masala chai in a white mug on a wood surface

Masala Chai

Often when I order “a chai” in a café or specialty coffee shop, the server asks – or tries to “correct” me by saying – “Do you mean a chai tea latte?”. I have to reply with a yes, to get what I want, but I can’t help but find this Americanism incredibly irritating. The phrase makes absolutely no sense. For one, the full name for the drink is masala chai, which literally means “spice tea”. And for two, chai is a milk tea, as in, milk is one of its core components. So the phrase “chai tea latte” basically translates to “spice milk tea tea milk”!

3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground chai spice
1 teabag black tea

small (1-quart) pot
measuring cups and spoons
tea infuser, or mini fine mesh strainer

1. Cook all ingredients, except tea, in pot over medium-low heat until just beginning to simmer.
2. Strain into mug.
3. Place teabag into mug until fully steeped—about 4 minutes.

• The tea will be flecked with spices even after straining.

10 minutes

1 serving

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