Karak tea is black tea blended with warm evaporated milk and sugar. You can also combine these ingredients with fragrant spices. It is similar to masala chai, but Karak has fewer spices and ingredients.
The most common Karak tea blend is cardamom, sugar, and evaporated milk. The recipe can vary slightly among families or restaurants. The tea also mixes well with saffron, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and vanilla, and the inclusion of these spices makes Karak similar to masala chai.
Why Evaporated Milk?
The key to making Karak chai is the evaporated milk. The warm, thick milk gives the Karak chai its signature taste and creamy consistency. Evaporated milk is a type of concentrated milk in which 60% of the water content gets filtered out during processing.
Unlike condensed milk, evaporated milk is unsweetened. The lack of sugar means that the sugariness of the Karak tea blend is controllable with the addition of sugar, and the tea can tastes just as good unsweetened if that is your preference.
You can also caramelize the sugar before adding it to the tea. The caramelized sugar will give the tea a toasty flavor that will be slightly less sweet than granulated sugar. Caramelizing the sugar is a decadent step worth taking if you love to appreciate subtle but unique flavors in your tea.
When making Karak tea at home, you can customize the sweetness, but when ordering Karak tea from a restaurant, expect the tea to be strong and heavily sweetened. Fans of Karak tea have come to expect that the drink will be rather sweet when purchased from a tea shop or restaurant.
How To Serve Karak Tea
Karak tea suits any meal and works well at tea time with a few treats. Many people enjoy warm Karak tea in the morning for a flavorful pick-me-up to start the day.
Black tea contains about ⅓ of the amount of caffeine in one cup of coffee – so you get the energy boost you need without the high caffeine content.
As with almost any tea, Karak chai pairs well with biscuits or pastries. If you serve Karak tea with pastries, sweeten the Karak less to offset the sugary treats.
Karak tea is also an excellent accompaniment to flavorful meals of the Middle East, where the tea recipe originated. The spices of Karak tea pair well with the saffron- and ginger-infused biryani and the traditional flavors of potato Samosas.
If you like to have balaleet for breakfast, the sweet, savory, cardamom-infused dish perfectly complements Karak tea.
You might also be interested in our Labrador tea guide.
Does Karak Tea Have Caffeine?
Because the Karak tea base is black tea, it does contain caffeine. An eight oz portion of black tea contains about 47 mg of caffeine. That is around half as much caffeine as a cup of home-brewed coffee.
If you are sensitive to caffeine, it is best to prepare Karak tea with a decaffeinated black tea or herbal substitute. Rooibos is an excellent alternative to decaffeinated black tea because it is a caffeine-free, herbal tea, but it has a lot of character and flavor to stand up well in a blended drink like Karak tea.
The low caffeine content of Rooibos also means you can enjoy a warm cup of Karak before bed!
Is Karak Tea Dairy-Free?
Evaporated milk is one of the essential ingredients of Karak tea, but it comes from cows. If you are sensitive to dairy, try a non-dairy milk alternative such as soy, rice, almond, oat, coconut, or hemp milk.
Each of the non-dairy milk varieties has its flavor profile. Make sure you consider the flavor the milk alternative will add to the Karak tea. Almond and coconut milk will give the tea a nutty flavor.
Coconut milk and hemp milk offer a thicker, creamier milk consistency, but both kinds of milk have robust flavor profiles that will change the taste of the Karak tea blend. Oat milk has a creamy texture and a mild flavor that can be a decent replacement for evaporated milk in Karak tea.
If you liked this article check out What Are the Best Teas to Drink in the Morning?