Kadak Chai: Your New Favourite Spiced Chai

Kadak Chai - One Cup of Chai

What is Kadak Chai?

Kadak Chai is a strong and flavourful tea that’s much more than just a drink; it’s a whole experience that delights the senses and comforts the heart. This Indian tea, famous for its intense taste, is a key part of everyday life, offering a break and refreshment during busy days.

This article will take you deep into the world of Kadak Chai, showing what makes it so special. We’ll look back at its history, from its origins in India to becoming beloved around the world. We’ll also examine its ingredients closely, showing how they come together to make Kadak Chai both a personal joy and a shared delight.

Next, we’ll show you how to make Kadak Chai the traditional way, blending art with science to brew a tea that’s both energizing and calming. We’ll also discuss how Kadak Chai brings people together, symbolizing hospitality and warmth, and helping to build and strengthen connections.

Finally, we’ll explore the different ways Kadak Chai is made in various regions, each with its own twist and traditions, like the ginger-packed Adrak Chai in the north and the simple Sulaimani Chai in the south. Each version has its own story and charm.

Come with us on this tasty journey to learn all about Kadak Chai. Whether you’re already a fan or just getting to know it, this trip will make you appreciate Kadak Chai even more, and might even inspire you to find your perfect mix.

History of Kadak Chai: Tracing the Roots

The history of Kadak Chai is fascinating, full of tradition, culture, and changes over time. This part looks at where Kadak Chai came from, how it went from old ceremonies to being popular everywhere today, and how it’s connected to Masala Chai. We’ll also look at how different local versions of Kadak Chai have come to be.


Kadak Chai started in the Indian subcontinent, a place where people have enjoyed tea for thousands of years. The idea of making Kadak Chai, which is a mix of strong black tea and spices, is a newer addition to the area’s long history of tea.

  • Ancient Beginnings: Originally, tea in India was used for its medicinal properties, with herbs and spices added for health benefits. The British colonial era introduced the commercial cultivation of tea, primarily in Assam and Darjeeling, changing the landscape of Indian tea consumption.
  • Cultural Adoption: Over time, tea became a popular beverage across all layers of Indian society. The addition of milk and spices to create a more flavourful and invigorating drink led to the birth of what is now known as Masala Chai, the precursor to Kadak Chai.

Relationship with Masala Chai

Kadak Chai is like a stronger version of Masala Chai, known for its bold taste and the strong flavour of its spices. To make Masala Chai into Kadak Chai, you not only make the tea stronger but also add more spices to it.

  • Masala Chai: The traditional Masala Chai is a sweet and spicy tea made with black tea, milk, sugar, and a blend of spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and pepper. It’s a milder, sweeter beverage compared to Kadak Chai.
  • Evolution to Kadak Chai: Kadak Chai amplifies the characteristics of Masala Chai, focusing on a stronger brew and a more intense spice profile. This evolution caters to those who prefer a more robust and invigorating tea experience.

Global Journey and Renaming

As the popularity of this spiced tea spread beyond the Indian subcontinent, regional adaptations gave rise to new names and variations, reflecting local tastes and traditions.

  • Karak Chai in the Middle East: In the Arabian Gulf, particularly in countries like Qatar and the UAE, Kadak Chai became known as Karak Chai. This version often emphasizes a heavier use of cardamom and sometimes saffron, catering to the local palate. The term ‘Karak’ itself is derived from ‘Kadak’, retaining the essence of a strong, flavourful tea.
  • Adaptations Across Borders: Each region has adapted Kadak Chai to its own culinary traditions, incorporating local spices, varying the milk-to-water ratio, or altering the brewing techniques to create unique versions that resonate with local tea drinkers.

Kadak Chai has kept its unique qualities while also taking in new tastes and influences, becoming a drink enjoyed around the world. Its story shows how it has changed and adapted over time, just like the ever-evolving culture of tea across the globe.

