Inspired living

Sticky Chai Tea Recipe

Dairy-free Chai Tea

Image: Lee Holmes

Since tasting authentic chai, I’ve been tinkering around for years trying to perfect my own version that can live up to the hype. My motto is, if at first you don’t succeed, chai and chai again.

I believe a good chai needs to be well balanced with spices, have a warmth and sweetness, give you a big hug from first to last sip and its whole should be greater than the sum of its parts.

So, you may be asking, what goes into making a good chai? A good chai needs to be the perfect temperature, creamy enough to be warm and comforting, but not too sweet that it overpowers the spices. My dairy-free chai spice mix (masala tea) consists of a mix of spices, including cardamom pods, ginger, cinnamon, whole cloves, star anise, fennel seeds and saffron. This simple recipe makes for the perfect pick-me-up, and as a bonus it makes the house smell like Christmas!

Serves: 2




  • Chai Mix
  • Makes: 1 jar
  • 12 cardamom pods
  • 2.5cm piece of ginger
  • 3 cinnamon quills
  • 4 star anise
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1½ cups English breakfast tea leaves
  • 1 tbsp vanilla, liquid or powder
  • ¼ cup honey
  • Pinch saffron (optional)
  • Sticky Chai Tea
  • 3 tbsp chai mix
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ cup milk of choice
  • Ground cinnamon, to serve
  1. To make the chai mix, in a small pan, toast cardamom pods, ginger, cinnamon, star anise, whole cloves and fennel seeds.
  2. Transfer to a blender or mortar and pestle and smash or whizz until pieces are chunky.
  3. Place all ingredients in a bowl and stir in vanilla and honey to coat. I usually do this bit with my hands. Add saffron, if using.
  4. Keep in airtight container, I store mine in the cupboard.
  5. To make the tea, place 3 tbsp of chai mix and 2 cups of water in a small saucepan over a medium heat.
  6. Heat slowly and then turn down to a simmer (this will protect the nutrients in the honey as rapid heat can destroy them).
  7. Add ½ cup of oat milk and warm gently.
  8. Turn heat off and let steep for 5 mins, allowing the flavours to mingle.
  9. Strain into a mug and top with ground cinnamon.


Lee Holmes

Lee Holmes is a nutritionist, yoga and meditation teacher, wholefoods chef, Lifestyle Food Channel’s Healthy Eating Expert, blogger and author of the best-selling books Supercharged Food: Eat Your Way to Health, Supercharged Food: Eat Yourself Beautiful, Eat Clean, Green and Vegetarian, Heal your Gut, Eat Right for Your Shape and Supercharged Food for Kids.

Lee’s food philosophy is all about S.O.L.E. food: sustainable, organic, local and ethical. Her main goal is to alter the perception that cooking fresh, wholesome, nutrient-rich meals is difficult, complicated and time-consuming. From posting recipes, her passion to share her autoimmune disease story and help others has snowballed and the blog has recently taken home the overall prize at the Bupa Health Influencer Awards as well as the best blog in the Healthy Eating category. She also runs a four-week online Heal Your Gut program.