Masala Chai

Now that winter is well and truly here and our incredible Kiwi summer is a distant memory it is time to hunker down with some therapeutic toasty beverages to keep us warm and healthy.

Chai is a big favourite of mine as it is a creamier alternative to herbal tea (which I find doesn’t quite have the nourishing factor!) and is a healthier version of a milky flat white!

Unlike coffee, Chai has many inherently beneficial properties. According to Ayurvedic philosophy and medicine, Chai spices are considered to be ‘Sattvic:’ calming, vitalizing and mentally clarifying, the perfect antidote to the stresses of modern life.  Often a café bought Chai can taste amazing but may be filed with excess sweetener and lacking in beneficial spices – so why not make your own! 

Benefits of Spices in Chai 


Used to remedy a number of ailments. Researchers around the world are finding that ginger works wonders. Here are just a few of the many ailments that it can be used to treat:

  • Morning/motion sickness
  • Heartburn
  • Helps in the reduction of pain and inflammation (a natural painkiller)
  • Cold and flu prevention
  • Migraine relief
  • Menstrual cramp relief


Not only does it taste good, but it makes you feel good too. Here are a few of its beneficial properties:

  • Regulates blood sugar levels
  • Helps reduce LDL cholesterol levels
  • Contains natural anti-infectious compounds
  • Reduces pain linked with arthritis


Have a therapeutic role in the following conditions:

  • Food poisoning
  • Athlete’s foot
  • Skin disorders such as acne
  • Symptoms of flu, bronchitis, sinus conditions, coughs and asthma
  • Gum and tooth disorders


Known in India as ‘Choti elaichi,’ cardamom is considered an extremely useful medicine.

  • Improves digestion
  • Helps reduce stomach cramps
  • Eases suffering from flatulence and gas
  • Cleanses the body
  • Improves circulation to the lungs; may treat asthma and bronchitis
  • Stimulates appetite; may relieve stomach acidity

Black pepper

A spice you may not think of as having a large amount of healing properties, but below are just a few.

  • Improves digestion
  • Helps decrease intestinal gas
  • Prevents heartburn and constipation
  • Anti-bacterial agent
  • Rich in anti-oxidants; contains high levels of vitamin A and C
  • Assists in controlling blood pressure and heart rate

Black Tea

Often, black tea is compared with the negative aspects of coffee. Below are some of the positive reasons for drinking black tea.

  • Skin and hair health
  • Abundant in anti-oxidants such as flavonoids, demonstrated to prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol
  • Contains caffeine and the amino acid, L-Theanine, which increases mental focus and concentration
  • Oral health–polyphenols and tannin perform as antibiotics, preventing bacteria that causes tooth decay and bad breath
  • Contains abundance of tannins, which fight viruses and influenza, dysentery and hepatitis

I have included 2 recipes.  The first is using fresh whole spices for when you have more time and the 2nd is for when time is short, using good quality ground spices.

Recipe 1: Masala Chai Fresh Tea

Makes 1 cup serving


  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 to 4 whole green cardamom pods, smashed
  • 1 to 2 thin slices fresh ginger
  • Half cinnamon stick
  • 1 piece star anise
  • 3 peppercorns
  • 3 cloves
  • 3/4 cup milk (almond/oat/coconut)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons loose black tea leaves or a single tea bag
  • Sweetener, to taste (I prefer honey or maple syrup)


Step 1
In a small saucepan, combine the water, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon stick and star anise.

Step 2
Bring the mixture to a boil then lower the heat and simmer for a few minutes until the mixture is fragrant.

Step 3
Add the milk and tea leaves, and simmer for another minute then turn off the heat and let steep for 2 minutes.

Step 4
Pour into a cup through a fine mesh sieve. Discard the leaves and spices. Add sweetener, to taste.


Recipe 2: Masala Chai Ground Spice Tea

You can grind the whole spices (except for ginger – use ground) or simply purchase the ground spice


  • An old glass jar to reuse
  • 2 tsp whole black peppercorns (1/2 tbsp ground)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks (2 tbsp ground)
  • 2 tbsp ground ginger
  • 6 cardamom pods (1 tbsp ground)
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1/cup of water
  • 2 teaspoons of black tea such as Ceylon or Assam
  • Sweetener of choice to taste


Step 1
Grind the spices by whizzing them in a spice or coffee grinder, then sift each spice with a fine-mesh sifter and return any large pieces of spices to the grinder to powder them further (SKIP THIS STEP IF USING GROUND NOT WHOLE SPICES).Combine the ground spices in a jar and mix well.

Step 2
Combine milk, water, black tea and the 1/2 teaspoon of the chai masala mixture made in step 1.

Step 3

Bring the water, milk, spice mixture, and tea to a slow simmer.

Step 4

Cover and remove from the heat. Allow to steep for 5 minutes.

Step 5
Strain carefully into a cup and sweeten to taste.

This blog and the associated recipes was written by Natalie Wallace – Programme Leader, Level 7