Nepali tea: add some spice to your holidays!

Photo courtesy of MrTopf via Flickr.

As the Hindu holiday season wraps up and the Christian holiday season is just unfolding, here’s a recipe that’s can be a tasty addition to any celebration—Nepali tea.

Called chiah (pronounced CHEE-ah) in Southeast Asia, this spiced drink is served throughout the year to both family and guests. This drink has many variations throughout Asia and Africa, and even here in Sioux Falls, each family who makes chiah will have their own favorite combination of spices.

This recipe is inspired by the Mennonite cookbook Extending the Table, with the addition of an ingredient commonly added to increase spice—black pepper.

Recipe for Nepali Tea, a.k.a. Chiah


3 Tablespoons black tea leaves (i.e. Red Label brand)

5 cups boiling water

1 ¼ cups milk, heated (preferably whole milk)

1/3 to 2/3 cup sugar

4 whole cloves

2-3 cardamom pods, cracked open (or ½ teaspoon ground cardamom)

1 cinnamon stick

Dash of black pepper (Optional. Add more to increase spicy flavor.)


1)     Steep tea in boiling water.    

2)     Add milk, sugar, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon stick, and black pepper.

3)     Simmer 10 minutes to blend flavors.

4)     Strain and serve hot.

Invite some friends over and enjoy!

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