Homemade Chai.

Wait! Wait! This recipe is good, but I've improved on it in recent years. My new recipe is here. And I highly recommend it.


I started making chai when I was 16. My best friend's mom Usha always seemed to have a fresh pot on the stove. (This was before coffee shops and grocery stores picked up on chai and it became a overly-sweet Americanized packaged beverage. It was completely unprecedented to my palate.) I was obsessed

I asked her to share her recipe and she laughed. Recipe? There was of course no recipe, but she made one up to give me a jumping off point.


In the twenty years that have since elapsed that recipe has morphed and unraveled to a new point of no-recipeness. In fact, the photo at the top is rather pale for chai because the batch I had on hand to photograph was made with Nettle leaf instead of black tea. 

But I digress. 

I've done for you what Usha did for me. I made up a recipe to give you a jumping off point for your own journey. There are countless different ways to make chai. This is just my version (thank you, Usha!).




Homemade Chai

2 tsp Cardamon seeds or 2 T cardamon pods

1/2 tsp whole peppercorns

1/2 tsp cloves

1" x 2" piece of fresh ginger, smashed with the butt end of your biggest knife's handle (in a pinch you can substitute 1 scant tsp dried ginger)

1-2 cinnamon sticks


Bring 6 C water to a boil with the spices. Cover and simmer for 10 – 20 minutes, depending on how spicy you like your chai.

Add 6 black tea bags (or see variation below for kid and mama friendly Nettle Chai). 

Remove from heat and steep for 10 minutes. 

Remove tea bags. At this point you can strain the tea, though I often leave the spices in (I like my chai well spiced). You can add milk to the whole pot (approximately 4 C) and warm gently. I often make a big batch and then just heat the milk separately. This way the tea can stay on the stove all day without getting funky. 


Sweeten with honey (my favorite in the variation below), agave (my favorite with black tea), or sugar.

Nettle Chai Variation

As an alternative to black tea, I just stumbled upon this chai recipe that replaces the black tea with nettles and raspberry leaf. Nettle is a fabulous source of calcium and minerals and a great cleansing herb. Raspberry leaf is a wonderful tonic for pregnant and nursing mothers. And both are local and free if you pick your own. A great way to fulfill your chai craving without the caffeine.


Omit black tea, adding instead 1/2 C dried nettle and 1/3 c raspberry leaf (or more of just one if you don't have both). Proceed as above.

Take your pick. Both are lovey!

17 thoughts on “Homemade Chai.

  1. Tora says:

    just found your blog via whip-up and love the concept. as a 64 year old surrogate grandma to 5, i find the simple thinks in living the most fun to share. thanks for the inspiration and i’ll be back often.

  2. Caroline says:

    I, too, am a Chai addict. I had a friend tell me once “oh you just throw some of this and that in” and yadda yadda yadda. I just couldn’t get started with that. Thanks so much for a starting point! So tired of trying to find the perfect not-so-sweet chai (though the best one was a Masala Chai blend I bought at Stapleton’s in Santa Cruz about 10 years ago. Couldn’t ever find its equal). Now I can make my own! Yeay, so happy!

  3. Heather says:

    Remembering back to one of my most favorite days in history…when a good friend brought along her homemade chai to a north woods adventure. Starting at a school and ending with a very long, slow walk around a lake in freshly fallen snow. Who knew that the friendships made that day would have shaped the person that I am today. Thanks for sharing your recipe and thanks for sharing your chai on that cold November afternoon.

  4. Rachel Wolf says:

    Very sweet, Heather. I remember the day but had forgotten that I brought chai. (I do recall that we forgot to bring water on the hike and the meager amount in the truck was frozen by the time we got back.) Perhaps that is part of my never-leave-home-without-water rule now a days. Love, Rachel

  5. Ali says:

    I have been making both the black tea version and nettle/raspberry leaf version. A soul soothing tea. Thank you so much for sharing!

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