How To Make Authentic Indian Chai Your Friends Will Love

How To Make Authentic Indian Chai Tea Your Friends Will Love | Growing Up Herbal | Want to impress your friends or kids with a delicious, made-from-scratch herbal tea? Try this recipe for authentic Indian chai that's sure to impress!

Chai is a sweet beverage steeped in tradition. For many tea lovers, chai has meant a trip to the coffee shop or a simple tea bag steeped in milk. However, making your own authentic Indian chai with fragrant spices, creamy milk, and syrupy honey is actually quite simple.

Just imagine the smell of cardamom and ginger gently drifts through the air as the smooth tendrils of milk and honey swirl together with the spices.

My History with Chai

One of my first experiences with chai was when our young missionary friend invited us over for a cup of tea with the neighbors. Our group had just unloaded a hundred or so boxes off of a semi for the local food pantry and needed some refreshment. My husband and I enjoyed getting to know Roddy MacIvor as we worked that day together at the food pantry. This quirky, red-headed Irishman with a passion for Jesus, also had a love for a good cup of chai.

Several years later, my husband and I found ourselves at a support dinner for the Phillips extended family. Craig and Teresa Phillips were a missionary couple serving in India. They treated everyone to some delicious, authentic Indian food, including Teresa’s homemade chai blend. The church sat around like one big family in the dining hall, sharing stories and sipping chai.

I’m always reminded of that sense of community whenever I enjoy a mug of warm chai. I’m reminded of good conversations with close friends, and the time we shared together.

The Real Deal

Teresa and her family are back in the states, for the time being, so I asked her to share her chai recipe with me. This is authentic chai from India, not the premixed, Americanized version. It was a little hard for Teresa to relay the recipe to me since, in India, no one uses a chai recipe. Instead, they engage their senses of sight, touch, and taste to know when the chai “feels right.” And since they don’t typically use measurements, if you ask an Indian how to make chai, they’re more than likely going to tell you to “use this much,” of an ingredient by pinching their thumb and forefinger together.

Fortunately, however, I managed to get a real deal recipe with measurements! You can make a big batch to share with your family this Autumn, but it’s a great one to drink on your own too.

It’s All About the Spices

How To Make Authentic Indian Chai Tea Your Friends Will Love | Growing Up Herbal | Want to impress your friends or kids with a delicious, made-from-scratch herbal tea? Try this recipe for authentic Indian chai that's sure to impress!

Not only is chai delicious, but it offers some surprising health benefits. Black tea contains tannins that naturally tighten and tone the intestinal wall, possibly improving digestion. Ginger is a warming, stimulating herb that’s great for aiding digestion and soothing stomach upset. It’s anti-inflammatory making it helpful for conditions like arthritis and pain relief. It’s also a potent antiviral, antibacterial and anti-parasitic. (source).

Cardamom adds a pungent flair to a cup of chai. This herb is high in potassium, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, and B vitamins, to name a few. (source) Most chai blends, including this one, also use cinnamon for flavor. I use cinnamon in my homemade toothpaste for a healthy mouth. It increases circulation, helps control blood sugar, and has antibacterial and antifungal properties (source).

Clove is another powerhouse herb in this recipe. The natural analgesic properties make it great for soothing a toothache or sore throat while reducing inflammation. I use it along with the cinnamon in my toothpaste as well because of its antiseptic and antibacterial properties. (source)

And, of course, no cup of chai would be complete without some fresh milk. We use raw milk at our house. To preserve the health benefits, I deviate from the traditional recipe and don’t add this until the end. Be sure to use milk that hasn’t had the fat removed for the creamiest version!

Authentic Indian Chai Recipe



  1. Place the water, sugar, and herbs in a saucepan over medium-high heat and heat until boiling. Turn the heat down just a little, until the tea is very hot, and gently boil for 10 minutes. In India, they boil the milk and water together, but if you’re using raw milk, then add this at the end.
  2. Once the tea is done brewing, strain out the herbs and discard.
  3. Add the milk (if using raw). Stir the mixture well and pour into mugs to serve.
  4. Make this a cold drink by refrigerating the brew and pouring over some ice cubes for iced chai!

NOTE: We use raw honey in our house for its health benefits. Traditionally Indians use sugar in their chai, but this can be omitted if desired. Just stir some honey in and taste once the tea is done!

If you’re not up for making your own herbal chai blend but would still like to enjoy this delicious drink, you can get a pre-mixed chai blend here.

Tell us below! What’s your favorite cup of herbal tea to sip during the cooler months?


  1. Jill York@JillsHomeRemedies says:

    I loooove chai tea! Great recipe!

    • Bettye says:

      I too, am retired RN and have been into herbs for decades. I decided to make my own chai tea and surprisingly it paralleled yours. I use nutpods which is a mix of almond and coconut milk, very creamy. Sugar in the form of honey or coconut palm sugar. Sometimes use maple. I buy Vadham tea from India, all organic and use that as the tea base. Thank you for publishing. Great job!

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  3. Raia says:

    The first time I had Indian chai was when a friend my husband served with in Chennai came over to our house and made some for me. I was so surprised when he asked me for black pepper to add in! It worked, though. 😉 And you’re right, he couldn’t give me a recipe when I asked for one! Thanks for sharing your friend’s version – it sounds delicious!

  4. Ashnahmed says:

    When you use raw milk for traditional chai or Shai, the steps are usually to boil water then add spices and simmer for a few minutes until the water takes on the spices, then you add the tea and simmer for about 2 minutes then you add your raw milk but the fire should be like at the lowest point. You simmer low until it barely starts to rise–therefore preserving the properties of the milk. This is also consistent with the Ayurvedic tradition of warming raw milk.

    • Meagan says:

      Thanks for sharing Ashnahmed. So the spices are first, then the tea, then you do heat the raw milk over low heat. Thanks for the clarification!

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  7. Benalynn says:

    This tea is really delicious. I really love the taste of this.

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