Chai tea generally refers to a drink made from black tea, milk, spices and sometimes a sweetener. In other parts of the world, "chai" is a generic term for tea while "masala chai" refers to the spiced tea drink.
The spicy, milky tea drink known as chai in North America is popular in India and is served as a soothing drink that aids digestion. Chai tea has been around for centuries in other parts of the world. The specific spices used in the drink vary by region. Common additions to chai tea include ginger, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and pepper. Vanilla is another ingredient that tea drinkers often add to chai tea.
Milk is another ingredient that distinguishes chai from other teas. Coffee shops often serve chai tea lattes with heated or steamed milk. Others serve the spiced tea chilled as an iced chai tea latte.
At home, tea drinkers can use chai tea bags or loose chai tea mixes to brew a cup. Another option is to mix a combination of spices to add to black tea. Some tea manufacturers sell chai tea concentrate that consumers mix with milk to make the beverage. Another option is to buy a pre-made masala chai spice mix, which is often available at Indian grocery stores.