Spiced Milk Tea

This spiced milk tea recipe from Oman is traditionally served hot and made with sweetened condensed milk, cardamom, ginger, and cinnamon. It’s a staple of roadside tea stands.

Spiced Sweet Milk Tea

This spiced milk tea, which is much sweeter than traditional chai thanks to sweetened condensed milk, was introduced by the large South Asian immigrant population in Oman, according to author Felicia Campbell, who also explains it’s a staple at roadside tea shops.–Renee Schettler Rossi

How To Serve Spiced Milk Tea

When our recipe testers made this recipe, there was a little confusion over exactly how to serve the spiced milk tea. See, the tea is quite sweet. As such, it’s intended to be doled out in very modest amounts and is, according to custom, sipped from teensy cups. When the spiced milk tea is served according to tradition, this recipe yields 4 to 6 servings of no more than 4 ounces (1/4 cup) each, whereas those of us not familiar with Eastern cultures and accustomed to filling a capacious mug to the brim will find that it only provides 2 servings of this size. But once again, tradition trumps convention, as this tea is probably a touch too sweet for such an oversize indulgence.

Spiced Sweet Milk Tea

  • Quick Glance
  • (2)
  • 5 M
  • 10 M
  • Serves 4 to 6
5/5 - 2 reviews
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Toss the cardamom pods, cloves, and cinnamon stick in a dry skillet and place over medium-high heat, shaking the skillet occasionally, until the spices are fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.

Dump the toasted spices in a small saucepan and add the water and ginger. Bring to a gentle boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the mixture is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in the milk and let it come to a simmer. Add the tea bags and gently simmer for 1 minute more. Turn off the heat, stir in the ground cardamom, cover, and let steep for 2 to 3 minutes. Strain and serve in small glasses or cups.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

This warming sweet milk tea is easy enough to make on a regular basis but special enough to compete with the indulgent offerings at your local tea room. This tea was fun to make. I’m used to plunking a tea bag in hot water or occasionally making a full pot of loose leaf tea, so seeing everything come together from (almost) scratch was a treat. It took me a little longer than I would’ve liked since I didn’t have ground cardamom on hand and had to grind my own. However, the amazing aroma made up for the extra time! I loved using the sweetened condensed milk—I’ve added it to Vietnamese iced coffee and Thai iced tea before but never a hot tea, and it was perfect. This tea is flavorful, aromatic, milky, and just sweet enough (though our leftover servings were decidedly a little sweeter than the first cups of tea—not sure if the condensed milk settled in storage?). A small cupful is ideal for a chilly winter evening or to enjoy during a leisurely weekend breakfast. I used Fortnum and Mason Royal Blend loose leaf tea; the Fortnum and Mason website says the tea has a smooth, honey-like flavor which might have something to do with the sweeter taste of the leftover tea. My tea didn’t come out quite as caramel-colored as the photograph; perhaps it should have steeped slightly longer? Or the color depends on the size of the cinnamon stick?

One of my favorite ways to drink hot black tea is with milk, sugar, and spices (similar to chai), and this recipe delivers on the warm and comforting sweet spiced milk tea that I so love. I've made a similar tea drink in the past but never with fresh ginger, which adds an additional warmth and depth to the flavor profile. I didn't have sweetened condensed milk on hand so improvised and made my own by reducing whole milk and sugar on a low simmer for about half an hour. (The ratio I used was 1/2 cup milk to 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar, I simmered till it was slightly reduced and resembled the yellow creamy color of condensed milk. I imagine in a pinch you could even use whole milk and sugar without the reduction, it would just not be as rich-tasting.) This recipe only filled a travel mug and half a teacup (the travel mug was delivered to my husband's office for a late afternoon treat, and I got a text from him saying "good tea" soon after). My only regret was not making more.

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  1. When I visited Oman in May 2016, I was introduced to Omani tea… The only pitfall was knowing that I would crave it once returning home! Quickly took to Google to find a recipe so I could make it for myself. I was sure it wouldn’t taste nearly as good as the tea I had in Oman, but when I drank it, all the flavours and smells of Oman rushed back. Thank you for your recipe so I can revisit Oman through taste!

  2. Made this today and it is a perfect afternoon pick-me-up! I tried it with about 2 TBS of sweetened condensed milk and that was a perfect sweetness for us. I have used honey in the past to make a spice tea, but I like using the sweetened condensed milk for a different flavor- think vietnamese coffee- which is different from regular sweetened coffee. Quite nice- thank you!

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