11 Chai Blends You’ll Want to Try

It’s never been easier to bring the Indian tradition of milky, spiced tea into your kitchen.

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February 23, 2022

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Photo by: Andria Lo

Andria Lo

Any seasoned tea drinker knows that exploring the vast depths of this beloved brewed beverage can be daunting, especially when it comes to chai. For starters, the milky, spiced tea is called “chai,” not “chai tea.” Simply put, chai translates to “tea” in Hindi, so it’s appropriate to leave it at that, and it’s understood that the word refers to the sweet, satiny smooth, spiced tea which originates from India.

From there, things get a bit more complex. Having chai is practically a national past time in the South Asian country, and there are plenty of places to score some, but indulging in a cup which boasts the same, traditional flavor in the United States can be a bit tricky. Thankfully, like baristas on the hunt for the perfect coffee bean, tea-makers from around the globe go to great lengths to concoct chai blends which are easy enough to experiment with at home, and which also reflect the pure and distinct taste of Indian chai. From traditional masala chai to varieties spiced with herbs, fruit and even chocolate, these 11 chai blends offer a suitable base for a proper cup.

With a strong focus on sourcing high-quality, single origin spices from India, Diaspora Co. touts a rich chai masala with clean, honest flavor in its blend. A combination of fresh cardamom, ginger, fennel, cinnamon and cloves results in a strong, soul-warming foundation for a cup of hot or iced chai, and the versatile blend also lends itself to experimenting with both dairy and non-dairy milk add-ins.

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One stripe Chai pays homage to its home base, the city of Portland, Oregon — a.k.a. the Rose City — with an aromatic rose chai blend worthy of a sampling. Gulab, meaning "rose" in Hindi, City literally translates to "Rose City," and yes, plenty of real roses go into the making of this blend. Organic rose petals imported from India offer a subtle and distinct floral sweetness which complements the essence of full leaf black tea.

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Brothers Ani and Ayan Sanyal made it their mission to bring the exquisite flavor of true masala chai, which they grew up sampling during visits to their parents’ native Kolkata, to the heart of New York City. Today, their beloved chai café located in the East Village offers a variety of chai and snacks galore to pair with a cup. For non-New Yorkers, it’s a cinch to enjoy a cup of Kolkata Chai Co.’s famed masala chai anytime with a handy dandy DIY masala chai kit. The kit of Assam black tea, spiced with whole green cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper and cloves offers a simple solution to brewing at home and crafting a cup just the way you like it.

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Among Oprah’s Favorite Things of 2021, blends from The Chai Box have been built with hand-picked spices from plantations in Kerala, and from family recipes passed down to owner Monica Sunny. The result an impressive selection of blends which don’t stray too far from tradition. The Lavender Nights blend, a caffeine-free choice, is a standout among them. Leaves from the rooibos plant are combined with lavender, rose and cardamom to create a satisfying blend to brew and wind down with.

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It’s not coined a bold spices tea for no reason. This special blend from India-based Taj Mahal Tea House packs warming spices like clove, cardamom and cinnamon with red chilli and black pepper, differentiating it from traditional masala chai. With its hefty mix of spices, this blend holds up and offers peppery notes even when combined with water and hot milk.

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Madhu Chocolate may be known as one of the country’s top chocolatiers for its dynamic use of ethically sourced cacao beans from Colombia and Indian spices to craft premium chocolate bars, but it also slings one of the best masala chai blends around. Madhu, owner Harshit Gupta’s mother and namesake of the business, offered her time-honored recipe which combines loose leaf tea and spices for a bold, full-bodied chai, reminiscent of varieties she used to enjoy in India.

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Rooted in culture, India-based Vahdam offers an excellent supply of teas made with quality spices and which fall in line with the country’s mission toward maintaining health and wellness. Particularly, the ginger masala chai blend incorporates ginger with cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and black pepper, putting a wholesome twist on traditional masala chai. Introducing fresh ginger to chai isn’t uncommon, and it can serve as a great benefit to an uneasy stomach, so this blend is a winner in more ways than one.

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In India, the vibrant red packaging of Wagh Bakri tea is just as recognizable as a can of Coca-Cola, and for good reason. The premium tea company, which dates back to 1892, is one of the largest in a country with no shortage of great brands. Its international blend, a budget-friendly alternative to some of the more Insta-popular varieties, is a deep-colored assam tea with robust masala chai flavor. When brewed with milk, you’ll score a velvety, frothy cup each time.

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For 25 years, Rishi Tea & Botanicals has been raising the bar for artisan tea-making, cultivating relationships with farmers to produce organic teas in a sustainable manner. The turmeric chai blend, which churns out a tasty cup when brewed with either water or milk, is evidence of this. The caffeine-free herbal blend combines traditional chai spices with bright turmeric, roasted coconut, vanilla bean and sarsaparilla root for a fulfilling taste which lingers on the palate.

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For those who have been there, drank that, Australia-based tea company Tielka offers a one-of-a-kind cacao and chili chai, which is sure to tickle the senses. Tielka’s signature black tea is mixed with Peruvian cacao and spices like cardamom, nutmeg, ginger and chilli resulting in a sweet milky brew that packs a punch.

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This Toronto-based chai company cuts no corners when it comes to producing its wet loose-leaf chai, handcrafting it in small batches using freshly ground spices sourced directly from farmers in India. The herbal chai blend, made from rooibos tea, is rich in antioxidants and builds on the foundation of Chaiwala’s original masala chai blend by incorporating a blend of fresh ginger root, spices and honey.

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