Sticky Chai

November 27, 2020
3 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom. Food stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop stylist: Amanda Widis.
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • makes 1 small jar of sticky chai (which then makes 4 cups of liquid chai)
Author Notes

When I first heard about sticky chai—it seemed like a bizarre concoction that did good old stovetop chai as it’s been made for hundreds of years a great injustice. But as we prepare to spend this holiday season away from the ones we love, the possibilities of sticky chai masala (that can be mailed across the country and then stored in the fridge for a month!) began to intrigue me.

So I’m taking a note out of the Aussie sticky chai book and gifting little jars to all my family this year. I’ve never found a chai masala that I really love or that can recreate the experience of making a hot cup of chai to curl up and catch up with loved ones over. But I’ve now tested several versions to get this as close as possible to the from-scratch experience!

P.S.: This recipe scales very well! —Sana Javeri Kadri

Test Kitchen Notes

This chai masala is part of Recipes to Give & Share, a collection of perfectly packable holiday treats that we're sending to our loved ones this year. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 2 inches of fresh ginger, or 2 teaspoons of dried tea cut ginger
  • 1 teaspoon whole Aranya peppercorns
  • 10 pods Baraka Cardamom (or more if you're using old/stale cardamom!)
  • 1 large cinnamon stick
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon loose-leaf black tea
  • 2 teaspoons honey (or date syrup or maple syrup!), plus more as needed
  1. If using fresh ginger, mince it as finely as you can manage. I promise that this extra step is worth the time!
  2. In a mortar and pestle, gently crush the cardamom pods, pepper and fennel. Just enough to release some oils and break ‘em up, not to powder.
  3. Break up your cinnamon stick into small pieces.
  4. In the jar, mix your spices, black tea and sweetener with a spoon. You want it to be the texture of wet granola, so add more sweetener if it looks too dry after a thorough mix.
  5. The masala will keep in your fridge for up to a month.
  6. To use one batch of sticky chai masala to make 4 small cups of chai, bring 4 cups of your choice of dairy or nondairy milk plus 1 cup of water to a boil. Add the entire batch of chai masala and stir. Boil on high heat until the mixture bubbles up once, or even twice if you like a creamier chai. I know chai is done to my preferred consistency when it looks a little darker than iced coffee. Strain through a fine mesh strainer and enjoy!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

3 Reviews

judy February 24, 2021
I have experimented with chai spice myself for many years. Spice combinations are sure a personal preference. I leave out the cinnamon and peppercorn, but keep all the rest. I really like licorice and cardamom so add extra. I cannot tolerate tea leaves, so I have been using in in Roiboos red African herb tea for several years now. I guess I am saying, don't be afraid to mix it up or modify to taste. I also do not add the honey. I keep the spice blend in a jar in the freezer, adding a small spoonful to my cup with some honey and pouring over the hot water. It steeps with the rooibos, and has a wonderful mellow flavor. I generally do not add milk, but if I have evaporated milk I will add a dollop of that. So good. Thanks for this recipe.
A. R. December 7, 2020
Delicious! I couldn't find the exact types of cardamon or pepper, so I substituted rainbow peppercorns and black cardamon. I made 6 jars and used one for taste-testing. 5 will be the first batch for teachers (along with the Torrone recipe also in this collection) - a little sweet and spicy chai and a dark chocolate candy - sweeten up anyone's day. I rolled up cheesecloth and tied it with bakery twine and tied that to the jars for a sieve in case someone doesn't have a fine mesh strainer at home!
TMB December 13, 2023
Do you mind me asking what size jars you used?