chai tea lattes, there are also recipes you can follow to make your own concentrate from home which would be a much healthier alternative. Besides saving money, you’ll also learn how easy it is to make and it’ll be much closer to the original masala chai recipe. 

a cup of masala chai surrounded by the spice blend used to make it


Chai Tea Ingredients: Every Component Needed For The Perfect Cup of Chai

On their own, the chai tea ingredients are versatile and can make or break any dish or beverage. Together, they create the perfect blend we know and love as masala chai. 

Whether you’re looking to learn how to make authentic Indian masala chai or want to make a healthier alternative to your favorite chai tea lattes without breaking the bank, all you need to do is gather up all these chai tea ingredients for an authentic chai tea recipe

Black Tea

Black tea is an essential ingredient in masala chai because it is the base. If you really want to go the authentic route, you’re going to want to get your hands on some Assam black tea. It’s a type of black tea that is only grown in the Assam region in India but any kind of black tea will work just as well if you’re in a pinch. You can use loose-leaf tea or even tea bags as long as they’re black. 

It’s best to use black tea when making masala chai because it has a deeper and bolder flavor profile that blends in perfect harmony with the spices, milk, and sugar without being diluted or lost in the mix. It stands strong on its own which makes it the perfect foundation for all the other chai tea ingredients

Black tea also has a greater caffeine content that doesn’t produce palpitating or anxiety-inducing effects the way coffee does. For people looking to get caffeinated, masala chai is perfect because it provides the same warm and comforting feeling as coffee does without leaving you feeling all jittery after. That’s why masala chai is best to drink in the morning or even in the afternoon as a little pick-me-up. It’ll give you that quick energy boost and you can still sleep soundly even if you drink chai a little more later in the day.

It also makes sense to use black tea because that’s precisely what is being cultivated across various regions in India. Making everything about masala chai truly authentically Indian. 


One of the best parts of making your own masala chai is getting to choose what sweetener to add. Some people would rather steer clear of processed sugar for health reasons and want a better alternative. To make masala chai, there’s no right or wrong way to sweeten your tea. You can use white or brown sugar, honey, stevia, or even maple syrup. If you’re not into sweet drinks, you can even opt out of sweeteners entirely. 

Because masala chai incorporates a little bit of spice, what makes the concoction so balanced is the addition of sweeteners. Depending on the recipe you follow, masala chai can be strong and overwhelming. Drinking strong masala chai can quite literally warm your insides because of the strong spices and herbs that enhance the black tea. 

Adding sugar or your preferred sweeteners in making masala chai can mellow out some of the heat from the spices. Making your masala chai a little sweet creates the perfect duality between sweetness and spiciness, essentially catering to everyone’s preferred tastes. Sugar in this sense works like salt when added to food because it enhances all the other flavor profiles. Sweeteners do this and work harmoniously well amongst all the herbs, spices, and black tea. Besides the usual sweeteners, jaggery, a type of traditional Indian sweetener that is made from sugarcane, is mostly used in masala chai for that authentic flavor. 

There’s also some cultural significance to adding sweeteners to your masala chai. It is said that sweetness is a desirable flavor profile in India where masala chai comes from. Because of its sweet nature, masala chai is the best drink to bond over or serve to guests as a little treat when they visit your home. But of course, everyone has their own preference when it comes to sweetness which is why regardless of what is truly authentic, masala chai is what you make it to be so feel free to add as much or as little sweetness as you’d like. 


Just like the sweeteners, you have the option to use whatever kind of milk that best suits your dietary needs. Some people are lactose intolerant so they can use soy, almond, or oat milk as alternatives. You can also use dairy milk in any of its forms. Whether you like non-fat, full-fat, skim, or even evaporated milk, it will still enrich the flavor of your masala chai. But you can also completely opt out of it, leaving only black tea and spices. 

Milk is best added to masala chai because it makes the drink more creamy and provides a silky texture to the drink. It almost creates a velvety texture that makes masala chai so much more rich. Just like the sugar balances out the spices, the milk also mellows out the strong and bold flavors of black tea and the spiciness of the herbs. 

Using milk also adds an added nutritional value to the drink making masala chai more satisfying. That’s why drinking masala chai can oftentimes make you feel full because of its packed nutritional value thanks to the addition of milk. 

