Tea is a big part of Indian culture. You can be sure to find a tea stall anywhere you go – even in the smallest villages. Indian tea was commercialized by the British, and since then it has become increasingly popular. In America, you often hear it called “Chai Tea”. When that term became popular, my family began to groan at the irony of it. “Chai” is actually the Indian word for “tea”. In our minds, everyone was saying “tea tea”. Now I’m more used to the phrase as chai has really become a variety of tea rather than Indian tea. I don’t cringe (as much) anymore. 😝
Here in India, tea is often served without any spices added to it. The four ingredients are tea powder/leaves, water, milk, and sugar! However, if you walk into a restaurant and order “Masala Tea”, you will get something more like my recipe below. “Masala” is simply a blend of spices. In my father’s state language, the word for tea is “chaa”, but the term “chai” is used frequently as well.
You can experiment with the spices you use in it. In my recipe, I only included ginger and cardamom, yet some people like to add black peppercorns, cinnamon, or clove. The recipe as a whole might look a little daunting at first glance but give it a try. Once you have made it a few times, you can own the recipe. You will learn to make it precisely how you like it and you won’t need to look at the recipe anymore!
Tea is the main social drink in India, just like coffee is in America. While coffee shops are becoming somewhat popular here due to Western influence, the tea stalls still have the upper hand! I love being able to go just about anywhere and get a real cup of chai…none of that tea bag nonsense. Give this girl a nice, steaming cup of real Indian chai, and I will be in my happy place. Lois and I both feel this way about tea and thankfully our husbands have also learned that they can make our day by bringing us a cup. 😊
The tea we use daily in India is available at some Indian stores in the States. It will be cheaper to buy it at an Indian store than online, if you want the exact same type that we use. However, pretty much any loose black tea will work out for you. I should warn you, though, that the amount of tea and boiling time in the recipe will vary depending on the strength of your tea leaves or powder. Here are some Amazon links to the two kinds of tea that we buy here in India. Red Label Tea and Tata Gold Loose Tea .
If you look at your local Indian store and want to find the brands that we use, look for Brooke Bond Red Label Loose Tea or Tata Gold Loose Tea. Lois recently found the Tata Gold Loose Tea at her local Indian store for only $12 per kg (2.2 lbs). That is significantly cheaper than what we have seen online!
With no further adieu, here is the recipe below. Do enjoy! 🙂 – India
- Metal saucepan
- Tea strainer
- 3 tbsp Loose black tea powder or leaves
- 4 cups Water
- 2 cups Whole milk
- 2 tsp Fresh ginger (optional) Grated or finely chopped
- 6-8 Cardamom pods (optional)
- Sweeten as desired Honey, Jaggery, Sugar, or Xylitol are recommended.
- Add water and tea powder to a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.
- While the water is coming to a boil, grate the ginger and peel or cut open the cardamom pods. Put the ginger and cardamom into the tea as it is heating (We put in the entire cardamom pod. Peeling them just releases more flavor into the tea.)
- Reduce heat to medium high and allow the tea to boil for around three minutes before adding the milk.
- Pour in the milk. Turn the heat down to low and allow the tea to come to a simmer (usually five minutes or less). You will know the tea is done when there is a nice layer of creamy “skin” at the top.
- Strain the tea into a tea pot, sweeten as desired, and enjoy!