Enjoy a fresh cup of Elaichi Chai, or Cardamom Tea, with this easy 10-minute recipe. The traditional Indian tea boasts a harmonious blend of robust black tea, fragrant green cardamom, and whole milk. It's warm, soul-soothing, and perfect to enjoy with samosas.
If you've explored the chai scene in New York City, you may have tried the famous $1.50 cup of cardamom chai at a few hole in the walls around the city. It's super popular for college students looking for a quick and cheap pick-me-up between classes. They're also a great hand warmer on cold or rainy days.
A Cardamom Chai is a quick way to make a simple yet fragrant cup of chai with a little something extra using green cardamom versus developing flavor and creaminess in a cup of Masala Chai. The spice, green cardamom, comes in little green pods that have a citrusy and floral flavor.
They're super fragrant when you open a jar of them and they impart a lovely taste to any dish or drink it's in. If you're more of a coffee fanatic, give this Cardamom Coffee a try!
Why You'll Love this Recipe
If you're looking for a quick, easy chai then this is the recipe for you! Here's why you'll love it:
- It'll take you 10 minutes and a few pantry ingredients + milk to make this chai!
- This recipe accounts for a bit of evaporation from simmering the tea.
- I'm including instructions on how to make this super simple chai in an electric tea kettle for several people or within 2 minutes using a microwave.
What is Elaichi Chai?
Elaichi Chai simply means cardamom tea. It's an Indian-style of tea with black tea, green cardamom, rich whole milk, and sugar. It's typically enjoyed warm on rainy days in India and Pakistan.
Ingredients - Notes and Substitutions
- Black tea - Assam tea work best for chai, and English breakfast is a good runner up. My favorite loose leaf black tea is Danedar and my favorite tea bags are Tetley British Blend. I do not recommend earl grey. Some families even make their own blend of tea - my dad does a blend of black and green tea leaves.
- Cardamom - Be sure to use green cardamom pods, not black cardamom.
- Sweetener - Granulated sugar is the most commonly used sweetener, but brown sugar, stevia, honey, and even maple syrup will work.
- Milk - The best milk for chai is undoubtedly dairy milk, preferably whole. The best vegan plant-based milk substitute for chai is oat milk or cashew cream.
How to make Elaichi Chai
Pour water into a stainless steel sauce pan. Bring it to a boil.
In the meantime, lightly crush the green cardamom to expose the black seeds inside.
Once the water is boiling, add the black tea leaves or teabags and the crushed green cardamom. Let the water boil for 2-3 minutes before adding the milk.
Bring the heat down to a simmer. Allow it to continue simmering for 4-5 minutes, or until the tea is creamy.
Pro Tip: You can absolutely incorporate the skills you learned making Masala Chai and develop more flavor by double boiling or ladling the chai.
Once the tea is done simmering, it'll be this gorgeous golden brown hue. Remove the sauce pan from heat.
Strain the chai over a fine mesh sieve and into your tea cups. Spoon in your desired amount of sweetener and stir.
Microwave or Tea Kettle Instructions
Cardamom Chai is more or less very similar to doodh patti. It gives us the flexibility to make chai in the microwave or in a tea kettle since we're not looking to develop the flavor from a ton of spices. Cardamom is pretty great at releasing flavor when exposed to heat in a short period of time.
In New York City, chaiwallahs make a $1.50 cup of Cardamom Chai using a microwave and an espresso machine with a milk steamer. It's soooo good. Here's how to do it:
- Fill a heat-safe mug halfway with water. Add 1-2 black tea bags and 1-2 green cardamom pods per person.
- Warm the water in the microwave at High for 2 minutes, or until comfortably hot to sip on. You know your microwave best.
- In the meantime, steam ½ cup of whole milk per person until hot and frothy.
- Remove the mug from the microwave. Dip the teabags in and out so that it releases more flavor and color.
- Pour the frothy milk into the mug.
- Add sugar to preference. Stir until melted and enjoy.
Electric Tea Kettle
Yep, we're making chai in an electric tea kettle! This is a hack I saw my dad do when we didn't have access to a stove but wanted to make chai for half a dozen people. Make sure your kettle is throughly washed and sanitized.
- Fill the electric tea kettle with water, milk, and the cardamom pods. Remember the ratio per person is half a cup of water, half a cup of milk, 1-2 teabags or teaspoons of black tea, and 1-2 cardamom pods depending on desired strength.
- Let the tea kettle run it's cycle until everything is hot.
- Strain the chai into mugs.
- Spoon in sugar according to preference.
- Add additional aromatics or spices like edible rose petals and grated ginger.
- If you like a stronger chai, use 2 tea bags per person.
- If you know your green cardamom are old or maybe not the best quality, add 2 per person. Make sure to crush them open so the black seeds inside are exposed.
- Dairy milk is a popular option for Cardamom Chai. If you're using a dairy free option, I recommend heating it separately and adding it after the tea leaves have steeped to prevent curdling or separation. I do not recommend almond milk due for chai for this reason.
- Don't walk away from the stove once you add the milk. It can boil over the top!
More Chai Recipes to try
- Bring water to a boil in a saucepan. Toss in the crushed green cardamom pods and two teaspoons of black tea leaves.
- After 2-3 minutes, add the milk. Lower the heat to a medium to low flame. Let the chai simmer for 4-5 minutes.
- Remove the saucepan from heat. Strain the chai using a fine mesh sieve into 2 mugs.
- Add a teaspoon of sugar to each mug, or preferred amount of sweetener.
- Serve warm.
- If you like a stronger chai, use 2 tea bags per person.
- If your green cardamom is old or not the best quality, add 2 per person. Be sure to crush them so the black seeds inside are exposed.