Image of brewed karak chai in a glass cup amongst other chai ingredients.

What is Karak Chai? The Tea Centre recipe

The Tea Centre is serving up the history & a recipe for how to make Karak Chai at home! A close cousin of Masala Chai, learn more about Karak Chai in our Tea Journal entry below.

What is Karak Chai?

Karak Chai—also known as kadak chai—is a creamy spiced black tea that’s extra rich due to the championing of cardamom (the main spice component) and the addition of evaporated milk. This richness is alluded to in the name itself! A Hindi phrase, karak chai approximately translates to ‘strong tea’ in English.

How is it different from other chai?

While both karak chai and masala chai originate from the Indian subcontinent, karak chai has become more widely adopted in the Middle East, to the point where it’s become a cultural icon in countries like Qatar, Pakistan, and the UAE. 

Moreover, while masala blends are always a motley crew of Ayurvedic ingredients, Karak Chai will almost always contain cardamom and tend to gravitate towards a ‘less is more’ philosophy when it comes to spice. The reason why cardamom takes the crown over other common spices like ginger, cinnamon, and clove lies in Ayurveda.

Ayurveda-Tea-Cardamom-Pods

Namely, cardamom is thought to be a tridoshic, meaning it contains an even balance of all three dosha (energies): kapha, pitta, and vata. Conversely, humans are thought to always have one dosha that is dominant over the others, leaving us unbalanced. Luckily, because cardamom contains all three dosha, it’s a suitable herb for all sippers no matter their prakriti (constitution/personal distribution of dosha). 

Another major difference is karak chai is made with evaporated milk as opposed to dairy milk. For this reason, it has a much creamier and velvety mouthfeel than stovetop chai. The origin of adding evaporated milk to chai is unknown. However, given chai is a hawker-style beverage in many countries across the world, the fact that evaporated milk is longer lasting compared to standard milk definitely worked in its favour.

Karak Chai Recipe

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 perfect cup spoons of any cardamom-black tea blend
    I.e. Masala/Mumbai Chai or Vanilla Chai/East India Earl Grey for a milder karak chai. Sticky Chai is also suitable.
  • 250ml unsweetened evaporated milk 
    Tip: have a dairy allergen/intolerance? Oat milk (particularly oat milk specifically manufactured for frothing) is our favourite alternative, as it’s creamier and more neutral taste-wise in comparison to nut milk.
  • 250ml water

UTENSILS

Optional: 1–2 perfect cup spoons of coconut brown sugar to add extra sweetness and rich colour to the chai. If you want to up the spice factor, 2–3 cardamom husks and a sprinkle of cinnamon won’t go astray. 

METHOD

  1. Pour the water into the chai brewing point and bring to a boil.
  2. When bubbles start forming, add your cardamom-black tea blend of choice along with optional sugar and extra spices. Simmer the mixture for five minutes or until the spices are fragrant.
  3. Lower the heat slightly before adding in the milk and evaporated milk. Stir to ensure all ingredients are incorporated well before leaving to simmer (just under boiling) for another five minutes.
  4. After five minutes and the mixture is a creamy caramel colour, carefully take the chai brewing pot off the heat. Using a cone strainer, strain the mixture into your favourite cup and enjoy!  

Ready to make chai at home? Shop the chai range or a complete kit at The Tea Centre today!

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