HomeArticlesHistory & Culture Where does chai originate from and how do you make your own masala chai? Chai is considered the national drink of India. Promoted by street and train vendors (known as chai wallahs) in the 20th century,1 masala chai became one of the most popular beverages in India. Here’s the traditional recipe, and steps to make your own homemade masala chai.The Origin of Chai: Where Does Chai Tea Come From? The origins of the word chai, meaning ‘tea’ in Hindi, is derived from the Sinitic Chinese word cha, (茶) for tea.2 Contrary to the Western spicy take of chai tea, chai in Hindi actually means black tea with milk and sugar. Whereas masala tea is black tea with milk, sugar infused with aromatic and basic spices that is often misused in the West as ‘chai tea’. The flavour and colour of chai comes from the tea leaves’ tannin content, along with the stimulant caffeine.1 The recipes of masala chai tea vary across the regions and also among families. Fun Fact: Undisturbed tea plants can grow over 1000 years old. The largest known tea plant is found at Mt. Dahei in Monghai, Xishuangbanna. with a height of The tree is 14.7m, and tall with a trunk circumference of 2.9m, and an estimated age of 1700 years old.3Homemade Masala Chai Recipe There are several variations of masala chai depending on the preference of spices one would like to use. The most common spices that are used in homemade masala chai recipes are fresh ginger, cinnamon, black peppercorn, star anise, green cardamom pods and cloves. Personally, I use only aromatic spices such as cloves, cinnamon and cardamom pods in my own masala chai recipe.Masala Chai Ingredients100 ml milk300 ml water4 whole cloves2 crushed green cardamom pods50 ml sugarBlack tea (I prefer Ceylon tea)Steps to Make Your Homemade Masala ChaiIn a saucepan, add water, sugar and the spices. Simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes.Add the tea leaves and bring to a boilLastly add milk bringing it to boil once again and remove from the stoveStrain into mugs and serveThis is based on the traditional chai wallah recipe, found below.Chai Wallahs’ Masala Chai Recipe4 Ingredients1 cup whole milk1 cup of water2 heaping tsp of black tea5 cardamom whole pods (slightly smashed)2 ground cloves1-inch ginger2 to 3 tsp sugarIn a small saucepan, boil the water then add the cloves, ginger and tea. After a minute add the milk, sugar and cardamom and boil until the milk froths. Strain and serve.What spices would you like to add in your chai? Let us know below!