Add water in a sauce pan and turn the heat on medium-high. Add freshly grated ginger. Let the water come up to a simmer.
Add chai masala powder. If using whole spices instead, add them to a mortar and pestle and crush them lightly before adding to the water.
As soon as the water comes to a boil, add the tea leaves and let them brew for 30 seconds.
Add milk and let the tea come to a roaring boil. Monitor it at this stage so it doesn't spill over.
Reduce the heat to medium and let it simmer for 30-40 seconds. Turn off the heat.
Using a mesh strainer, strain the tea in two cups. Add sugar if using and enjoy!
Adjust milk quantity: Add more or less milk as per taste. Use full-fat milk for a richer taste.
Add or skip sugar: After pouring the tea in cups, stir in sugar to taste if using. Feel free to skip (like I do).
Tea leaves or tea bag: For best flavor, whether using loose tea leaves or tea bags, wait for the water to boil before adding them.
Don't overcook: Don't simmer the tea for longer than the suggested time as it may turn bitter if overcooked.
Chai Masala: If adding chai masala, I recommend starting with ¼ teaspoon. Taste the chai and if needed add another ¼ teaspoon and simmer for 30 seconds.
Ginger: Fresh ginger gives best results in this recipe. Allow it to cook in boiling water before you add milk to prevent curdling.
Making ahead: This chai can be made ahead and stored in a thermos for up to 3 hours.
Leftover: Always discard leftover chai.
No-Spilling tip: After adding milk, the tea can spill over while boiling. To prevent that, place a wooden spoon across the sauce pan. The tea will continue to boil, but won't spill over anymore.
Note: The nutrition facts below are my estimates based on two 12 ounce cups of tea without sugar. If you are following any diet plan, I recommend cross-checking with your preferred nutrition calculator.