Tea is a ritual at my home from my parents to my in-laws. Growing up I curiously watched my mother brew her routine cup of tea. On vacations back in Kerala, my grandfather would come home after work at 4 PM. What follows is an hour of noisy conversation around numerous cups of tea and crispy snacks. Milk chai is immensely popular and in tow is the humble Sulaimani tea.
The stunning Sulaimani chai has its roots in the southern Malabar coast of India with its seeds planted by Arab traders. Today the amber colored sweet and fragrant cup of tea has formed an integral part of tea culture in India. Little roadside tea stalls serve different versions of this gold colored tea with orange hues.
In Dubai, the sulaimani tea wasn’t something spectacular because most tea stalls offer a simple concoction of hot water with a tea bag dangling with sugar to taste. What sets the flavor of Sulaimani tea apart is the addition of a handful of pounded spices and a few sprigs of fresh green, made with a touch of love.
I have tried and failed numerous times to make that perfect cup of sulaimani tea. For me, the addition of the mint leaves and the right amount of spices made the difference. Lime tends to throw the flavor out of balance for me and so I have left it out in this recipe.
Today the weather was beautiful with a lovely breeze in the air. I quickly went around to boiling spices in water. Adding a teaspoon of tea leaves to infuse I covered the lid putting a timer on. This recipe is very easy to put together and is a favorite with my family.
The Sulaimani tea serves as a delicious accompaniment for evening conversation or sitting by the balcony on chilly winter evenings watching the sunset.
The Sulaimani Tea
For 2 servings
- 2 cups of water
- 1 tsp of tea leaves (1 tea bag)
- 1-inch piece cinnamon
- 2 cardamom pods
- 4-5 mint leaves 2 tsp of sugar or to taste
- 4-5 pine nuts for garnish (optional)
- Gently pound the spices in a mortar and pestle.
- Heat water in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the pounded spices to the water and allow it to come to a boil.
- Once the water has boiled turn off the heat and add the tea leaves or tea bag. Cover the lid and let the tea steep for 3-4 minutes.
- Add sugar as per desired sweetness in the teacups.
- Strain and pour the steeped tea onto the sugar in the tea cups.
- Give the tea a good mix. Top it off with a sprinkle of pine nuts.
- Serve immediately.