Ingredients of Kadak Chai

Kadak Chai is loved not only for its strong flavour but also for the mix of ingredients that make it special. This part will look at the key parts of Kadak Chai, pointing out the main ingredients and showing how you can change the recipe to fit your own tastes and needs.

Core Components

At its heart, Kadak Chai is a simple concoction, yet each ingredient plays a pivotal role in shaping its distinctive flavour profile. Here are the foundational elements:

  1. Water: The base of any tea, water’s quality can significantly influence the overall taste of the chai.
  2. Black Tea: The backbone of Kadak Chai, black tea provides the robust flavour and deep color characteristic of this drink. Assam or Darjeeling teas are commonly used for their strong flavours.
  3. Milk: Adding creaminess and a smooth texture, milk also helps to mellow out the strong tea and spices. Full-fat milk is traditionally used for its richness, but any variety can be employed based on personal preference.
  4. Spices: The essence of Kadak Chai lies in its spices – each one adding a layer of complexity and warmth.
  5. Cardamom (Elaichi): Known for its sweet and aromatic profile, cardamom is a staple in Kadak Chai.
  6. Ginger (Adrak): Adds a spicy kick and is cherished for its digestive and warming properties.
  7. Clove (Laung): Brings a pungent, sweet flavour that complements the other spices.
  8. Cinnamon (Dalchini): Imparts a woody sweetness and warmth, enhancing the overall bouquet of flavours.
  9. Fennel Seeds (Saunf): Offer a refreshing and slightly sweet note, balancing the spice mix.


Kadak Chai is great because you can change it however you like. This means anyone can enjoy their perfect cup of Kadak Chai, made just the way they prefer, fitting their tastes and dietary needs.

  • Spice Variations: While the spices listed above are traditional, there’s no hard and fast rule. Some may prefer the addition of peppercorns for extra heat, nutmeg for a sweet spice, or star anise for a licorice-like flavour. Experimentation is encouraged to find your perfect spice blend.
  • Milk Alternatives: For those who are lactose intolerant, vegan, or simply prefer a lighter version, a wide range of milk alternatives can be used. Almond, soy, oat, and coconut milk are popular choices, each adding its unique flavour and texture to the chai.
  • Sweeteners: While sugar is commonly used, sweeteners can be varied according to dietary preferences and health considerations. Honey, jaggery, stevia, or maple syrup can be excellent alternatives, each contributing a different flavour profile to the chai.
  • Strength Adjustments: The strength of Kadak Chai can be adjusted by varying the brewing time and the ratio of tea to water. For a stronger brew, increase the steeping time or the amount of tea leaves. Conversely, for a milder cup, reduce the tea quantity or steeping duration.

Through these customizable elements, Kadak Chai can be reinvented in countless ways, making it a truly personal and inclusive beverage. Whether adhering to tradition or venturing into new flavour territories, the key is to enjoy the process and savor the result.

Preparing Kadak Chai

Making the perfect Kadak Chai is like creating art, mixing tradition and your own personal style. This part gives a detailed guide on how to make Kadak Chai, with every step designed to make it strong and full of flavour. We’ll also give some pro tips to make your Kadak Chai even better, ensuring it’s not just strong but also wonderfully aromatic and very satisfying.

Brewing Guide

Follow these steps to create a traditional cup of Kadak Chai:

Gather Ingredients

  • Water: 1 cup
  • Black Tea Leaves: 1-2 teaspoons (depending on desired strength)
  • Milk: 1 cup (adjust according to preference)
  • Spices: Cardamom (2 pods, crushed), Ginger (1-inch piece, grated), Cloves (2-3), Cinnamon (a small stick), Fennel Seeds (½ teaspoon)
  • Sweetener: Sugar or alternative, to taste

Boil Water:

  • Begin by boiling 1 cup of water in a saucepan. The quality of water can affect the taste, so use filtered water if possible.

