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Indian Tea

I love my Mum's tea - it has very few ingredients but there's something about the way she makes it. She doesn't have a recipe, she just eyeballs it and adjusts the ingredients slightly depending on the colour and smell.

In many Indian households, including my parents' home, they don't do tea-bag tea. It's got to be properly brewed tea with spices - a must first thing in the morning and again late afternoon, often after a short nap to feel refreshed. I love this ritual and when I'm in East Africa, the best thing with my morning tea is mandazi's (see recipe here). There's always a pot of tea, enough for anyone who drops by.

The way I make my tea has undoubtedly been inspired by my Mum's method. I've always eye balled it just like her, using my prized enamel tea pot from Kenya called a 'biriko'. It's a beautiful hand-painted pot that was gifted by a good friend and I'm pleased to say it's still going strong years later, despite all the scuffs, chips and tea stains it's encountered.

While my tea will never be the same as my Mum's, I thought I should try and note down the method as best as possible in honour of Mother's Day. So here's my recipe below. Please note I do adjust the ingredients based on the smell and colour and recommend you do the same according to your preference.

It's one of those recipes that I ended up figuring out through trial and error, and I know I add way more cardamom than is the norm (don't be shocked at the amount below!) but that's the way I like it.

Serves 4


  • 4 tea bags

  • 2 tsp brown sugar

  • 10 cardamom pods pounded in a pestle & mortar

  • 4 cups just boiled water from the kettle

  • A quarter of a cup of evaporated milk


  1. Put a pot on the hob on a medium heat and add the boiled water and tea bags

  2. After about a minute add the sugar and crushed cardamom

  3. Let it come to a rolling boil for a couple of minutes - you will get a lovely aroma of cardamom at this point

  4. Turn the heat up so it's boiling rapidly for about a minute

  5. Now add the milk and bring it back to a boil

  6. Then lower the heat to its lowest setting and let it slow boil for a few minutes

  7. The colour should be caramel’y brown - if it’s too dark, add a bit more milk and if it’s too light, cook for longer or add another tea bag

  8. When it’s almost ready, I like to increase the heat for a final rapid boil

  9. At this point, the tea will rise to the top of the pot and bubble away - keep an eye on this as it can very quickly overflow. Once it’s 3/4 of the way up, turn the heat back down and let it slow boil for another minute or so.

  10. Your tea should now be ready - check the colour again, adjust if required and serve!

The strength of your tea will depend on the type of tea bags you use. Feel free to use tea leaves too - that is the traditional way. I like to add a tiny bit of sugar in my mug as I find a bit of sweetness brings out the flavour.

Some additional options:

Depending on my mood, sometimes I like to add saffron or freshly grated ginger.

If adding saffron, add a few strands when the tea is almost done so you get the beautiful aromas.

If adding ginger, grate a thumb size piece and put it into the liquid after you’ve added the milk. I like mine quite gingery as it gives a nice kick.

Naeema x


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