Nepali Chiya is a milk-based spiced tea enjoyed by most Nepali anytime of the day. It is flexible to meet different lifestyles and can be be adjusted to serve yourself or a large crowd.
I leave for Nepal in exactly 19 days so I thought I’d quickly pop in & share what I will be drinking 3/4th of my time while I am there. Chiya (commonly known as chai) is an important part of Nepali culture regardless of the caste, religion, socio-economic status, or time of the day. Most people enjoy drinking tea 2-3 times a day or at least that’s how we do in my family. My parents start their day with a cup of black tea (or coffee for my dad) followed by milk tea. The version I am sharing for Nepali Chiya (milk-based spiced tea) is what I grew up drinking but the ingredients & methods may vary from one person to another.
I make Nepali Chiya very rarely mainly because I am addicted to the instant iced coffee + I always associate drinking chiya as a family affair. The only other time you will find me making chiya is when I am super stressed. Both chiya & baking bread has that therapeutic effect and right now I will take any opportunity that will bring some calmness in my life.
You can make a simple cup of chiya by boiling water or milk with tea (both loose leaf or tea bag works) and sugar or take it a step further with few spices like cardamom, ginger, black pepper, and cinnamon. I love my black tea plain but when it comes to Nepali chiya, I like it spiced; slightly spicier the better IMO.
Nepali chiya is a very flexible beverage and depending on the supplies and your taste preference you can easily play around with the ingredients. If you run out of milk and 5 additional guests show up unexpectedly, increase the ratio of water to milk and you are all set.
I prefer to make Nepali chiya with whole milk or 2% cow’s milk. I am a little leery on non-dairy milk as they tend to separate when boiled with tea and spices probably due to different protein/fat structure, temperature difference, and acidic level. I have heard cashew milk, soy milk, coconut creamer, and oat milk are some great options to try and the trick is not boiling it with tea. I haven’t been successful at creating a decent cup of chiya using non-dairy milk yet but if i do, I will report back.
My go to spices are green cardamom & fresh ginger but you can keep things plain, or spice it up as you please. You can also switch things up per season.
For winter : use warming spices such as cardamom, black pepper, star anise, nutmeg
For summer : use cooling spices such as fennel and mint.
Other spices/herbs : lemongrass, rose, saffron, bay leaf
If you are into chai latte or chai flavored things, you will most likely enjoy Nepali chiya. It taste even better when you have snacks & baked goods to enjoy with. Some of my fav Nepali Chiya essentials are : biscotti (vegan muesli, cranberry almond) // pistachio muffins with cardamom & rose jam // easy homemade crackers // kefir hazelnut bread
The recipe I am sharing today makes enough for 2 servings. You can use the same technique no matter what spices or herbs you choose and adjust the quantity as needed.
Serves: 2 servings
2 cup water
1 small piece of ginger, sliced or crushed
4-6 green cardamom pods, crushed
~1 cup whole milk**
sugar, per taste
In a medium saucepan, heat water with spices for about 3-5 minutes.
Add black tea and sugar and bring it to a boil until it reaches brown/copperish color.
Reduce the heat, then add milk to your desired color and bring it back to boil.
Pour tea using a strainer then, serve it hot.
Non-dairy milk : whole milk makes it rich; non-dairy works but depending on the type sometime it separates.[br]**I used Darjeeling black tea but other black tea works. You may have to adjust the quantity depending on how dark or light you like your tea. Also, depending on the tea, the color may vary.
If you are into homemade drinks, you should perhaps check out:
Instant Iced Latte
Cucumber Mint Chia Fresca
Iced Chai Latte
Homemade Cold Tonic