I recently traveled with the nonprofit organization DEFT Community to assist with the rebuilding of a local school and community center in Dhungkharka, Nepal which were destroyed in the earthquakes last spring. Learn more about the project through my blog and on our Facebook page here
Never in my life have I had as much tea as I did during my visit to Nepal. Every morning we’d wake up to a fresh cup of deliciously sweet chai and each time our group would visit a home or meet with villagers, we were offered more cups.
I couldn’t get enough of it. The tea is rich with warm spices (perfect for when you’re in the mountains!) and often sweetened with honey or sugar. When our tea was served with fresh milk, it was an extra treat. Fresh milk in Dhungkharka means someone literally milked the cow this morning (or JUST now) and you are now drinking it.
It was damn good.
We also tried chai with fresh buffalo’s milk which added a unique flavor and was neat to try although all I could think about was how it really tasted like buffalo mozzarella. I certainly wasn’t complaining about that though.
One of my favorite experiences while we were in Dhungkharka was during a visit to one of the homes in the village. I was taking some photographs around the house and saw this sweet grandmother in the smoky kitchen.
I popped in to take a few more photographs and was getting ready to leave when she insisted I have a seat as she began making me a fresh cup of tea.
I loved getting to see the entire tea steeping process first hand from someone I trusted knew it best.
We ended up laughing together the rest of the afternoon even though we shared no common language. She was one of the friendliest people I met in Nepal — which is saying a lot considering how warm and welcoming everyone I met was!
I think she poured me about 10 cups of tea that afternoon and I loved every sip.
Nepalese Chai Recipe
Step One— Get your fire going
Step Two— Boil your fresh milk and water
Step Three— Try not to die of smoke inhalation (I was struggling with this one, but my host was a pro!)
Step Four— Add spices and sugar
Step Five— Boil & Bubble
Step Six— Add tea
Step Seven— Keep the fire going
Step Eight— Add sugar (lots of sugar if you are having visitors)
Step Nine— More boiling and bubbling
Step Ten— Strain and serve hot
When I made my own Nepalese chai at home I was missing the hot wood burning fire and my new friend, but it still brought back all my delicious memories from Dhungkharka. With winter coming, I can’t wait to serve this for guests or on cold nights at home with Peter.
Play with the amount of spices you use and adjust them to your taste–and if you are serving the tea to guests, you can’t skimp on the sugar.
- 2 cups milk
- 2 cups water
- 4 cloves
- 1 tsp cardamom
- 1 cinnamon stick
- few slices of fresh ginger
- sugar, to your liking
- 3-4 tbsp black tea (or 3-4 tea bags)
- In a large pot, boil milk and water over high heat
- Add cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and ginger
- Boil for 5 minutes
- Add tea
- Continue boiling for 5 minutes
- Add sugar
- Boil for 2-3 minutes
- Strain and serve hot
Play with the spices and adjust to your tastes