African Tea Recipe: Tea Leaves with the Tea they make

African Tea: Milky, Sweet, and Spicy

I come from a people who are truly committed to their tea drinking.

On my mother’s side of the family, every time is tea time. I am sure some of you, my readers, can relate to your mothers being this way too. 🙂

And when I say tea, I don’t mean the wimpy mixture of tea and water served to you at most establishments, where you get to mix the water and tea in your cup as you put together your tea.

I mean the potent, fierce stuff that is cooked on a stove and served in flasks that’s to be drunk at scalding hot temperatures.

Do you now know what I am talking about?

Some call it chai, others simply refer to it as “African tea”.

(Take a look at pictures taken around East Africa in 19 Sky, Water, & Sunset Photos and More Taken in Dar es Salaam, Kampala, Kigali and Elsewhere.)

I was never a tea drinker until very recently.

A few years ago, an incident involving my drinking two cups of tea in quick succession was reason enough for my aunt to ask me if everything was OK.

She couldn’t remember having ever seen me drink tea, let alone having two cups in quick succession. (Incidentally, something was bothering me that night which might have been the reason for the strange occurrence.)

When I was a little younger, I often told my aunts, “Let those who drink complicated drinks make them for themselves.”

I never understood their constant need to be drinking tea.

Frankly, neither did I understand why it was worth the hassle for me to make it for them.

Now, I know better.

Strange as it may seem, I have become a convert of African tea.

Nothing tastes better to me than my daily morning and evening cups of tea made just right: with lots of milk, sugar, and tea leaves.

The temperature of the tea also has to be just right.

Nothing but the hottest tea will do for me unless I am extremely desperate. 🙂

I love the burning sensation of the hot tea as it goes down my throat!

So…how exactly does one make a good cup of African tea?

To this question, I am sure there is no right or wrong answer—everyone has their own recipe for perfection.

All I would like to do here is share my recipe with you, and then you can tweak that to come up with one that’s just right for you.

Either way, the basics are pretty much the same.

All that changes are the details.

Here goes.

(Want to know the secret to making the perfect cup of hot or cold drinking chocolate, with no powder specks floating on top? If so, read Cadbury Hot Chocolate Recipe.)

Recipe for African Tea

First, I mix (full fat) milk and water in a pot in a 1-to-1 ratio.

Some like to have more milk than this in their tea for a creamier taste (yummy!), while others prefer to have more water in their tea so that it’s thirst-quenching (not so yummy).

A 1-to-1 ratio is the balance I have learned to strike between having very milky tea, which can be quite calorific, and tea that’s too watery, and therefore plain not delicious.

Once mixed, I place my pot on the stove and bring it to a boil.

While my milk-and-water mixture is heating up, I walk into my garden and pick a few leaves of lemongrass which I then wash and crumple into the mixture.

I love spicing my tea with lemongrass!

Other spices commonly used in African tea are ginger (fresh or ground) and Tea Masala (which I like a lot too).

Once spiced, I let the mixture come to a boil while keeping close watch so that it does not boil over.

I then switch off the heat from my mixture in preparation of adding tea leaves to it.

According to my mother, boiling tea leaves affects their taste negatively. (After many years of not believing her, I now know exactly what she means.)

I then add tea leaves to the mixture, adding one teaspoon of loose tea leaves or one tea bag per cup of mixture.

This measure has served me well for the most part but may need to be varied depending on the type and strength of tea being used.

I then let my tea brew covered for a minute or two.

Finishing Touches

If I used loose tea leaves , I then proceed to sieve my tea into a flask .

If not, I pour my tea directly into a flask without sieving (which is why I prefer to use tea bags instead of loose tea)).

Et voilà!

My tea is ready for consumption.

I add sugar to taste, and that’s it!

Are you a tea lover?

If so, is there some special mode of preparation that you use when making your tea? Let me know by leaving me a comment below.

In the meantime, here is a video of someone who does it a little differently than I do but still makes essentially the same kind of tea spiced with ginger.

For now, all this talk of tea has made me crave yet another cup.

I think it’s time I go fix one.

I look forward to hearing what you have to say.

Until the next time,
Biche

(P.S. Have you ever been to Kwita Izina, the annual Rwandan baby gorilla naming ceremony? I went this year for the first time. Read all about it in Baby Gorilla Naming Ceremony: Rwanda Development Board’s Kwita Izina.)

15 thoughts on “African Tea: Milky, Sweet, and Spicy”

  1. At this point I would kill for a cup of tea of a 1to1 ratio, lemon grass/ginger or tea masala.As it happends I am in the office feeling completely unproductive and ofcourse craving for “chai”

    1. Tante,

      Hehehehe…I know what a tea craving is like especially when you know it’s almost impossible to get. I hope you got home and satisfied your craving.

      But what am I saying?! You’ve just sent me an SMS telling me you are at Zone, where I am pretty sure you are not having tea! 🙂

      More on text,
      Biche

  2. Thanks for your recipe, Biche! When in Rwanda our hosts served us Ginger Milk Tea every morning with breakfast and all through the day if we wanted it! Now that I want to add ginger to my daily diet, I remembered the milk tea and sought out just how to make it! Love it. Take care…Gail

  3. My daughter is a missionary in Uganda. She was married last summer to a wonderful Ugandan named Steven. While there we were introduced to African tea. I have always been a fan of milk and tea, the two together with Masala was awesome. I have not tried fresh ginger tea but to be honest I am not a morning person and like the simple powder. Getting Masala on Amazon is possible but I decided to try making it myself. All I was missing was cardamom and used all spice instead, not as good but I might order some soon and try it to see the difference. The overall balance I use is, 2 ginger, ½ cinnamon, ¼ black pepper, ¼ all spice, ¼ cloves, ¼ nutmeg. The cinnamon is a bit heavier but I like it that way. I make it with loose leaf Barry’s Gold Blend Tea because bags are just not strong enough. A stainless steel double wall french press makes it simple and keeps it hot, then steep for five minutes or longer. I drink it with 1/4 to 1/3 milk, yes 1 to 1 is better but as you said calories to taste is a concern and I drink it all day. Thank you for your article and giving me a place to share.

    1. Hi Joel,

      Welcome to Chick About Town! Thank you for leaving me a comment. I can tell from they way you write that you are a true African tea fan. Thanks for sharing the exact method you use to make your African tea. I have to try your masala spice mixture. Sounds like it should do the trick. I’ll have to stick to cardamom instead of allspice though because allspice is virtually impossible to get in Uganda. I’ll keep you posted! 🙂

      Biche

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