Indian-Style Tea –and a Nathmulls Darjeeling Tea Giveaway!

I remember the first time I had a sip of tea. I was about 7 years old and in second grade. My best friend at the time, Anita, was spending the night and we decided to have a tea party. We raided my mom’s cupboards and found some old (antique) cups and saucers. We also managed to find a few tea bags. I didn’t know how to make tea– my parents never drank it– but we figured it couldn’t be that hard.

Anita turned on the faucet and filled the cups with hot water while I cut open the tea bags. We dumped the tea-dust into the cups of water and put them in the microwave for 5 minutes. While the tea was heating, Anita and I made a couple sandwiches–peanut butter and jelly; I believe. I remember being so excited to sit down, clink our cups together (cheers!) and drink tea. I felt like a grown up.

When our tea was finished in the microwave, we carefully took the very hot cups and placed them onto the saucers. We sat down at the table, giggling, and waited patiently for the tea to cool off enough to drink it. Once it was ready, we clinked the cups together (bad idea!…tea spilled everywhere) and took a sip.

As soon as the tea met my taste-buds, I knew tea was not for me. It was gritty and gross; and the look on Anita’s face showed me that she felt the same. We promptly dumped the tea down the sink, rinsed out our cups, and cracked open an orange Crush soda.

20 years have passed since my first experience with tea, and I’m glad to say it wasn’t my last. Now I enjoy many types of tea; sweetened and unsweetened, loose-leaf and bagged, Darjeeling and green.  Although I’ll drink nearly any kind now-days, I undoubtedly prefer the sweet– and sometimes spicy– Indian style tea.

This delicious beverage, commonly known as chai (in Hindi) or cha (in Bengali), is not the same “chai” you get if you order it at an American coffee shop (I’m lookin’ at you Starbucks!).  In America, Indian masala chai (mixed-spice tea) has become synonymous with the word chai; but chai is just a word for tea.  It’s not a type of tea…and it definitely does not come from artificial syrup (did you know that tea leaves are not even a listed ingredient on some of the syrups your favorite coffee shop uses to make your chai?).

In India, chai is most often made with black tea leaves, way too much sugar, thick, whole milk…and green cracked cardamom pods—if you’re lucky!

sweet, green cardamom pods

It can be found everywhere…and I do mean everywhere!  You can buy it for a couple rupees at the train station, served in tiny paper cups;  or along the roadsides, where scant amounts are poured into tiny earthenware vessels; and if you’re lucky enough to be invited into an Indian home, you’re sure to be offered a steaming glass of creamy chai…with biscuits to dunk!

My mother and father-in-law (Maa and Baba), taught me how to make proper Indian-style tea…and for that, I am thankful!  When preparing tea, they never really used exact measurements.  Instead, they relied on color and taste.  It took me awhile, but I think I’ve finally got it figured out (Baba, if you’re reading this…you’d be proud)!

Not only do I intend to share with you, dear reader, how to make Indian-style chai (and masala chai!), but I would also like to give you a chance to try some Darjeeling loose-leaf tea that I bought in Darjeeling, myself!  This is not the Darjeeling tea you find lining your supermarket or co-op shelves…nooo…this is the real deal!

Darjeeling Loose Leaf Tea...and a strainer! The tea was purchased at Nathmulls in Darjeeling. If you want to learn more about it click here.

If you’d like a chance at trying some Darjeeling tea for yourself, here’s your chance!  I’m having a  giveaway, and one lucky reader will receive the package of tea and tea strainer shown above!

To enter, simply leave a comment telling me how you like to drink your tea!  It’s that easy!

The giveaway ends Friday, April 6 at 7:00 p.m. Central Time.  The giveaway is only open to U.S. residents aged 18+ (sorry!).  Be sure to include a valid email address with your comment…if you win, I want you to know!  I’ll choose the winner randomly using’s random number generator.  If I don’t hear back from the winner by Monday, April 9 at 5:00 pm Central Time, a new winner will be chosen!

For an additional chance to win: Follow my blog or sign up for email updates.  Be sure to leave a comment letting me know if you did this!

If you already follow or subscribe, I appreciate it and you deserve an extra chance too!  Leave a comment letting me know!

My blog is pretty young yet…so the chances are good!

**The giveaway is now over!  Congrats, Mary Ella!  I hope you enjoy the tea!**

Now, on to the recipes!

Indian-Style Tea (with milk and sugar)

This can also be made using stevia, if you’re concerned about your sugar-intake.  I also make it with soymilk.  If you choose to do this be sure to add the soymilk at the end.  Don’t boil it, it will curdle!

This recipe yeilds 3- 80z. servings.

  • 2 c. water
  • 1 tbsp. loose leaf tea
  • 3 green cardamom pods, cracked (optional)
  • sugar, to taste (if you want the whole “Indian experience” toss in about 3 tbsp–seriously.)
  • 3/4 c. milk (whole milk, if you want to keep it real)


  • Heat 2 c. water in a small pot over med-high heat until it’s rapidly boiling.  Once it’s boiling, toss in the tea leaves (and a couple cardamom pods, if you want), cover the pot, and turn off the heat.  Let the tea steep for about 5 minutes.
  • Add sugar–to taste –and milk.  Stir to combine everything.  Turn heat back on and bring the tea back to a boil.  Once it boils…it’s done!  Don’t cook it for too long or it’ll turn a little bitter and taste funny.  Turn off the heat, strain, and enjoy!

