Glass mug of tea with star anise floating on top
Masala Vs. Irani Chai: What's The Distinction?
Chai, meaning tea in Hindi, is a rich, sweet, and spicy beverage enjoyed across South Asia and the Middle East. The drink comes in a few varieties, such as masala and Irani chai.
Masala chai is the most well-known kind of chai around the world. It dates back over 5,000 years, to when Indian emperors are said to have first enjoyed it.
Masala chai uses milk; spices like nutmeg, ginger, cloves, star anise, and cinnamon; and a base of black tea. The ingredients are simmered together in the same pot.
Meanwhile, Irani chai was created by Iranian settlers in India. It has similar ingredients to masala chai, but a distinctly different preparation.
Irani chai is made with two pots, one for heating milk and the other for heating the spices in water. This helps the chai develop deeper flavors and the milk to thicken slightly.
Irani chai also traditionally uses buffalo milk instead of cow's milk. Buffalo milk has a higher fat concentration, and is typically clotted or pulled for a creamier beverage.
Masala chai is easy to find in many countries. You can make an Iranian-inspired chai by brewing chai separately while you heat up your milk of choice, then combining the two.