A kickass cup of (Mad Men) chai


It’s been rainy and cold here in San Diego (well, for San Diego standards). We badly needed the rain, but the cold weather has created in me unquenchable chai cravings. Everyone knows that the rain (monsoon, to be more specific), pakoras and chai are a killer combination. But chai also always reminds me of weekly Mad Men sessions with friends in grad school and my friend Chika would usually ask me to make a cup of chai at some point, which I was more than happy to do. Chika, this one’s for you!

Smashed ginger, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. And yes, that’s my mortar and pestle. Now I really feel like I’ve revealed myself to you.

And nah, this isn’t the watered down, teabag chai from Starbucks or even your neighborhood coffee shop. I’m sorry, but no teabag chai, no matter how aromatic, can compare to the zing of this tea. For me, the ginger is essential here: it’s brightness and sharpness contrasts beautifully with the milky sweetness of this tea. You just have to boil these spices together for a few minutes. They will fill your kitchen with the most fragrant, beautiful aroma. And will wake you up.

The best damn chai of your life, I promise.

Serves: 2

Prep time: 7 minutes


3 cups water

1″ ginger piece, smashed

3 cloves cardamom, smashed

3 cloves

1/2 a cinnamon stick

1 tbsp. black tea leaves or 2 black tea bags

1/2 cup milk of your choice (rice/almond/coconut/soy/cow’s)

Sugar/honey/agave syrup (optional, per your taste)

  1. Bring the water to boil in a pot and then add the spices, all of which (besides the cinnamon) you should smash with a mortar and pestle to release the aromas. Let everything boil together for 2-3 minutes on high heat.
  2. Once the water has slightly changed color, add in your black tea bags. Lower the heat to medium and let boil for another 2-3 minutes.
  3. Turn the heat off and pour in the milk. Gently swivel the pot around so that the milk distributes evenly in the tea.
  4. Using a strainer, pour into two cups. Add a sweetening agent if you like. Serve immediately.


4 thoughts on “A kickass cup of (Mad Men) chai”

    1. You can use whatever milk you like. Since I’m lactose intolerant, I prefer using Lactaid, soy or coconut milk. But 1% is fine too!

  1. Hi Saiba, so the chai we get here at work adds kewra water to the chai, what are your thoughts? It adds an interesting “aroma” and makes it more dessert-like I feel.

    Love the blog!! 🙂

    1. Hi Nitika – interesting! Rose water might add a really nice touch to the chai. I have to try it! Thanks for the tip! xx

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