Because the climate in India can be a little hot, people often wonder how masala chai (which is usually served hot) is still such a popular drink. That’s actually all thanks to the addition of milk that doesn’t just mellow out the spices but also the actual temperature of the drink. That’s why you can often see chai wallahs or masala chai street vendors selling out on such hot drinks because it allows for people to enjoy the drink without scalding, burning, or waiting until the drink is cooler to be drunk. 

cinnamon sticks, star anise, and a spoon of black loose-leaf tea

The Spices

The stars of the show, or rather masala chai, are the aromatic blend of spices that really create such a unique flavor profile that simply can’t be replicated by any other drink. If you search online for how to make chai tea, you’ll get varying recipes, each one having its own unique spice blend. Depending on the region the recipes come from, you might have some spices added or removed. Not all these spices are added at the same time in each recipe but together, they make quite a potent brew. 

The usual spices in masala chai are:

  1. Cardamom

    Cardamom is a versatile ingredient used for cooking and baking. It’s one of the key chai tea ingredients but it has also been used in coffee and even alcoholic beverages. It carries cultural and culinary significance specifically in India and Arab countries where it’s often used as an ingredient in celebratory and festive cooking. According to Insider, cardamom also has so many health benefits including antibacterial properties, lowering blood sugar, and can even reduce nausea and vomiting for pregnant people.

  2. Cinnamon

    Cinnamon is great for enhancing flavors and is known for being both sweet and a little spicy. It’s also great for aromatherapy because it can create a very relaxing and cozy environment. It’s often associated with comfort and warmth. Like cardamom, it has a bunch of health benefits and medicinal uses and they also share the same blood sugar management capabilities. It’s antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant. Cinnamon is also great in aiding digestion.

  3. Ginger

    Ginger is one of the best flavor enhancers used in cooking. In this case though, ginger works as a great flavor enhancer for masala chai as well as a source of great health benefits. Ginger works well in alleviating digestive discomfort like bloating, gas, and indigestion. Ginger is best known for its compound, gingerol, which has anti-inflammatory effects that also help reduce pain. Ginger can also help heal colds and flu because of its warming effect. It can relieve colds and the flu by improving circulation and supporting the immune system.

  4. Cloves

    Cloves have long been used for Ayurvedic purposes and Chinese medicine. Like most of the spices in the masala chai list, it also has warming properties that help relieve many discomforting ailments in the body. Eugenol is one of the compounds found in cloves that has antimicrobial properties that can protect the body from bacteria. Cloves are also great for managing diabetes, relieving respiratory congestion and even pain. Not only are cloves found in masala chai, but it’s also an ingredient in garam masala and other spice blends like pumpkin spiced drinks.

  5. Black Pepper

    Black pepper is best known as a seasoning and less for its benefits. There is an active compound in black pepper called piperine that can actually help the body absorb nutrients as well as vitamins and minerals from other foods. Like ginger, it’s also a great decongestant and can have a warming effect on the respiratory system which makes it great as an at-home remedy for colds and coughs. Black pepper can also improve blood circulation, lower cholesterol levels, manage weight, and even prevent cancer.

  6. Nutmeg

    Nutmeg comes from a fruit seed that grows from the Myristica fragrans tree. Besides its culinary uses as a great flavor enhancer, it’s also used in aromatherapy. It’s been used in essential oils because it can be warm and comforting. Nutmeg also has properties that are great for supporting brain health. It also has inflammatory properties like the rest of the spices on this list and works well as a digestive aid. Nutmeg is also said to be nature’s remedy for promoting sleep.

  7. Star Anise

    Star anise gets its name because of its distinct shape. It’s a great flavor enhancer as well that has a little bit of a licorice taste. It’s one of the five-spice ingredients, is mostly used in cooking for Chinese, Vietnamese, and Indian cuisines, and it’s even used for baking. Star anise is also great for supporting digestion and alleviating bloating, gas, and indigestion. It’s a great herbal remedy for coughs and supports your respiratory health.

  8. Fennel Seeds

    Fennel seeds come from the Foeniculum vulgare plant. It has great digestive properties that work by relaxing the gastrointestinal tract. It contains a lot of fiber and can promote regular bowel movements and can even help prevent constipation. For people with digestive issues, fennel tea is often consumed to relieve some discomfort. Fennel seeds are also great for lactating moms who need extra help in producing milk. It’s also great for managing your weight by regulating your appetite.

