This site has what looks to be a good recipe for homemade "Chai" spiced tea; however, it requires a lot of prep and won't work with my current routine, which is the modern English style tea preparation for loose-leaf tea: boil water in an electric kettle, pour into pre-warmed teapot with leaves, steep, dump into travel mug, add milk and sugar, run out the door late as usual. Total time: about 5-6 minutes.

Is the boiling of milk with spices necessary, or can I dump pre-ground spices into my brewed tea along with milk and sugar? Can I boil a large batch of milk with spices and store that in the fridge and add to brewed tea instead of my usual vanilla soymilk?

EDIT: I appear to have misread part of the instructions; it calls for boiling water with spices then adding milk, rather than boiling milk with spices directly. The comments, however, insist that the milk needs to come to a proper boil as well. So, the real question appears to be: is that true, or can I toss the spices in with the leaves in my pot while the tea steeps and add milk as usual later?


3 Answers 3


That recipe actually says there are two ways you can prepare this:

There are two ways to do this: throw just about everything in a pot of water and simmer, then add the milk, tea and sweetener and brew for a few minutes; or, let the spices soak overnight in the water then simmer in the morning with your tea leaves and milk.

(emphasis mine)

Have you tried the latter? That way you still only have to heat things up once.

I'd be hesitant to boil milk with spices and then store it cold, reheating again. If you're using dairy milk, that is. If you're using anything other than non-fat (skim) milk, you'll get a "skin" on the top of the milk when you're boiling it - that's one of the classic signs of masala chai for me. But anyway, it becomes substantially less appetizing if it has time to cool into globules and is then reheated again. I'm not sure what problems, if any, you'd encounter using non-dairy milk like almond or soy.

You could dump the pre-ground spices into your brewed tea with milk and sugar, but the flavor profile will be a little different. Boiling the spices with the milk and tea gives everything time to meld nicely and provide a really smooth flavor blend. But I don't see any especially compelling reason that you couldn't do it.

I would like to point out, though, that boiling enough water for a travel mug's worth of tea doesn't take any more time to do on the stove than it does in my electric kettle. Adding milk shouldn't make too much difference; I'm willing to bet that after you get familiar with the routine, you can follow this recipe and still have it take 5-6 minutes. :)

Purists will insist that the spices must be boiled with the water, but those are the same people who would scoff at you adding cold milk to your tea in the first place. There's no reason why you can't, other than it might cool down the rest of your tea.

  • It does seem to take longer in my stovetop kettle than my electric one, and I've often got multiple things on the stove in the mornings (say, an omelette, some chicken, and some pasta to pack into my lunch). Now that you mention it it appears I misread the recipe slightly... editing question Commented Feb 2, 2012 at 21:29
  • @Laura "but those are the same people who would scoff at you adding cold milk to your tea in the first place", I'm sorry but when boiling milk, it becomes totally different, and I would certainly recommend it when making chai.
    – cederlof
    Commented Aug 21, 2012 at 9:05
  • 1
    @cederlof The question is asking for ways to speed up the recipe. The way to speed up the recipe is to do it incorrectly. If you read my answer closely, you'll see that I did recommend boiling the milk as well because it doesn't really add significant extra time, but that if she wants to cheat, she can. Yes, it's a different flavor, but if she's really trying to maximize speed, not taste, then she can use her normal tea routine.
    – Laura
    Commented Aug 21, 2012 at 13:09
  • Whether a kettle or stove is faster depends on where you live. US 120v makes kettles very slow, which is why they never really caught on. UK/EU kettles can boil a pint in a minute.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Apr 8, 2023 at 7:27

The milk content of chai is generally about 20% or so of the water. I dont see a reason why you cant bring such a small amount of milk to boil on high heat while the rest of the tea is simmering. It is always possible to mix in the milk with the water, but thats not authentic and gives me a little "off" taste. not sure if acutual or psyco effect.


Any spice has chemicals that give aroma / flavor. To get the aroma / flavor, one has to boil with preferably with water. Therefore, its better to boil the spice / tea with water, which you can freeze it. When required, can add sugar / milk (hot or cold).

  • I've got a baked chicken recipe that says not all spices must be boiled. Cracked pepper on salads proves not all spices need to be heated, even. Bite into a cinnamon stick and you'll have flavor. Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 13:19

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