Tea or 'Chai' as it is famously called in India, is popular across the world. There are hundreds of tea leaf varieties and many different ways of making it. Masala chai is one such variant made by brewing together spices and black tea leaves.
Whether your gray cells are tired and yearning for refreshment or it is just a cold chilly day, a hot cup of masala chai is just the cuppa needed to charge you up.
Masala chai can be made on the stovetop but the instant pot has been my go-to method as it is hands-off, consistent, and very convenient.
Does chai mean tea?
Yes! Chai means tea. Chai is a Hindi word meaning tea. However, it is very popular to call chai as chai tea in English.
What is the difference between chai and masala chai?
Chai would ideally mean making tea with basic ingredients - hot water and, tea with sugar and milk as an optional add-on. However, taking this a step further and adding few spices(masala) makes it a masala chai.
Ingredients for masala chai
It is common to find masala tea bags and the masala tea spice mix which are easy to use, however, it is difficult to beat the taste and goodness of using fresh ingredients for an authentic masala chai. Here is a complete list of ingredients.
- Loose tea (or black tea bags)
Masala tea spices
It is preferable to crush cardamom pods and make a powder but you can use store-bought cardamom powder. You can substitute cardamom powder with some fennel seeds but the taste and aroma would be completely different.
I also like to make ginger paste at home and refrigerate it. I use it every day to make masala chai or just ginger tea.
What kind of tea leaf should I use?
Black tea leaves (fine grain sized) are the most popular and widely used for making chai. The other widely popular leaf variety is called the longleaf and differs in both aroma taste and method of preparation.
How to make masala chai?
To make tea from scratch, measure and put all the ingredients, except milk, in a pot and heat it on a medium high flame. Continue boiling the mixture and then add milk and finally bring it to a boil.
Turn the flame off and cover it with a lid for few minutes before filtering with a fine tea strainer.
How long should you boil chai?
When you start heating tea on a medium-high flame, allow it to come to a boil. Then continue to boil for about 4-5 minutes until ¼ amount of water evaporates.
Once the water and spiced tea mix is boiled, add milk and continue to heat until it comes to a boil. It needs supervision else tea can boil over the pot. Turn the flame off quickly and cover it with a lid.
How long do you steep masala chai?
Allow the spices to steep into masala chai by covering the boiled tea with a lid. Cover it for about 2-3 minutes and then filter it using a fine tea strainer.
You can pour it into a teapot or directly into cups.
How to make masala chai in instant pot?
Why would you make tea in an instant pot? It is mainly for convenience. There is no monitoring needed, and you can also plan ahead.
Masala chai can be made in the instant pot using the pot-in-pot method. Put some water in the instant pot liner and then place a trivet.
In a small pot measure and put all the ingredients and cover it with a lid. It takes a little less water to make tea in the instant pot as water does not evaporate from boiling.
Close and lock the lid with pressure release valve in sealing position. Turn the instant pot on high pressure mode for 5 minutes.
Allow the pressure to release naturally for 15 minutes. This allows the masala chai to steep in all the flavors and still be hot to drink.
Release any remaining pressure manually. Carefully remove the pot and pour the tea into a tea pot or into tea cups.
Personally, I like to make masala chai in instant pot as it gives me the flexibility to use the delay timer. I set the delay timer for 1-2 hours and then tea is ready when I need it.
How do I make the perfect tea?
Practice makes one perfect, this is also apt in making a perfect tea. Adding all the ingredients in the right proportion and boiling tea to ensure the flavors steep in is the key in making a satisfying tea.
Again everyone has their own preference, some like a stronger flavor, and some like it mild. Adjusting the cooking time and amount of tea and spices will eventually give you the perfect masala chai you have been craving for.
What are some Indian snacks to serve with tea?
Tea can be served with savory and spicy Indian snacks. Some of the very popular choices are samosa, kachori, vada pav, thepla (fenugreek flatbread), chaat, and crackers.
Don't forget to check out these recipes to accompany your evening tea
Other beverages you might like
- Thai iced tea
- Instant iced coffee
- Mango lassi
- Banana dried fig smoothie
- Celery ginger lemon juice
- Indian buttermilk
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Instant Pot Masala Chai | Chai Tea
- 1 cup Water (¾ cup for instant pot)
- ¾ cup Milk
- 4 teaspoon Organic cane sugar
- 2 teaspoon Tea leaves
Masala tea on cooktop
- In a small pot add all the ingredients except milk.
- Boil the tea mixure on medium flame.
- Once it starts boiling, continue to boil for about 5 minutes until ¾ cup water remains
- Add milk and continue to heat until the tea starts boiling (it will rise up)
- Remove the pot from flame and cover it with a lid for about 2 minutes
- Strain the masala tea into cups using a fine tea strainer.
Masala tea in instant pot
- Pour one cup of water in the instant pot liner.
- In a small pot place all the ingredients and cover it with a lid
- Place a trivet and the small pot over it with all masala chai ingredients
- Lock the instant pot with release valve in sealing position.
- Turn the instant pot on high pressure mode for 5 minutes by selecting pressure or manual button on high pressure setting
- Keep the "keep warm" setting on
- Allow pressure to release naturally for 15 minutes and then release remaining pressure by moving the pressure release valve in venting position.
- Stir the tea with a spoon to ensure all the sugar has been dissolved.
- Filter the tea using a fine tea strainer into a teapot or cups