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For me, the best chai comes from a couple south Indian restaurants, Dasaprakash and Saravana Bhavan. (I’m usually disappointed by the Americanized café take on this drink: too bland or too cloying.) This recipe is certainly not perfect, but it’s a start. Use a full flavored, fermented black tea like Assam, Ceylon or English Breakfast. Perhaps missing a particular spice? Or too many? Or maybe one needs to use evaporated milk and/or extra rich milk. 😉


  • 2 cups water, bottled or filtered
  • 1 cinnamon stick, about 2 inches long
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons ground cardamom (or 1 tablespoon crushed green cardamom pods)
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 4 to 6 cloves
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder (or 3/4 inch thickly cut fresh ginger)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon anise seeds (or star anise might work)
  • (optional) 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • (optional) 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 teaspoons black tea (or 3 tea bags)


  1. In a saucepot, add all spices to the water. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for at least 5 minutes.
  2. Add the tea and turn off the heat. Let steep for 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add the milk. Bring to a boil again, uncovered, for at least 5 minutes.
  4. Pour the chai using a strainer into mugs.
  5. Sit back, sip, and contemplate infinity.

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