If you’re looking for a refreshing and delicious beverage in Dubai, UAE, look no further than karak tea! This popular drink, also known as sweet karak chai, is a beloved staple of Emirati culture and can be found at countless cafes and street vendors throughout the city. But with so many options, how can you be sure you’re getting the best karak tea experience possible? In this insider’s guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about karak tea in Dubai, from its origins and ingredients to the best places to find it and how to make it yourself.
What is Karak Tea?
Karak tea, also known as karak chai, is a hot, sweet, and spiced tea beverage popular throughout the UAE, particularly in Dubai. It is typically made by boiling black tea with milk, sugar, and a blend of spices, such as cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger. The resulting beverage is sweet, creamy, aromatic, rich in flavor, and slightly spicy.
History and Origins of Karak Tea
Karak tea has its roots in the traditional chai tea of India, which was introduced to the UAE by Indian expatriates in the early 20th century. Over time, the recipe was adapted to suit local tastes and ingredients, creating karak tea as it is known today.
Here are our top picks for the best places to get the tastiest Karak tea in Dubai
Karak House is a popular local chain known for its delicious Karak tea or Masala tea. They use a special blend of tea leaves and spices; their milk is always frothy and perfectly sweetened. You can enjoy their Karak tea or pair it with one of their many savory or sweet dishes.
Filli Cafe is a Dubai institution, and their Karak tea is one of the main reasons. They’ve been serving this delicious drink since 2006 and have expanded to locations worldwide. Their Karak tea is made with their special blend of tea leaves and spices and is always served piping hot.
Al Reef Bakery
Al Reef Bakery is a hidden gem located in the Al Quoz neighborhood. Their Karak tea is made with a unique blend of spices, including cardamom and saffron, which gives it a distinct flavor. They also offer a variety of traditional Emirati sweet tea, which pair perfectly with their Karak tea.
Cafe Arabesque is located in the beautiful Park Hyatt Dubai and is the perfect spot to enjoy a cup of Karak tea while taking in the stunning views of the creek. Their Karak tea is made with high-quality tea leaves and spices and is served with traditional Emirati dates.
Cafe Bateel is known for its gourmet dates, but its Karak tea is also worth a try. They use a special blend of tea leaves and spices; their milk is always perfectly frothy. You can enjoy their Karak tea or pair it with one of their many delicious pastries.
The Ingredients of Karak Tea
The exact recipe for karak tea can vary depending on the vendor or individual making it, but the basic ingredients typically include:
- Black tea
Some variations on the recipe may also include saffron, cloves, or other spices.
How to Make Karak Tea
Making karak tea is a simple process that can be done at home or by a street vendor. Here’s a basic recipe to get you started:
- Brew black tea in boiling water for 3-5 minutes.
- Add milk, sugar, and spices to the tea and stir well.
- Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for a few minutes.
- Strain the tea into a cup and serve hot.
The Best Places to Find Karak Tea in Dubai
Karak tea is widely available in Dubai, with vendors and cafes serving the beverage throughout the city. Here are some of the best places to find karak tea in Dubai:
Some of the most authentic and delicious karak tea can be found at street vendors throughout Dubai. These vendors typically serve the beverage from large metal urns or pots and may also offer snacks or other treats.
Karak chai Cafes and Restaurants
Many cafes and restaurants throughout Dubai serve karak tea, often with unique twists on the traditional recipe. Some popular spots for karak tea include:
- Filli Café
- Sangeetha Vegetarian Restaurant
- Karak House
- The Sum of Us
- The Tea Junction
Variations on Karak Tea
While traditional karak tea is made with black tea, milk, sugar, and a blend of spices, there are many variations on this recipe that can be found throughout Dubai. Here are some of the most popular variations:
Masala Tea Chai Karak
Masala chai karak is a spicier version of karak tea made with a blend of Indian spices, including cloves, peppercorns, and fennel seeds. This version of karak tea has a stronger flavor and a more intense spiciness than the traditional recipe.
Saffron karak is a luxurious variation of the traditional recipe made with saffron, a prized spice often used in Middle Eastern cuisine. This version of karak tea has a rich, golden color and a subtle floral flavor that complements the sweetness of the tea.
For those with a sweet tooth, chocolate karak is a decadent twist on the traditional recipe that incorporates chocolate. This version of karak tea is made by adding cocoa powder or chocolate syrup to the tea, resulting in a rich, creamy beverage that is perfect for dessert or an indulgent treat.
Tips for Enjoying Karak Tea in Dubai, UAE
To truly enjoy the best karak tea in Dubai, there are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Look for vendors who use high-quality ingredients, such as fresh milk and premium tea.
- Ask for your tea to be made to order rather than getting a pre-made batch that may have been sitting out for a while.
- Experiment with different variations of the traditional recipe to find your favorite flavor.
How to Make Karak Tea at Home
If you can’t reach a cafe or vendor, you can easily make karak tea at home with simple ingredients. Here’s a recipe to get you started:
- 2 cups water
- 2 black tea bags
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3-4 cardamom pods, crushed
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
- Bring the water to a boil in a small pot.
- Add the tea bags and simmer for 3-5 minutes.
- Remove the tea bags and add the milk, sugar, and spices.
- Stir well and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Strain the tea into a cup and serve hot.
Is karak tea the same as chai tea?
While karak tea is similar to chai tea, there are some differences in the ingredients and preparation. Karak tea typically uses black tea, while chai tea may use a variety of tea blends. Additionally, karak tea often includes a blend of spices, such as cardamom and cinnamon, that may not be found in all varieties of chai tea.
Is karak tea a traditional Emirati beverage?
While karak tea has become a beloved staple of Emirati culture, its origins can be traced back to Indian expatriates who brought traditional chai tea to the UAE in the early 20th century. Over time, the recipe was adapted to suit local tastes and ingredients, creating karak tea as it is known today.
Is karak tea healthy?
The Indian Karak tea strong flavor does contain sugar and milk, which may not be suitable for those with dietary restrictions, it also has some potential health benefits. Black tea, the base of karak tea, contains antioxidants and may positively impact heart health and brain function. Additionally, the spices used in karak tea, such as ginger and cardamom, have anti-inflammatory properties and may aid digestion.
Can I make karak tea without milk?
Yes, making a dairy-free version of karak tea is possible using a non-dairy milk alternative, such as almond or coconut milk. Alternatively, you can make spiced black tea without any milk at all.
What is the best time of day to enjoy karak tea?
Karak tea is a popular beverage throughout the day in Dubai, but it is particularly popular as an afternoon pick-me-up or after-dinner treat. However, since it contains caffeine, it may not be the best choice for those sensitive to stimulants in the evening.
Karak tea is a beloved beverage in Dubai, UAE, with a rich history and a delicious flavor that will surely please tea lovers of all kinds. Whether you’re looking for an authentic street vendor experience or a luxurious twist on the traditional recipe, there are countless options for enjoying the best karak tea in Dubai. So next time you’re in the city, try out some of our top recommendations for the perfect cup of sweet karak tea.