This week’s recipe is a creamy, rich tea. Sipped in hundreds of thousands of households, cha is a morning must-have for many Indian families – it’s the equivalent of coffee for Americans. 

With over a billion people in India alone, it’s not surprising that there are a wide variety of recipes and spices used. My family is from northern India, a small state called Punjab, where we call our tea “cha” whereas in other regions people call their tea “chai.” It’s the same concept, just a difference in dialect. Everyone uses the same general base, and then add 1-2 spices common to their region/cuisine, such as black pepper or cinnamon. The people of Punjab add ginger root. ☺ 

Traditional cha is a combination of fragrant spices steeped with black tea leaves in water. Milk and sugar are added and the tea is brought to a soft boil before straining and serving. American chai typically uses steamed milk/cream, vanilla extract, and has a spice combination inspired by, but not always authentic to, Indian teas.


Recipe: Cha (Indian Tea)

Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 2

Equipment needed: Pot, strainer or plate*, a heavy object

***The spices and tea leaves in this Beaver Bag have been pre-measured.*** Feel free to smell each bag individually to get a sense of each spice’s flavor and adjust the recipe to your taste. 😊

Servings: 2

2 cups water 

5 cardamom pods

3 whole cloves 

1/2 tsp fennel seeds

1/8 tsp ajwain/Ajman seeds, to taste

4 tsp sugar, to taste 

1 1/2 tsp black tea leaves (Assam brand if possible) 

1 cup milk (approx), to desired consistency 


  1. To a small pot, add 2 cups of water and set over high heat.
  2. Crush 5 cardamom pods and 3 cloves with a heavy object (ie: rolling pin, can, wine bottle), and add to water. Add a small pinch of ajwain seeds, and a medium pinch of fennel seeds, to taste. Add sugar to taste. Cover and reduce heat to simmer for 10 minutes, until the water is green and fragrant.
  3. Increase heat to bring tea to a boil. Add black tea leaves and let boil 1-2 minutes, until water is dark amber in color. 
  4. Add milk and bring to boil until cream rises to the top (see photos). Reduce heat to medium high and let the tea soft boil for about 2 minutes. Adjust heat to make sure cream does not boil over.
  5. Strain the tea into a mug and enjoy! 

Note: If you don’t have a strainer, you can use a coffee filter or hold a plate over the edge of the pot. If you use either of these methods, note that there may be loose leaf tea at the bottom of your mug. Allowing the tea to sit for 2 minutes before drinking will let the loose tea leaves to settle to the bottom. 

wondering where to buy more of these ingredients?

The ingredients for this beaver bag were purchased in Eugene at Vishnu India Imports, 135 E 29th Ave, Eugene OR 97405.

In Corvallis, Desi Roots & Spices is located at 919 NW Circle Blvd, Corvallis OR 97330. We didn’t check to verify availability of ingredients but it would be a good starting place : )

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2 thoughts on “Cha

  1. I am new to the area and I’m looking for ingredients for Indian tea and possibly some good Indian food butter chicken etc. thank you

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