A rich cup of chai, blended with just the right spices, is a beautiful thing.
Learning how to brew chai tea at home with the right balance of black tea, spices, milk and honey gives you the tools to recreate your coffee shop favorites on demand.
There’s no single right answer for how to prepare chai tea, but we’ll aim to give you everything you need to create your own ideal blended milk chai using a few simple rules.
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It all comes down to making a concentrated tea brew and combining it with the cream and sweetener of your choice. This way, you won’t dilute the flavor of your spices and tea. Your spice blend might change with the seasons, but the most important ingredient is the tea itself.
Start with good tea, and you’ll have a great chai latte.
What is Chai? Where Does it Come From?
The word “chai” just means tea, but for many of us, it evokes a creamy and spiced chai latte. The Yuan Dynasty inspired the modern English and Indian milk tea tradition that grew into the chai latte of today. Should you put milk in chai? Milk tea is nearly as old as tea itself - do what tastes best to you!
Making Chai Tea: How to Craft Your Own Blend
Ready to make your own spice blend for the perfect chai? It’s all about balance!
When you start, every spice has its own smell, but a successful blend comes together to form something new - an integrated sensation that exceeds its parts. The freshness and origin of your spices will make a huge difference to proportion, so take the time to source good ingredients and experiment with proportions!
After years of working to find the perfect spice blend to complement our favorite chocolatey black tea, we created our Auburn chai spice recipe. Our blend includes over 15 different spices, including unique “secret” additions like saffron and tulsi.
- AUBURN chai spice
This spiced chai herbal tisane is a blend of cinnamon, ginger, black peppercorn, tulsi, dandelion root, cardamom, goji berry, fennel, elderberry, cacao nibs, burdock, galangal, clove, saffron, vanilla, and hinoki cypress oil.
This is chai spice after a fifth voyage around the world, having picked up inspiration at every stop along the way - finally world-weary and ready to set up as a hermit deep in a Hinoki Cypress forest and enjoy the balance it could only pick up with sixteen ingredients acting together in just the right way.
Brew this on its own, or add your favorite tea - a roasted oolong, like a rich Wuyi oolong, or Laoshan black tea. Give the blend even fuller texture with a touch of honey.
Classic Chai Spice Recommendations
For a basic chai spice, start with the classic spices below and balance them to your liking. They are listed in recommended order from the most to least by weight, so include more of the spices at the top (cinnamon, ginger) and less of the spices at the bottom (peppercorn, clove).
How to Choose a Base Tea for Your Chai
The best base tea for a spice chai blend needs to taste great on its own!
For best results, a loose leaf chai tea base should have flavor that stands out even with milk, and it should be rich enough to bring together all the spices. A chai tea base should not be bitter or drying. Blended chai isn’t about covering up your tea; it's about your tea boosting the spices, the milk, and the honey.
Some of our favorite teas for chai include:
- 2014 Loose Gong Ting Shu
Qianjiazhai Gong Ting Shu Pu'er is still a very new practice, made only by one of Master Zhou's students in the cooperative. Using the giant buds of Qianjiazhai's wild trees between 100 and three hundred years of age, this tea is carefully and slowly pile fermented to bring out a deep rich sweetness unlike any other shu pu'er out there. Master Zhou was so excited by this experiment he is sharing the technique across the cooperative and encourage more members to keep developing the craft.