On the Indian subcontinent, chai ("tea") is not traditionally a beverage of tea bags doused with water and milk and possibly sweetened. Classic North Indian chai encourages customized gustatory and sensory experiences of the hot, loose-leaf beverage via preferential selections of spices.
There is no standard recipe for masala chai ("spice tea"). The spice mixture varies by many factors, such as by region, by family, by occasion, by purveyor.
The abundance of chai wallahs and wallis (male and female roadside and street tea beverage vendors) evinces the popularity of masala chai throughout the Indian subcontinent. Businesses receive tea beverage deliveries in iconic chaidaans (metal- or wooden-framed cup carriers).