Add Spices:

  • Once the water comes to a boil, add the crushed spices. Allow them to simmer for 1-2 minutes to infuse the water with their flavours.

Introduce Tea Leaves:

  • Add the black tea leaves to the spiced water. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. The longer you simmer, the stronger the tea will be.

Pour in Milk:

  • Add milk to the saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil. Keep an eye on the pot as milk tends to boil over quickly.


  • Once the chai comes to a boil, reduce the heat and let it simmer for another 3-4 minutes. This process enhances the chai’s strength and allows the flavours to meld together.


  • Add sugar or your preferred sweetener, adjusting according to taste.

Strain and Serve:

  • Strain the Kadak Chai into cups, discarding the spices and tea leaves. Serve hot.

Flavour Tips

To elevate your Kadak Chai from good to exceptional, consider these flavour-enhancing techniques:

  • Crush the Spices: Use a mortar and pestle to lightly crush the spices before adding them to the water. This action releases their essential oils, resulting in a more aromatic and flavourful chai.
  • Fresh Ginger: Whenever possible, use fresh ginger rather than powdered. Fresh ginger adds a vibrant kick that complements the other spices beautifully.
  • Monitor Milk Boiling: Keep a close eye on the milk once it’s added to the pot. Allowing the milk to boil vigorously can alter its taste and texture, making the chai less creamy. A gentle simmer is key to achieving the perfect consistency and flavour.
  • Tea Leaf Quality: The quality of the tea leaves significantly impacts the overall taste of the chai. Opt for high-quality, loose-leaf black tea for the best results.
  • Customize Spice Blend: Feel free to adjust the quantity and variety of spices according to your preference. Each spice contributes its unique flavour profile, so experiment to find your perfect blend.
  • Avoid Over-Steeping: While Kadak Chai is known for its strength, there’s a fine line between strong and bitter. Be mindful not to over-steep the tea leaves to avoid a bitter aftertaste.

With this detailed guide and flavour tips, you’ll learn how to master making Kadak Chai. You’ll get to enjoy a cup that’s not just strong, but also full of tradition and rich in taste.

Kadak Chai - One Cup of Chai
Kadak Chai - One Cup of Chai
Kadak Chai - One Cup of Chai

Local and Regional Variations of Kadak Chai

Kadak Chai isn’t just one recipe; it changes and adapts based on local preferences, traditions, and what ingredients are available in different places. This part looks at the many regional versions of Kadak Chai, each adding its own special touch to the classic recipe. This shows how diverse and creative the world of tea can be.

Adrak Chai (Ginger Tea) – North India:

  • Ingredients: Predominantly features fresh ginger, along with the standard Kadak Chai base of black tea, milk, and sugar.
  • Characteristics: The addition of a generous amount of ginger not only imparts a spicy kick but also offers warmth and numerous health benefits, making it a popular choice in colder weather or for those seeking a soothing remedy for sore throats.
  • Cultural Significance: Adrak Chai is a staple in North Indian households, especially during the monsoon and winter seasons, celebrated for its comforting warmth.

Sulaimani Chai – Kerala, South India:

  • Ingredients: A clear tea made without milk, flavoured with lemon or lime, and sometimes sweetened with sugar or honey.
  • Characteristics: Known for its simplicity and refreshing taste, Sulaimani Chai is often served after meals to aid digestion.
  • Cultural Significance: Rooted in Malabar Muslim cuisine, Sulaimani Chai is a symbol of hospitality and is commonly served to guests as a gesture of welcome and friendship.

Elaichi Chai (Cardamom Tea):

  • Ingredients: Features cardamom as the star spice, complemented by the standard ingredients of black tea, milk, and sugar.
  • Characteristics: Elaichi Chai is prized for its fragrant and sweet flavour, with cardamom adding a refreshing note that elevates the tea experience.
  • Cultural Significance: Popular across many regions of India, Elaichi Chai is often consumed for its digestive and aromatic benefits, making it a favored choice for a soothing beverage.

