Homemade Vanilla Chai Recipe

Kindi Lantz May 02, 2019

How to Make Vanilla Chai from Scratch

The other day, a friend of mine told me he didn’t like chai. I was astonished. I found it hard to believe that there's a single person residing on this planet who doesn’t enjoy the taste of chai! My mind was blown. Later, I stop by his family’s home with a large jar of homemade chai. Reluctantly, he tried it and…loved it! The table’s had turned, now it was his mind that had been boggled!  

Sometimes, you just need a good recipe to change the way you think about particular types of food and drink!

The recipe I used to alter his preferences was my own creation—a homemade vanilla chai made with Ugandan vanilla beans, loads of Darjeeling tea, and some of the finest and most beautifully fragrant spices known to humankind.

Even if you are someone who believes oneself to be anti-chai, like my friend, this recipe is worth making for the way it will make your house smell. The combination of ginger, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and licorice (from the star anise and fennel seed) is incorporated into steam that wafts through the air and begets a feeling that can only be described as a combination of calm, refreshed, and alert.

These ingredients truly pull together to produce something spectacular

Spicy Chai with Ugandan Vanilla Bean

Yield: 10-12 servings


  • 10 cups water
  • Fresh ginger shaved using the back of a spoon until you have a ¼ cup
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 10 cardamom pods, slightly crushed with the back of a spoon
  • 3 Ceylon cinnamon sticks
  • 3 vanilla beans
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon fresh, grated nutmeg
  • 1 piece star anise
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • ½ cup loose leaf Darjeeling tea
  • 4 cups half and half
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup


  1. Split and chop your vanilla beans into about 4-6 pieces per bean.
  2. Mix all ingredients except the tea, half & half, and maple syrup into a large cooking pot and bring the water to boil. Let boil for 3 minutes and then reduce the heat to simmer.
  3. Let simmer for 30 minutes
  4. Pull from the burner, add tea, cover, and let sit for 20-30 more minutes.
  5. Strain the tea through a fine sieve and return the liquid back to the pot.
  6. Bring the temperature back up to a rolling boil and turn down to a simmer.
  7. Stir in the half and half and maple syrup.

Serving Suggestions

Serve immediately or refrigerate and either heat for future uses or serve over ice. Sprinkle with a bit of fresh Ceylon cinnamon powder and grated nutmeg. Not a dairy drinker? This recipe can also be made with coconut cream or another non-dairy alternative in place of the half and half (or you can drink it black).

Store-bought chai doesn’t even begin to compare to spicy vanilla chai made from scratch, made with top-tier spices and teas. Make sure you are using the real thing in its purest form, like true cinnamon, pure maple syrup, freshly grated nutmeg, and whole vanilla beans, rather than the cheap alternatives found in most supermarkets!

You can find some of the ingredients for this recipe here.



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