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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

How to brew homemade chai

Overhead view of a cup of tea

What’s a non-coffee drinker to drink from the local café? Chai has become a popular beverage for those looking for an alternative to coffee. While our western culture refers to it as “chai tea,” in India we are drinking masala chai. “Chai” is the Hindi word for tea, while “masala” refers to spice. This hot drink is made by brewing black tea with milk, sugar, and spices.

The spices are what makes this drink so delicious. It’s usually made with spices that those living in India would have in their kitchens: cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, clove, black peppercorns, and star anise. It can be made with any type of steamed milk or milk alternative. Most chai will include some type of sweetener, such as cane sugar or honey, but it can also be left out.

When ordering a chai tea in the United States, check to see what you are getting. In many cases, it’s black tea infused with many of the spices mentioned above, but with no milk and no sugar. This would be a zero-calorie option. However, if ordering a chai tea latte, it’s likely made with a powdered spice mix, quite abundant in sugar, and combined with steamed milk. One 16-fluid ounce cup of chai tea latte can have over 40 grams of sugar, which is roughly the amount of sugar in a 16-ounce bottle of soda. To cut back on the sugar, consider making your own with the easy recipe below. Use your favorite sugar substitute or simply decrease the amount of sweetener you choose. Chai has become popular all over the world; enjoy this warm beverage in the comfort of your home.


Chai Tea

(Printable PDF)

2 cups water

⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

3 black tea bags

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ cup granular sugar substitute

1 Tablespoon honey

1 cup non-fat evaporated milk

In a small saucepan or microwave-safe dish, bring water and spices to a boil. Add the tea bags and steep 3-4 minutes. Remove tea bags and stir in vanilla, sugar substitute, and honey. To serve, measure 2/3 cup tea mixture and 1/3 cup evaporated milk together into a mug. Heat in microwave for 1 minute.

Yield: 3 servings


Nutrition Facts (per serving): 100 calories, 0 grams fat, 100 milligrams sodium, 18 grams carbohydrate, 0 grams fiber, 6 grams protein


PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Mae Mu on Unsplash

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jenna Smith is a Nutrition and Wellness Educator with University of Illinois Extension, serving Livingston, McLean, and Woodford Counties. Smith uses her experience as a registered dietitian nutritionist to deliver impactful information and cutting-edge programs to Livingston, McLean, and Woodford Counties and beyond.