Masala Chai

To make masala chai–  follow the same recipe and method as above, but also add:

  • small chunk of ginger, smashed (use as much as you would like, but remember…it’s strong!)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 green cardamom pods, crushed
  • small sliver of cinnamon
  • 4 peppercorns
  • 3 cloves

Add these spices, whole, to the water when you add the tea leaves.  Experiment with the quantities of spices and find the mix that is just right for you!  …Everyone’s tastes are different!

If you want to make the chai really special for someone, add a whole cardamom seed to the bottom before straining the tea into the glass!  If you could say, “I love you” using spices…this is how you’d do it!

A spice-y surprise!



25 thoughts on “Indian-Style Tea –and a Nathmulls Darjeeling Tea Giveaway!

  1. Muthu

    Excellent post, gives me the craving to get Marie Biscuits to dunk in the tea. Like my tea sweet but once you start dunking the biscuits, the sweetness is all gone but tastes good.

    1. Shari Post author

      You’ll probably think this is funny. I bought “Maria” biscuits from the Indian store, and Piyush refused to eat them because they were not “Marie”…is there really a difference?!

      1. Muthu

        Picky Piyush 😉 I would have to see the label, the ‘Marie’ biscuits come in number of brands but the original is Britannia Marie Gold.
        Here’s a link to a picture:

      2. Shari Post author

        I asked the guy that runs the Indian store to see if he can get a couple packages for Piyush. That should hold him over!

  2. Mary Ella

    Yum, delicious post! I love my tea simple: Earl Grey with a bit of lemon and some stevia. Or, when it gets toasty in the summer, making mint tea by the pitcher is the only way to go!

  3. patty

    I “ve never tried loose tea before.When in Denmark our host family served Earl grey tea with every meal I was instantly hooked on that. I love your blog!

  4. Julie Palm

    Hi Shari, I love your blog it is wonderful, I look forward to reading it whenever you post. As for tea, iced tea is my favorite with a little lemon. I just tried a new (to me) tea, Good Times Sweet and Spicey, very good. Thanks again.

    1. Shari Post author

      Thank you Julie! I’m glad you like the blog…I thought it’d be fun!

      Where do you buy the good times sweet and spicy?

  5. Sand

    Thanks for the chai recipe! I drink black tea every morning, with a little bit of sugar and some ginger tea at night.

  6. Daphne

    I was first introduced to Indian style chai by my best friend’s mother while in college – and she makes it the exact same way as you do! I still love it and drink it as often as possible. For me it’s hot tea in the morning to start my day and iced tea with lunch or dinner.

  7. Amy Dixon

    I drink many different kinds of tea! My favorite it probably chai or green tea. And I love to drink it hot with sugar!

  8. Pingback: Chicken Tikka Masala! « My Fancy Pantry

  9. Greta

    Darjeeling is a great tea for a london fog… tea with steamed milk! It’s a special treat that I always look forward to in the fall. Otherwise I’m pretty too the point- unsweetened, black, and strongly steeped!

    1. Shari Post author

      I’ve never been to London…but I can imagine how wonderful it would be! When we stayed in Darjeeling, the mornings were often really foggy and very chilly. The tea was all I wanted. I didn’t even care if I had any food for breakfast, but I couldn’t live without that tea!

  10. Get senuke x

    My partner and I stumbled over here coming from a different page and thought I might as well check things out. I like what I see so now i’m following you. Look forward to exploring your web page yet again.

  11. sara

    I just found your blog and I do have to say that I am in love. so thank you– just up front.
    How I like my tea is loosed leaf but the only time I want tea is late at night after work so what I usually end up doing is making my tea about 15 minutes before work gets out and then putting it in a mug to drink on the car ride home(while my melatonin is kicking in) so by the time i get home, im all warm and fuzzy and worn out( from work and singing loudly on the car ride home at midnght) and ready for bed.

  12. Mary Ella

    I got home after driving almost nine hours from a working weekend, and I had a happy little package waiting for me that made my night! I’m SO excited to try this tea, I’m going to embark on my own little tea party tomorrow morning after a nice, sweaty Bikram yoga session. The cardamom pods were a most excellent edition, I think I’m going to make some shrimp fried rice with it later in the week.

    Seriously, THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOU!! You’re the best, Shari!

    1. Shari Post author

      You’re very welcome!!! I hope you enjoy the tea…and the cardamom!!! You’ll have to let me know how you like it! …and how the shrimp fried rice turns out!

  13. adnan

    I enjoyed the article. i could not help but be subtly charmed by the similarities in desis’ encounter with tea. i myself did not figure out the ‘essence’ of making doodh chai (as we call in Bangladesh) until i was 17


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