karak chai vs masala chai (1)

Karak Chai vs Masala Chai: A Taste Test

Chai is one of the most popular drinks in the Indian subcontinent. With an aromatic smell and a deliciously addictive taste, chai is a relaxing drink for most people. Among the most popular variants of the classic chai recipe, karak chai, and masala chai are both powerful additions to your morning routine. Listed below are some karak chai vs masala chai facts that can help you choose between the two! 

What Is Karak Chai? 

Karak Chai is a strong sweet tea made from evaporated milk and fragrant spices. The word ‘karak chai’ roughly translates to strong tea in Hindi. This means that the tea has an overpowering smell that infuses rich ground spices like saffron, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, and many more! 

The highly fragrant tea is made from black loose tea leaves crushed with ground spices. It assumes a caramel-like color and a completely different taste than masala tea. 

What Is Masala Chai? 

With an intense aroma of ground spices and a saccharine flavor, masala chai is a staple in Indian households. One of the main masala chai vs chai differences is that the former infuses a plethora of ground spices while the latter is prepared with just tea leaves, milk, and sugar. 

The origin of masala chai can be traced back to South Asia where it was traditionally served in the morning alongside a biscuit or homemade snacks. Masala chai is widely enjoyed in South Asian countries like Qatar, India, Pakistan, and UAE due to its unique taste. Due to its popularity, many chai lovers are looking for different flavors to spice up their regular hot beverage. If you are one of them, you can check out our blog articles on irani chai vs masala chai, and chaga vs masala chai. 

Is Karak Tea Same As Chai Tea? 

Karak Tea or chai is a popular aromatic spiced drink that is popular among Indian locals. Karak tea is almost the same as masala chai with a few differences. We will get into the main karak vs masala chai differences soon. 

As far as the origin of karak chai goes, the highly fragrant drink has long been served by ‘chaiwallahs’ or the tea sellers on Indian streets. In fact, it is served in famous Indian restaurants too. In the 1960s, when many Indians migrated to other countries in search of work, they carried this tradition along with them. Soon a new term “chai tea” emerged in the US which is basically translated to “tea tea”. Since karak tea and chai tea is prepared in a similar way, these terms can be used interchangeably. 

What Is The Difference Between Karak Chai And Masala Chai

Chai has been one of the most common drinks in Indian households from time immemorial. In Japan, tea ceremonies are a spiritual practice that dominates every part of their life. Whether you are new to the world of tea flavors or are simply looking for alternatives to your morning drink, we have listed some of the most subtle karak chai vs masala chai differences to simplify your choices. 


When it comes to masala chai vs karak chai’s distinctive tastes, one can only notice a difference based on the ground spices used. As mentioned, karak chai and masala chai predominantly taste the same with a slight variation in their individual flavors. The overall taste is determined by the type and amount of ground spices. 

Karak chai uses two prominent ground spices that represent its true flavor–Saffron, and cardamom. Masala chai contains a rich mixture of ground spices that contributes to its strong flavor. 


As 2/4th of their ingredients consist of ground spices, both karak chai and masala chai have a strong aromatic smell. The hints of spices are usually characteristic smells of the individual teas. While kadak chai has strong cinnamon notes, masala chai is infused with the whole mixture of spices. 


The main karak chai vs masala chai ingredients differs from recipe to recipe. While some endorse cardamom and saffron as the two main ingredients, many add their own spin to their own recipes. The main difference between kadak chai and masala chai is that while the former is made from evaporated milk, the latter uses whole milk. 

For masala chai, the main ingredients range from loose black tea, fresh ginger, cinnamon stick, cloves, cardamom pods, elaichi, and tulsi! You can add as many ground spices as you want and create your homemade masala chai. 

Health Benefits

Karak chai and masala chai are both highly nutritional. While the quality of nutrition depends on the ground spices used, root ginger is a highly beneficial ingredient in both concoctions. Both ginger and clove have been linked to reducing inflammation in the body. Cinnamon is another ingredient that boosts immunity and aids in digestion. 

According to Nutritionist Shraddha Vyas, masala chai is “full of flavonoids and antioxidants.” This makes masala chai a potent drink that has powerful medicinal properties. 

Methods Of Preparation

Karak chai is usually prepared with black tea leaves (preferably Wagh Bakri), evaporated milk, ground spices like cardamom and saffron, and granulated sugar content. There is a difference in the karak chai vs masala chai preparation methods, so follow these closely. Here is a video of how to make karak chai.  

  • Boil 2 cups of water in a saucepan over a stove. Pay attention to the ratio of tea to water (We recommend 1.5 teaspoons of tea for every cup) 
  • Add strong black loose leaves, sugar, crushed cardamom pods, and saffron. 
  • Stir till it has a strong aroma and then add the evaporated milk. 
  • Bring the tea to a boil and let it cool down for 5 minutes. 

Using a tea strainer, pour your tea into cups and indulge in its cardamom flavors. 

Masala chai is prepared using whole milk and flavored ground spices like ginger, cardamom, cloves, star anise, fennel, and peppercorns. 

  • Add one-inch cinnamon, 3 cardamom pods, 2 cloves, and raw ginger in a grinder. 
  • After getting a smooth paste of all the spices, heat 2 cups of hot water in a saucepan. 
  • Let the water come to a boil and add the crushed spices to the boiling water. 
  • Add four tablespoons of raw sugar and simmer the aromatic mixture 
  • Next, add 2 to 3 teaspoons of tea powder and let it brew for 1 minute. (If you prefer your masala chai to have a stronger flavor, simmer for a few minutes) 
  • Alternatively, if you use tea leaves you’ll need to steep the tea. For this method, you need to switch off the heat after mixing water with spices. Add the tea leaves and let them steep for 3-4 minutes. Add hot milk and serve. 
  • Add ¼ cup of milk and simmer for a few minutes. 

Pour your hot tea into your mug using a tea strainer. Serve hot with snacks like biscuits, pakora, aloo tikki or vada. This powerful concoction is a soothing drink for cold, gloomy days. 

Can I Drink Chai When Pregnant? 

The answer to this is not definite. Yes, it is relatively safe to consume chai when you are pregnant but only in moderation. In general, if you consume one cup of chai per day it shouldn’t be a problem. 

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