How to make authentic delicious Karak tea / chai at home

by Danni B

Been searching for an authentic Karak tea recipe? Today I’m going to help you with how to make Karak tea at home! Karak chai tea is a hugely popular drink across the Arabian Gulf, in particular those that had influence from India. So even if you’re not able to travel, this is the perfect Karak Chai recipe to bring a little bit of the Arabian Gulf into your home. The recipe is super simple and easy! But don’t blame me if you get addicted to this delicious tea!

It can be hard to find good Karak recipes and often those in the region like to keep their exact spice blend secret! But don’t worry, after years of drinking Karak chai and experimenting, here is my personal recipe that’ll make absolutely perfect karak chai every time!

For me, I like my Karak chai to be on the “spicier’ side or more closely resembling Indian Masala tea from India. I’ve found it in places like Oman and the northern parts of the UAE, such as Ras Al Khaimah tend to have more spices. Which is where I became a big fan of the tea!

Whereas Dubai and places like Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. The Karak chai tends to be lighter in spices and more like a sugary milky tea. Called a Disco Chai in India! So I’ve based my recipe on the spicer version!

Article Contents

Utensils needed
Karak recipe
Recipe alternatives
The history of Thareed / Saloona

More Arabian Gulf recipes

What kitchenware and utensils do I need?

Karak doesn’t need many items at all, I use the following:
– A large saucepan
– Heat resistant spoon for stirring
– Tea strainer or fine mesh sieve
– Spice grinder or pestle & mortar (optional)

It’s a matter of preference, I personally just put whole spices if I’m feeling lazy but it won’t be as strong tasting and you may need to let it brew or sit for longer. You can pop them in the milk the night before to really infuse.

If you’re making it in a hurry, crushing the spices first is the perfect way to help fully release the flavour quickly.

One of my favourite brands for saucepans and cookware is Le Creuset, as they are very high quality and come with a lifetime guarantee. Also, their cast iron items don’t have any nasty none stick chemicals!

Karak Tea Recipe

4 Large Cups

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes


4 large cups of water water
1 large tin of evaporated milk (I prefer whole milk for creaminess)
2 strong black tea bags or 2 scoops of high-quality loose black tea leaves
1/2 tsp cinnamon sticks or cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp whole cloves
1 piece star anise
10 cardamom pods or crushed cardamom
2 tbsp of honey

Tip – Grinding all the spices will really bring out the flavour of the spices much more quickly and stronger. No need to de-seed the cardamom pods, just grind the whole thing and will only take 2 minutes in an electrical grinder or mixer.

Also evaporated milk is not the same as sweetened condensed milk which is a lot thicker. You could use that to sweeten it up if you prefer but it will make a different-tasting tea karak.

You can also get cardamom flavored evaporated milk if you’re wanting to save time or money on buying cardamom which can be expensive.

Method (How to make Karak chai):

  1. Take a large saucepan, pour the water and add evaporated milk into the pan.
  2. Add all the spices into the liquid and heat on medium-high.
  3. Keep stirring until the milk bubbles a little and then turn down to a medium low heat
  4. Let it simmer and add the black tea.
  5. Keep stirring with the spices and tea until the liquid turns to a golden beautiful caramel colour or darker if you prefer a strong tea.
  6. Turn off the heat.
  7. The best result is to leave this mixture overnight however if you need it in a hurry then let it sit for 30-60 minutes so the spices can really infuse into the liquid.
  8. Add the black tea bags and slowly re-heat on medium-high.
  9. Once heated finally add the honey to sweeten
  10. Once a little bit of steam starts coming off the tea, turn it down and keep stirring till it becomes a really nice dark golden brown colour. Now your Karak chai is ready!
  11. You can add water if you find you find you’ve over-boiled it a little or to cool it down slightly
  12. Serve karak chai in your nicest glass tea cups or tea pot, using the tea strainer to filter

Recipe alternatives:

There are so many ways you can experiment with your Karak chai recipe until you find the perfect blend for your tastes. You can add cardamom or cinnamon to the water and evaporated milk. With traditional Indian Masala Chai they also typically add either ground ginger or a small amount of fresh ginger.

It’s very popular in the Middle East to add a pinch of saffron to the mixture and does make it look quite pretty when serving it to guests.

You can also choose to add more or less spices to suit your tastes. Additionally, you can add more milk and sugar too to make it weaker or sweeter.

You can also use dairy alternative milk instead to make it vegan or reduce the saturated fat.

What is Karak tea and where did it come from?

The recipe is originally based from the popular street drink Masala Chai. It’s a strong black traditional tea with different spice mixes and evaporated milk added to make a deliciously addictive drink.

In the United Arab Emirates, you’ll find many Emirati houses serving this popular drink in the mornings and whenever guests come to visit. This also means different households have slightly different takes on what spices they add to the tea and keep their exact spice mix a closely guarded secret.

What is the difference between Karak and Chai tea?

If you mean a Chai Tea Latte:

Karak chai and Chai tea share many similarities in terms of taste and preparation. Both are spiced tea made with a base of black tea, which is brewed with a blend of aromatic spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. For Chai tea is then mixed with a large amount of steamed milk and sweetened with sugar or honey to create a much more frothy and lighter drink. Versus Karak chai which uses evaporated milk, allowing the flavours to come thru stronger for a strong tea.

Both offer a comforting warmth, bold flavours and cultural significance that have made them beloved around the world as delicious ways to savour the rich traditions of South Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine.

What is Kadak chai?

Kadak chai is the same as Karak Chai, just that some Middle East countries call it Kadak chai instead. It’s fragrant spices and tea to make a delicious tea.

Is Karak chai healthy?

Karak chai, like any other beverage, can be part of a healthy diet when consumed in moderation. It is made with black tea and spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves that are known for their potential health benefits. Black tea contains antioxidants that may help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and some types of cancer. The spices used in karak chai have also been linked to potential health benefits such as improved digestion and reduced inflammation.

However, it is important to keep in mind that karak chai is often sweetened with sugar or honey and made with evaporated milk which can add calories and fat to the drink. If you are watching your calorie or sugar intake, it may be best to enjoy karak chai in moderation or opt for a lighter version with less sugar and lower-fat milk alternatives.

More Arabian Gulf recipes

What more popular Gulf recipes? (More coming soon! Subscribe to my e-mail list for updates)
Simple but yummy Mahalabia (Arabic Milk Pudding)
Easy Luqaimat recipe plus make your own Luqaimat machine!
Tasty and comforting Chicken Thareed (Saloona / Stew)
Check out my other Khaleeji Recipes here

Want to learn more about Middle Eastern food and where to eat them in Dubai?
What is the traditional food of the UAE?
9 tasty Arabic desserts you must try

Now you know how to make Karak chai at home! I really hope you enjoy the recipe and let me know how you get on with it in the comments. I’m always adding different recipes from the Middle East onto my blog around information for helping people visit or move to Dubai!

I also sometimes go live on TikTok while I try different Middle Eastern recipes and if you try the recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram!

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Nandini September 3, 2022 - 5:17 am

Great recipe. I didn’t have any black tea bags on hand so I used some black loose leaf tea with bergamot and vanilla. I did not grind the spices, but it seemed to infuse pretty well after about 90 minutes. I used creamed raw honey to sweeten. Super easy, thanks so much for posting!

Danni B October 21, 2022 - 5:23 pm

Yeah black loose tea is also fine and actually is the traditional way to do it! Those spices sound lovely to add to the flavours. It’s fun to play around with and make your own style karak. I like to use tea bags as it’s less messy when pouring out


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