Kashmiri Chai (Noon Chai) – Kashmir:

  • Ingredients: A unique pink tea made with green tea leaves, milk, baking soda, and a pinch of salt, often garnished with almonds and cardamom.
  • Characteristics: Known for its distinctive pink color and creamy, nutty flavour, Kashmiri Chai is a visual and sensory delight.
  • Cultural Significance: Integral to Kashmiri culture, Noon Chai is a symbol of hospitality and is traditionally served at special occasions and gatherings, reflecting the region’s rich culinary heritage.

Cutting Chai – Mumbai:

  • Ingredients: A strong brew of black tea and milk, often spiced with ginger or cardamom, served in small glasses.
  • Characteristics: The term “cutting” refers to the practice of serving the chai in half-portions, ideal for a quick, invigorating break.
  • Cultural Significance: A quintessential feature of Mumbai’s bustling street life, Cutting Chai is a popular choice among city dwellers and is synonymous with the fast-paced lifestyle, offering a momentary pause for refreshment.

The different versions of Kadak Chai show how the drink can fit into various food scenes and also shine a light on the common love for tea across different cultures. Every type of Kadak Chai has a story about where it comes from, mixing local flavours into every drink, and encouraging tea fans to discover the wide range of Kadak Chai’s regional styles.

Cultural Significance of Kadak Chai

Kadak Chai is more than a drink; it’s a key part of culture and social life. This section looks at how important Kadak Chai is in society, serving both as a comforting beverage and a sign of welcome and togetherness.

Social Role

Kadak Chai transcends its role as a mere beverage, becoming a vital component of daily life and social engagements across different cultures.

  • A Symbol of Warmth and Comfort: In the hustle and bustle of daily life, Kadak Chai offers a moment of solace, serving as a comforting companion during both solitude and conversation. Its rich, warm flavours provide a sense of comfort and relaxation, making it a preferred choice in moments of reflection or leisure.
  • Centerpiece of Social Gatherings: Whether it’s a casual meeting at home, a break at the workplace, or a formal gathering, Kadak Chai often takes center stage. It acts as a catalyst for conversation, fostering an environment where stories are shared, and bonds are strengthened.
  • Morning Ritual: For many, the day begins with a cup of Kadak Chai, setting the tone for the day ahead. This morning ritual is a cherished routine that energizes and prepares individuals for their daily tasks.

Tea Culture Integration

Kadak Chai’s significance extends beyond its individual consumption, playing a crucial role in the broader context of tea culture and societal norms.

  • Symbol of Hospitality: Offering a cup of Kadak Chai to guests is a common practice in many cultures, signifying warmth and hospitality. It’s a gesture that conveys respect and a warm welcome, making guests feel valued and at home.
  • Uniting Diverse Communities: The universal appeal of Kadak Chai transcends cultural and social boundaries, bringing together people from various backgrounds. It serves as a common thread that unites diverse communities, celebrating shared experiences over a cup of tea.
  • Cultural Heritage and Identity: In regions where Kadak Chai is particularly popular, it has become an integral part of cultural heritage and identity. It reflects the traditions, values, and history of the people, contributing to a sense of pride and belonging.
  • Adaptability and Inclusivity: The adaptability of Kadak Chai, with its various regional interpretations and customizable ingredients, makes it an inclusive beverage. It embraces different tastes, dietary needs, and cultural preferences, reflecting the dynamic and evolving nature of tea culture.

Kadak Chai holds deep cultural meaning, symbolizing comfort, welcome, and togetherness. Its wide acceptance and role in everyday life and social practices show it’s more than just a drink. It’s a cultural element that builds relationships and brings people together.

Infusing Hearts: The Enduring Legacy of Kadak Chai

We’ve explored the world of Kadak Chai, learning it’s much more than just tea and spices. Kadak Chai is a celebration of culture, diversity, and togetherness, bringing people closer with its rich flavours and the warm moments it creates.

