The Gift of Chai, DIY Masala Chai Bags

gift box

 By Salima Jivraj

It took me twelve years to accomplish, but I finally achieved one of my goals — my husband is now a chai drinker. But he’s also somewhat of a chai snob now as well since he only drinks it a certain way, made at a certain time, with certain ingredients. I had fun finding the mix he liked, and through that experimentation, I soon realized chai is a great gift with many possibilities. Next to water, tea is known to be the world’s most consumed drink so it’s a great “safe” gift for hard to shop for people on your list.

Creating a holiday chai gift set is pretty simple with easy to find household materials for the “chai bags”:

– coffee filters (unbleached, 8-12 cup size)

– embroidery thread

– needle

– scissors

– card stock cut into 3″ long x 1″ wide rectangles

– stapler


For the holiday season, here are some warm winter time concoctions:


Chocolate vanilla chai (sweetened):

– 2 tsp premium chocolate cocoa (I use Ghiradelli sweet ground chocolate)

– 1/2 tsp turbinado sugar

– 1 star anise

– 1-2 cinnamon sticks

– 4-5 cardamom pods, sliced open

– 1 inch vanilla bean sliced open

– 1 heaping teaspoon of black tea leaves


Gingerbread chai (sweetend):

– 5-6 coin-sized slices of fresh ginger

– 1/2 tsp turbinado sugar

– 1 inch vanilla bean sliced open

– 2-3 cinnamon sticks

– 1 heaping teaspoon of black tea leaves



Classic chai (smooth):

– 1 star anise

– 1-2 cinnamon sticks

– 4-5 cardamom pods

– 1/2 turbinado tsp sugar (optional)

– 1 heaping teaspoon of black tea leaves



Classic chai (spiced):

– 3 coin-sized slices of ginger

– 2 cloves

– 2-3 cinnamon sticks

– 3-4 cardamom pods

– 2-3 peppercorns

– 1 heaping teaspoon of black tea leaves


Each recipe will yield 1-2 cups of prepared chai and will be used to create 1 chai bag.


Constructing your chai bags is really quick and perfect for the non-crafty type! I use unbleached coffee filters because they’re a nice tan colour and look great with crisp white labels and black embroidery thread.


How to make chai bags:

First take your coffee filter and long piece of embroidery thread. You will sew using a very wide stitch around the perimeter of the filter approximately 2 inches down from the top edge. You should use enough thread so it wraps around the entire perimeter twice so that when you tighten, you have a long string to attach your label.


Once you have done a wide stitch around the perimeter, tighten it slightly to create a well. Add your ingredients into the well and tighten the bag closed. Tie a knot to keep the bag closed.

At the other end of the string you can attach little paper tags with a handwritten monogram:

  • fold the 3″ rectangles in half so when folded the size is 1.5″ x 1″.
  • Staple shut after looping the knotted end of the string in the fold.

 Note: You can place your chai bags in a gift box as pictured but it’s important to note that there are fresh ingredients that are perishable and will not last long if not stored properly. It’s better to place your chai bags in an air-tight package or container and let the recipient know as well. If you are using any recipe with fresh ginger, it’s best to use the chai bags within a week for the best taste.


Not everyone knows how to make a cup of traditional chai on the stove top so here is the method I use which you can include as directions with your gift set:


Directions for 1-2 cups of chai:

  • In a medium sauce pan add 1-1/2 cups of water over medium/high heat.
  •  Add 1 chai bag and bring the water to a low rolling boil for 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cups of milk. Be careful at this point because milk froths quickly and will boil over making a big mess – do not leave unattended!
  • Bring the chai to a low boil again lowering the heat if you notice the milk frothing too much.
  • Simmer for 2 minutes and remove from heat.
  • Pour into cups and enjoy with some biscuits or cookies.


*I’d love to hear some other ways you can present your chai gift sets so leave a comment below with your ideas!*

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  1. Indu

    Hubby is a hard core coffee drinker, but I have gotten him to drink tea in the evenings when he wants to just chill and needs a hot drink. I’m not as creative as you, but gave a “relaxation theme” gift to my daughter’s friend for graduation…a box of an herbal tea, a pretty cup and saucer, stationery with her initials, and a fragrant candle. It was more about the experience, though. I love how your package is all about the tea!

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