Chai (Spice Tea)

It is amazing to see how international the humble cup of chai tea has become. Once common only in homely kitchens, it is now increasingly a popular drink of choice for the latte-sipping trendy folk.  We think they are onto a good thing, but we’ve been in the know for a longer time!

I came across a great word ‘chaivinist’, which someone humorously translated to mean ‘a person displaying aggressive, exaggerated and prejudiced love for chai’. We Somalis would concur and agree that we are definitely shaahvinists!  Here is our recipe for making a great tasting cup of home-made chai or shaah cadeys as we call it in Somali.

You can change the spices to suit your taste. Add sugar or honey if you prefer. Or just have your chai without any sweetener. Some people like their chai without milk, so you can omit the milk if you wish, but use less tea leaves for a less stronger brew.

We love to have our chai for casariya (afternoon tea) with khamiir (a sweet doughnut type pastry) or samosa.

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Chai (Spice Tea)

Recipe by:
Abderazzaq Noor


2 cups of water
1 cup of milk
2 teaspoons of tea leaves (use a strong tea like Kenyan)
6 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
½ teaspoon of ground ginger (you can use minced fresh ginger)
4 black peppercorns
2 cloves
Sugar to taste


1. Grind all the spices
2. Place the water and spices in a saucepan
3. Add the tea leaves and bring to boil
4. Add the milk and heat through for two to three minutes
5. Sieve the tea into a pot and serve hot.

Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 3 - 4 people

10 Responses to “Chai (Spice Tea)”

  1. Rosa Manson

    Looking into Somali herbs for research into the pastoralists or people’s way of lives in Somalia. So a good any is learning how to make tea.

  2. Rahma Mohamed

    Yess…. Here’s a tip though; Always use black tea because white tea usually has more fat…

    • Somali Kitchen

      Thanks, Rahma. We love both white and black tea and considering that we don’t usually use a lot of milk that works out well. Enjoy everything in moderation is our philosophy!

  3. Michael

    Thanks for bringing Somali tea, sambusa, and some wonderful people to America.

  4. Nancy

    Thank you for sharing this recipe! I have several Somali clients and plan to surprise them by making shaah and bringing to their class for them to enjoy!

  5. Fatima

    I was looking for the dates and banana smoothie that you posted but could not find it, I made it last year but can’t remember how to make it. Can you tell me pleaas


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