Karak Tea is the National Drink of Qatar. It is an important part of the Qatari tradition and made up of a blend of tea, milk, water, tea, sugar, and cardamom which are boiled together and then simmered over a low flame to intensify the flavor. These are the basic ingredients, but some people also add cinnamon, cloves, or saffron to add to the flavor. It’s all about personal taste really, but the pure Qatari version usually has just cardamom. This tea is spicy and tasty at the same time. It is offered in many restaurants and cafes, as it is loved by all Qataris and expatriates. No matter, wherever you go, you would find this national drink everywhere.
History of Karak Tea
Karak origins lie in South Asia, and though this flavourful and milky tea is part of the Qatari tradition today. It was likely brought to the country by workers who arrived back in the 1950s from India and Pakistan. In South Asia, It is known mostly as ‘Masala Chai’, roughly translated as tea with spices, or ‘Karak Chai’, roughly translated as strong tea with the word ‘Chai’ coming from the Chinese word for tea ‘Cha’.
When the locals got a taste of this tea, they were inspired, and after adding a few twists here and there adopted it as their own. With time, this tea trickled into Qatar’s local food culture and became ingrained within the rich cultural traditions of Qatar evolving into a hot beverage that is now part of a Qatari’s everyday life.
Karak is a comfort drink that’s easy to make and readily available all over the country. It brings people together. It binds them through their shared love of Karak. It’s a staple at gatherings and a must-have beverage when friends and family are hanging around together.
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon loose black tea
- ¼ teaspoon crushed or ground cardamom
- 1 cup milk (regular, condensed, or evaporated)
- Sugar to taste
- Saffron, ginger, cinnamon, or cloves (optional)
- Boil a cup of water in a pan with the loose black tea and the cardamom powder.
- Once the blend boils, add a cup of milk and sugar depending on how much sugar you like.
- Boil again and simmer for a few minutes. At this point, you can add the optional ingredient/s.
- Pour the tea into a cup using a strainer.
- Enjoy every sip of that hot, milky pick-me-up beverage.