Finding the right South Asian teas
There’s no greater joy than a perfect cup of tea. Tea in South Asian cultures is a staple be it any time of the day or year. Whether battling the snowstorms in January or working up a sweat in the August heat, the right chai can be the perfect partner in the buddy comedy that is life. To encourage you on your chai journey, here are five South Asian teas for every mood!
Cutting Chai for Main Character Vibes
If you’ve ever wanted to be Kate Sharma from Bridgerton, this milk-based tea is the perfect chaperone! Hailing from Mumbai, India, cutting chai literally translated means “cut into half” or a “small tea”, perfect for on-the-go. Usually served in a transparent tea glass at tapris (tea stalls) across Mumbai, this flavorful tea definitely brings the magic to everyday life.
Cutting chai uses loose tea leaves that need to be boiled for five-seven minutes, in high heat for the rich spices of cardamom and ginger to emulsify with the milk. Add sugar as needed, and serve immediately.
Darjeeling Black Tea for the Early Bird
From Darjeeling, India – this water based tea is alternatively known as “the champagne of teas.” With a high caffeine concentration, this simple tea is suited for the early risers looking for a morning fix.
Add a teaspoon or two of loose Darjeeling tea leaves into a heated teapot. Boil the water, allowing it to rest for 30 seconds to a minute before pouring into the tea. Let it steep for three minutes and then it’s ready to be served. (Add sugar and lemon as required)
Ceylon Orange Tea, the Post Nap Fix
Have you ever awoken from a lazy Sunday afternoon siesta not knowing which century it was? If the answer was yes, this refreshing tea is just what the doctor ordered. From Nuwara Eliya, Srilanka, this orange-infused tea can be served both hot and cold. Often labeled a self-drinker, this tea barely needs any enhancements because it’s perfect on its own.
Add two teabags of Ceylon Orange Pekoe to a heated teapot. Pour in boiling water, and steep for three to five minutes. Add milk and sugar as required. If serving iced, lemon wedges can be added.
Elaichi Chai, A Heartbreak Cure
When the dull blade of heartbreak hits, words often fail to soothe the gaping wound. This is unlike Eliachi tea, who’s strong flavours almost never miss the mark. Local to Pakistan and India, this strong masala and milk fused tea is strong enough to mend all matters of the heart.
Crush cardamom pods, and add it to boiling water and loose tea. Boil milk separately. Once the water reduces to half, add the milk. Boil on low flame for three minutes, whisking the mixture as you go. Once the consistency becomes thicker, strain into tea glasses. Serve with sugar if required.
Goan Rose Tea, the Sleep Tea
If Mr. Sandman continues to elude you, this tea is just right for a night cap. Popular in the South of Goa, India – this tea is the perfect evening drink. Made from the fragrant petals of the rose bush, this aromatic tea is completely caffeine free, making it a worthy nighttime companion.
Boil two teaspoons of rose tea leaves in water for three minutes. Once the water begins to simmer, add sugar if required. Allow the tea to cool for a minute, and serve.
South Asian teas are an eclectic mix, and as demonstrated above can be consumed in so many ways. Asian cultures as a whole have so many varying tea ceremonies and traditions that support how truly diverse the continent is. So the next time you need a caffeine fix, remember our trusty sidekick – the South Asian tea!
Help us uplift Asian diaspora voices
Support Cold Tea Collective with a monthly contribution to help ensure stories for and by the next generation of the Asian diaspora are here to stay.