Karak chai tea is a cardamom milk black tea that originated in India, however, migrated to many other regions of the world. I have been in Abu Dhabi for nearly 2 years before I had the privilege of tasting Karak chai tea.
It happened on a semi-cold winter night in the desert. I was sitting by the wood fire pondering what I wanted to do with my life. A friend handed me a cup of Karak chai tea. I just took one sip and my entire focus shifted. Wow, so many sweet flavors in such a small little cup.
Have you ever heard the saying life is a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get - Forest Gump. Well, I think that life is a cup of Karak, we see what we pay attention to. And thankfully now that I have this cardamom milk tea on my radar, I see Karak tea shops everywhere!
Ingredients You'll Need:
- Black Tea: My preference is to use loose leaf black tea, but you can use Lipton yellow label black tea as well. I explain a little more below the modifications needed if using Lipton yellow label instead of loose-leaf black tea.
- Fresh Ground Cardamom: Fresh cardamom is what makes this tea so flavorful. I recommend freshly ground cardamom pods.
- Sugar: I use sugar in the raw, however, any type of sugar will work. You can also substitute agave nectar or honey.
- Sweetened Condensed Milk: This makes the tea so delicious! The brand I use is Rainbow, but any type of canned sweetened condensed milk will work. If you would like to make this drink dairy-free, you can substitute homemade almond milk or canned coconut milk. If omitting sweetened condensed milk, you will need to add a bit more sugar.
- Saffron: If you have saffron on hand, I recommend adding a few threads to each cup.
You will also need:
Step By Step Instructions for Making Karak Tea
- Bring the tea and ground cardamom to a boil. If using loose leaf tea, boil for 15 minutes. If using Lipton yellow label tea, boil for 5 minutes.
- Add the sugar and condensed milk.
- Boil for another 2 to 3 minutes.
- Strain the milk in a tea strainer.
- Enjoy while hot!
How To Ground Cardamom Pods
The biggest tip I have for making Karak chai milk tea is to use freshly ground cardamom pods. The cardamom balances out the black tea and sweetness from the condensed milk. I use my coffee grinder to grind the cardamom pods. A spice grinder can be used as well.
If you don't have access to a spice grinder or coffee grinder, you can use a meat tenderizer which is like a big hammer. Place the cardamom pods in a plastic bag. Put the plastic bag on a cutting board and hit the pods with the meat tenderizer or hammer. You just want to crush the pods so that the flavors infuse into the tea.
Substitutions for Loose Leaf Black Tea
The best black tea for this recipe is loose leaf black tea, but there are a few substitutions that will work as well. Lipton yellow label is easy to find in grocery stores in the US, Egypt, and the UAE.
If using Lipton yellow label black tea, boil the ground cardamom pods for the first 10 minutes alone. Add the tea for the last 5 minutes because this tea is a lot stronger.
I haven't tried making this tea with generic black tea bags, so I'm not sure how it will turn out.