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Easy steps to make Karak Chai, the unique tea from South Asia

October 2nd, 2023

Originated in South Asia, Karak Chai, which means "strong tea", has seen its popularity spread to countries in the Middle East and the Arab world where it is also referred to as Kadak or Karak Tea. Fermented black tea leaves, ginger, and spices such as black pepper, cardamon, cinnamon, fennel, and cloves are used for making this extraordinary tea, giving it a strong taste and color when compared to regular English tea. Karak Chai usually contains a lot of sugar, but the volume varies depending on how it's made. Thanks to its strong but sweet taste, people of all ages enjoy drinking it.


In India, Karak Chai is often served in the morning as a street drink. Chaiwalas skillfully pour the tea from arm's length into small glasses. People would have this sweet beverage with a couple of biscuits.

This special caramel-colored tea has a flavorful taste.


The ingredients used for Karak Chai may vary, depending on where the tea is served, but they often include a strong black tea base, added with milk, sugar, water and several types of spices such as cardamom, cinnamon and ginger.

Some Karak Chai recipes may also include ingredients such as cloves, pepper, star anise, honey and saffron.

How to make Karak Chai


  • Black tea: Loose leaf tea is highly recommended, while Lipton yellow-label tea could be an alternative.
  • Fresh ground cardamom: pods are used to enhance the tea flavor.
  • Sugar: Any kind of sugar will suffice. However, agave nectar or honey can be used as a substitute.
  • Sweetened condensed milk: also used to enhance the flavor. If the tea has to be dairy-free, homemade almond milk or canned coconut milk can replace the condensed milk.
  • Saffron (Optional)


Boil 2 cups of water in a saucepan.

Add 1.5 heaping teaspoons of tea to each cup of water. This tea-to-water is the most essential part.

If tea bags are used, the ratio should be one-and-a half teabags for each cup, for a total of 3 tea bags.

Add the sugar, crushed cardamom pods (skip it if cardamom flavored evaporated milk is used) and saffron, and bring back to a boil.

Boil the tea with the evaporated milk (adjust the amount depending on how strong we like the tea).

Remove from heat immediately, allow the tea to cool for a few minutes before returning it to the heat and bring it back to a roaring boil.

Repeat this pattern for about 5 minutes, or until we have that lovely caramel color.

Pour the tea into glasses using a tea strainer and serve.

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