  9. Basil

    It might not be well known, but basil is actually part of the mint family. Basil might not be one of the usual chai tea ingredients since it’s mostly used in Italian cuisine for pasta, pesto, and salads but basil also works well with other herbs which makes it a great addition to the masala chai spice medley. Like cloves, it also contains eugenol which has anti-inflammatory effects and helps in reducing inflammation in the body. There is also some research that suggests basil can help the body adapt to certain stressors. Besides the health benefits, basil can sometimes be used to repel insects and can even be used for skin care.

  10. Ajwain

    Ajwain is known as carom seeds or Bishop’s weed and is mostly used in Indian and Arabic cuisine. It comes from the Trachyspermum ammi plant and can be reminiscent of thyme just slightly more bitter. Some of Ajwain’s health benefits include relieving flatulence, aiding in digestion, and alleviating respiratory issues. It also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties like all the other spices used in making masala chai.

  11. Oregano

    Like basil, oregano also belongs to the mint family. It’s commonly used in Italian, Mediterranean, and Greek cuisines because of its bold flavor that goes well with sauces, pizza, salads, meats, and vegetables. Oregano is also rich in antioxidants that protect the cells from free radicals and oxidative stress. It contributes to the overall health of the body by healing inflammation, aiding in digestion, and having antimicrobial properties thanks to the compounds carvacrol and thymol.

  12. Licorice

    Licorice comes from the Glycyrrhiza glabra plant and like all other spices used in masala chai, is quite versatile. Licorice has a distinct sweetness to it which is why it’s mostly known as a flavoring for candy, confections, and beverages. It can have a mild laxative effect making it great for your digestive system. It can also soothe coughs and colds making it great for the respiratory system which works by thinning out mucus. Licorice root is often used to soothe throat pain caused by irritation making it nature’s lozenge. 
ginger, cinnamon, and other spices that make up masala chai

An Easy Chai Tea Recipe

To truly find out how easy it is to make your own chai, here’s an easy foolproof recipe that you can follow. All you’ll need is a small saucepan and these chai tea ingredients:

  1. 2 cups of water
  2. 1 cup of milk
  3. 2 to 3 teaspoons of black loose-leaf tea / 2 or 3 black tea bags
  4. 4  green or black cardamom pods 
  5. 2 cinnamon sticks
  6. A piece of ginger (about an inch)
  7. 4 cloves of garlic
  8. A pinch of black pepper
  9. Sweetener of your choice


  1. Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Crush the cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, and cloves, grate the ginger and then add them in the water.
  3. After the water comes to a gentle boil, you can lower the heat so the mixture can simmer. The right amount of time to let all the spices infuse with the water is about 5-7 minutes.
  4. Add the loose-leaf tea or tea bags to the spiced water. For a stronger brew, you can add another bag or another teaspoon of tea. 
  5. After a couple of minutes, you can add in the milk and let that mixture simmer for another 5 minutes. Keep an eye on the mixture and don’t let the tea boil over. 
  6. At this point, you can now add your choice of sweetener. For 2 cups, you can add one or two tablespoons of sugar. You can add more or less depending on how sweet you like your tea. 
  7. Strain the mixture using a mesh strainer before serving and enjoy!
Chai Up’s Masala Chai Tea Powder Mix

Making Masala Chai with Chai Up

Making masala chai isn’t all about the final product, but also all to do with loving the process of making it. There’s a reason why most recipes are to make at least 3 to 4 cups of chai instead of just one. It’s because, from the process of making it until the time you get to drink the chai, it’s a bonding experience between friends and family. 

Chai Up was established in 2023 and created their Masala Chai Tea Powder Mix based on the founders’ long-standing family recipe. Chai Up has successfully encapsulated the flavors of masala chai and is now sharing its secret with the rest of the world. Their Masala Chai Tea Powder Mix has 11 premium ingredients that you can readily add to your tea. In just a teaspoon of their powder mix, you can already taste and smell the fragrant aromatics that are so uniquely masala chai. 

You can easily use Chai Up’s Masala Chai Tea Powder Mix by substituting all the spices in the recipe above with 2-3 teaspoons of it. So instead of waiting longer for spices to infuse with the tea and having to crush the spices manually, you can just add Chai Up’s Masala Chai Tea Powder Mix and enjoy all of masala chai’s great flavors for less time and with even more spices!

Chai Up’s Masala Chai Tea Powder Mix can also be used in different recipes making it such a versatile product that you and your family will surely enjoy. 


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