Stop...don't buy a "box" of chai. There's no such thing. Ack!!
Next trip to the supermarket, I am going to put the entire shelf full of chai mix (mix?) in aseptic cartons into a shopping cart and send it rolling down F-- street. Peh!
Here is the Nepali recipe for chai. It's quite different than Kashmiri chai, (good for colds) or that made in India (especially that which is served in little clay cups which are thrown on the ground after use--dust to dust). No shortcuts, but it's worth it. It's best with waterbuffalo milk, but if you haven't got a waterbuffalo (slaughtered it for Dasign, did you?), use cow's milk. Praise Laxmi.
Put equal parts milk and water in a pan. Add a few crushed cardamom pods, whole cloves and cinnamon (crushed bark is nice, but powdered will do) and a few slices of fresh ginger, peeled or not. The more ginger, the more bite the chai will have. Don't be a snob about the spices, just use what you have.
At some point along here, you could add sugar. I often drink it without, but this is thought to be lacking spirit in the Nepalese view...Definitely not the sort of thing you'd offer company. For god's sake, don't use honey. Let yourself go. Cheap white sugar.
Now bring the half milk-half water (with spices) mixture to just short of boil. Stir it every so often.
When this mixture is hot, add some tea. Keep the heat up. I like a mixture of Assam (which is granular) and a good Darjeeling. Truth is, it's a waste of good Darjeeling. The cheapest tea (even dust tea) works fine. Too much tea will leave a bitter, tannic taste. Too little will make a good kids' drink.
Now, let this mixture boil up to the brim of the pot (assuming you are using a small saucepan). Blow on it. It will calm back down. Let it boil up again. Two or three times should do it.
Stir one last time. Pour the lot through a tea strainer into mugs, at least one of which should be chipped, unless you are serving the Queen. I cheat and fish out the ginger and put it in my cup. (I pre-heat the cups on cold mornings...a fetish, I confess, but in Nepal it was sometimes so cold that the water would freeze in the cups after rinsing and half the point of morning tea was to hold the hot cup.)
This is not called "chai" in Nepali. Or at least not outside the city and not until recently. It's called "tea." The Nepali word is "chia," (tea) or "dudh chia" (milk tea). This is the drink that woke up Siddhartha.
(Note for children: I am the only person ever to reside in Nepal and outside the British embassy compound who thought that slurping chai was mannerless. Slurp if you must. Most people do.)