This creamy cup of iced Indian masala chai is a spice-forward cool drink for hot summer evenings that can easily be made in large batches.
- Black CTC tea - It's important to use black CTC tea for a strong cup of chai. You can learn more about this type of tea, its substitutes, and why it makes the best cup of chai in this detailed blog post. However, if you want to skip right to the brand recommendation, I suggest Red Label for your chai needs.
- Chai masala - Aromatic spice blend with spices like cardamom for sweetness, cinnamon for warmth, and black peppercorn for heat. You can start with my chai masala recipe as a starting point and then riff to make your own.
Creamy iced chai requires less water
Typically, warm chai uses a 1:1 ratio of water to milk. However, for iced chai it is best to use 2:3 ratio of water to milk. This is because the ice cubes added to iced chai will dilute the chai consistency as the chai sits.
However, it is still important to have enough water to brew the black tea leaves for chai. So it is alright to double or triple the recipe for this iced chai but it is not recommended to to half this recipe, to ensure that there is enough water to brew the tea leaves.
Increase the sugar and spice when making iced chai
It is important to understand that when any food or drinks are cold, your perception of how sweet or salty the dish is diminishes. So it is important to increase the amount of sugar and spices to ensure that the chai tastes just as flavorful and strong as the warmed up version. In addition, the tea will brewed for a slightly longer time to make sure the tea is strong enough once it is cooled.
Cold brew method doesn't work well for iced chai
Cold brewing tea or coffee involves steeping tea granules or coffee granules in cold water for long periods of time in order to extract the flavor.
I've tested a cold brew chai method where the spices are toasted and then added along with the tea granules into cold water to extract the flavors into the liquid. Then milk is added to the water to create a cold brew chai.
The cold brew method yields a tea that is very mild which is great if you want to drink the tea on its own. However, the tea couldn't get strong enough in the cold brew process to yield a well balanced chai. Cold brew chai tasted more like milk with a bit of tea in it so I recommend avoiding this method and boiling the tea and spices instead.
How to make any chai iced
There are so many varieties of chai out there depending on the flavor profile that you desire. This recipe is for a spice-forward masala chai. However, you can make a more mild chai that features one ingredient like cardamom chai, rose chai, kesar chai, or ginger chai. Here are the overall rules for making any chai recipe into its iced version:
- Use a 2:3 ratio of water to milk for a creamy chai. Make sure you have at least 1 cup of water to have enough to steep your tea in.
- Steep the tea for 1-2 minutes longer.
- Increase the amount of sugar and spices by 1.5 times the amount called for in the recipe.
If these rules are too hard to keep track of, simply use the recipe for iced chai listed down below but swap the chai masala with the 1.5 times the amount of spices called for in one of my other chai recipes.
Making iced chai ahead of time
It is easy to make iced chai in large batches ahead of time. Simply make the chai as stated and cool in a tightly sealed large container. Add the ice to individual servings when ready to drink. Chai can last up to a week in the fridge. As the chai sits in the fridge, the flavors will diminish over time.
What is Chai Masala?
This recipe is for an iced masala chai which is a chai made with chai masala or a chai spice blend. I want folks to be empowered to make chai masala to fit their taste buds; however, you can use my recipe as a starting point. It uses fresh whole spices like cardamom for sweetness, cinnamon for warmth, cloves for bitterness, and black peppercorn for heat. Those whole spices are toasted to release their essential oils and then ground into a powder to form a flavorful chai masala.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can make the chai up to a week in advance without the ice and leave it in the fridge. Simply add ice to the individual servings when ready to drink.
Yes you can. The rule of thumb is that 1 tablespoon loose leaf black tea = 2 tablespoons of decaf loose leaf black tea (steep for x2 the time if going this route) = 8 decaf black tea bags. Check out this detailed blog post about making decaf chai.
Yes. You can make any type of chai from ginger chai to rose chai iced. Read here for tips to convert any chai recipe to its iced version.