We’ve seen how Kadak Chai has grown from ancient healing drinks to an everyday favorite around the world. Looking at its ingredients, we’ve discovered the skill in combining strong black tea with various spices, each sip taking us on a journey through the vast culinary landscape of the Indian subcontinent and beyond.

In learning how to make Kadak Chai, we’ve seen the importance of brewing time, the quality of spices, and how personal touches can make your cup uniquely satisfying. Making Kadak Chai is not just about the drink; it’s a rewarding ritual.

We’ve also seen how Kadak Chai is a sign of welcome, a way to connect with others, and a comforting part of many people’s lives. The different regional versions of Kadak Chai, from the spicy Adrak Chai to the clear Sulaimani Chai, show how adaptable and inclusive Kadak Chai is, reflecting local tastes and traditions.

Kadak Chai is more than a drink; it’s a way to celebrate our differences, connect cultures, and add something special to everyday life. Whether you already love Kadak Chai or are just starting to explore, there’s a whole world of flavours, traditions, and experiences to discover. So, why not start your own Kadak Chai journey, try different recipes, and maybe even create a version that tells your own story? By doing this, you’ll not only enjoy a great cup of tea but also join in a global tradition that brings people together.

Frequently Asked Questions About Kadak Chai

1. What is Kadak Chai?

Kadak Chai is a strong, robust version of traditional Indian chai tea. It is made by boiling black tea leaves for a longer duration and adding a blend of aromatic spices like cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and black pepper. The result is a flavourful, full-bodied chai with a bold, spicy taste. 

2. What are the benefits of Kadak Chai?

Kadak Chai offers several health benefits:

  • It has pain-relieving properties and can help reduce joint, muscle, and headache pain. 
  • It aids digestion and can help alleviate nausea. The ginger, cinnamon, and black pepper in Kadak Chai have a positive impact on the digestive system. 
  • It is rich in antioxidants and helps protect the heart by fighting free radicals. 
  • It can boost the immune system due to the immune-boosting properties of the spices used. 
  • It provides an energy boost from the caffeine in black tea. 

3. How do you make Kadak Chai?

To make Kadak Chai:

  1. Bring water to a boil in a saucepan.
  2. Add whole spices like cloves, fennel seeds, peppercorns, and a cinnamon stick. Let them boil for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add loose black tea leaves and let the chai boil for 4-5 minutes.
  4. Add milk and let the chai boil for another 3-4 minutes.
  5. Strain the chai and add sugar to taste. 

4. What type of milk is best for Kadak Chai?

For the best flavour and creaminess, it’s recommended to use whole milk when making Kadak Chai. Low-fat or skim milk can result in a thinner, less rich chai. Some people also enjoy using plant-based milks like oat milk for a vegan version. 

5. How does Kadak Chai differ from regular chai tea?

The main differences are:

  • Kadak Chai is made by boiling the tea leaves for a longer duration, resulting in a stronger, more robust flavour.
  • Kadak Chai typically uses a blend of aromatic spices like cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and black pepper, while regular chai tea may use fewer spices.
  • Kadak Chai has a more intense, spicy-ginger taste compared to the milder flavour of regular chai tea. 

Further Reading

  1. “What is Kadak Chai and What are Its Benefits?”, The Auric. Available at: https://www.theauric.com/blogs/news/what-is-kadak-chai-and-what-are-its-benefits
  2. “Kadak Masala Chai”, Honey What’s Cooking. Available at: https://www.honeywhatscooking.com/kadak-masala-chai/
  3. “Meaning of Kadak Chaae”, Rekhta Dictionary. Available at: https://www.rekhtadictionary.com/meaning-of-kadak-chaae
  4. “How to Make Perfect Indian Kadak Chai”, Chef and Steward. Available at: https://chefandsteward.com/2012/04/29/how-to-make-perfect-indian-kadak-chai/
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