Thursday, April 25, 2013

East African Chai Tea

One of my favorite drinks in Uganda was the chai tea commonly served in the mornings and evenings. How it was prepared varied slightly depending on who was making it, but it's very simple to make, and I thought I'd share the recipe with you, too!

Okay, but here's the thing. There isn't really a recipe...

Much like my explanation on how to make Ugandan rolex, there aren't exactly precise measurements, and everyone makes their tea differently. So! With that being said, here are the basic steps on how to make your own Ugandan chai tea.

You'll need:
  • milk
  • water
  • loose-leaf black tea (strong Lipton tea bags would also work)
  • tea masala 
  • sugar
  • mesh strainer

1. In a pot, combine equal parts milk and water. For a more authentic version, use whole or 2% milk. For the MOST authentic version, buy your milk fresh from the milkman in the morning from the back of his delivery bike.

2. Add a pinch or teaspoon (or two... depending on how much tea you're making and how spicy you like it) of tea masala. This is what gives the chai its yummy, aromatic flavor.

In Uganda, we use Tropical Heat's tea masala mixture.* It is made up of ginger, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, black pepper, and nutmeg. Go ahead and experiment with creating a balance of flavors that you like best! Normally, ginger and cinnamon would be the strongest flavors.

A homemade mixture might look something like this: 2 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1-2 tsp. ground ginger**, 1 tsp. ground cloves, 1 tsp. ground cardamom, 1/2 tsp. nutmeg, 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper.

3. Heat mixture over a medium heat, watching it carefully so it doesn't boil over and giving it an occasional stir. Bring the mixture to a simmer, and add loose-leaf black tea... approximately one teaspoon per cup of liquid.

4. Allow it to steep on low heat for 5-8 minutes or until tea reaches desired strength. I like my chai stronger, so I let it steep until the milk is a nice tan color.

5. Strain tea through a fine, mesh strainer into individual glasses or into a thermos.

6. If you take it like most Ugandans and I do, you'll want to sweeten your cup of chai with sugar before drinking. Preferably raw cane sugar. And lots of it!

cup of bliss

* I cannot vouch for the authenticity of this website :)
** grated, fresh ginger would also work


  1. Hi - someone in our office brought me some Uganda Chai Tea and since then I am positively hooked! It's fabulous - so rich and flavoursome. I love it!

  2. Buy Loose Leaf Tea, Earl Grey Tea, Royal Masala Chai, Assam Tea offer finest flavor & health benefits