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Nepalese Spiced Tea (Chiah)

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea.

                                                                                                             – Sydney Smith

I love tea. I drink at least 2 mug-fulls (500ml each) every day. I normally drink Barry’s or Lyons tea which are Irish brands of tea. I grew up drinking them from a young age at my Granny O’s house. Originally, I drank my tea with lots of milk and loaded with sugar. However, this ended when my Mam discovered how much sugar we drank in our tea, and she cut us off from it then and there! To this day, I don’t take sugar in my tea unless I have a really bad headache, and even then it tastes odd to me.

For years, I rarely wavered from these two brands and scoffed at herbal teas. Then, one day I had a really bad stomach ache and the headmistress at my school plied me with peppermint tea. To my absolute shock, I loved peppermint tea. I liked the taste and how “calm” I felt afterwards. Beyond peppermint tea, though, I didn’t branch-out for many years. Nowadays, I love all kinds of tea. Except Green tea. I can drink it, but I don’t love it. And (gasp!) I hate green tea ice-cream. I keep trying a little bit ever so often in hope that one day my taste buds will change but I’ve yet to embrace it!

Due to this huge love of tea, and because I own so many different teas (including three different brands of Earl Grey) I’ve started hosting tea nights in my little apartment. I’ve had as many as around 10-12 people and as few as one (besides myself) attend. No matter the size of the group, I’ve always had a blast and I love sharing tea with my friends. I especially love it when they drink some Irish tea!

Recently, while perusing my favourite cookbook (Extending the Table of course!) I finally turned to look at the beverages. For some reason, I’ve always skipped over that section and rushed through to the main and side dishes. I noticed that they had several recipes for tea and I decided to check out my cupboards to see which one I could make for an upcoming tea night. I asked one of my favourite tea drinkers to join me on Thursday last week when I taste-tested the below recipe for the first time.

We were struck by a disaster from the minute she entered the apartment. Whilst waiting for her arrival, I was steeping the tea, and when she arrived, I started pulling down the spices to add to the tea: Cinnamon, Cloves, …. I then received a check to my foraging as, to my horror, I was out of cardamom. In fact, as my shelves ruefully informed me, I haven’t had any cardamom in my cupboards since moving to Korea. I don’t know how it is that I’ve made this oversightall I can think is that all the other spices starting with “c” must have confused me!

Thankfully, Liz was able to save the day as she had some, and we were able to have our tea. It reminds me of the Chai Lattes in Starbucks, Butlers or Ediya. However, the taste is different and I found it a little “bitter” in comparison to the coffee shop Chai Lattes. However, we both really liked it and I made it again on Wednesday to have after dinner this time using coconut milk. I will make it again on Sunday for my tea party. You will find the recipe below. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Nepalese Spiced Tea (Chiah)

Serves 6


  • 3 tbsp black tea leaves*
  • 5 cups of boiling water
  • 1¼ cups of milk
  • ⅓ cup sugar**
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 3 cardamom pods, cracked open
  • 1 cinnamon stick


  1. Steep the tea leaves in the boiling water.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the milk until it is simmering.
  3. Once heated, add the sugar, spices and milk to the steeping tea. Stir between each group of ingredients.
  4. Simmer for 10 or so minutes to blend the flavours.
  5. Strain and serve hot.

*I use Assam tea leaves but you can use any black tea. You can also use 3 tea bags instead of tea leaves.

**The original recipe says ⅓ to ⅔ cups of sugar. I prefer my tea a little less sweet but you can add more sugar if you desire.


Make it your own: Don’t like milk? Lactose intolerant? Well, as mentioned, I used coconut milk the second time I made it but you could use soy or almond milk instead.  I don’t like the texture or taste of soy milk so I usually avoid it. Also, if using coconut milk, you might notice after a while it separates, but just stir it together again. You could also drink it over ice once it cools down as a summer beverage on a hot, humid day.

 For breakfast: Add to some chia seeds and make a Chiah Chia pudding (try saying that really fast!).



  1. Pingback: In My Kitchen – February 2017 | Spoon in a Saucepan

    • Yes, it’s amazing! I’ve made it three times now! I need to get some cardamom so I can make it again – I’ve been borrowing my friend’s in the meantime.

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