Chai is the hindi word for tea. Specifically, chai is black tea and milk (sugar and spices are optional). Chai is a quintessential Indian beverage, and is the most consumed beverage next to water.
The key to a good cup of chai is the tea itself and the method of preparation. The tea from Assam region (the largest tea-growing region in India) is known for its boldness and is best suited for chai as it holds its flavor when combined with milk and spices. The right way to make chai is to boil the tea with milk.
In the US, "chai" found in most cafes is made by steaming milk with a tea concentrate. We wish more cafes would label their chai drink as Chai Latte as it is made latte style. Even though flavor profile of a latte-style chai is very different from traditional Indian chai (where the milk and the tea are boiled together), we thank Starbucks and Oregon Chai for making chai so popular in the US.
There is no standard recipe for Masala Chai (spiced tea). Every household in India has their own way of making it. Some of the common spices used to make chai is ginger, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and black pepper.