Recipe: Swahili Ginger n’ Milk Tea

Whether the sun is blistering or the snow is falling, Mozambique has the answer for you. Ginger – crazy ginger tea. The beauty of this drink is in the simplicity. There’s no long list of spices, as with Indian Chai (although, goodness do I love and adore a good cup of Chai).

It’s purer than that.

Every mug gently cradles steeped black tea and fresh grated ginger, topped off with creamy milk and sweet spoonfuls of sugar. It’s a little bit spicy and a whole lot of comfort.

Served cold, this tea makes for an incredible poolside sipper. Served hot, this tea will warm your spirit as well as your fingers during a snowy sunset.

This recipe is inspired by the Swahili people of Africa, some of who live in the northern tip of Mozambique. You’ll find similar drinks all in many parts of Africa, where ginger grows easily. Typically, the drink is served hot.

Here is the video that inspired the recipe:

Makes 1 1/2 quarts


1/4 cup grated ginger (about 3 inches of ginger, unpeeled)
1/4 cup black tea (decaf, if desired)
1 quart water
2 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar (or to taste)


First thing, gather some water and bring it to a happy bubble.

While it’s heating up, grate the ginger. I used about 1/3 of this root, skin and all.

Sometimes ginger can be a bit hairy and fibrous. No worries. Even hairy ginger is good for tea making. 

So go ahead; add the ginger and black tea to the boiling water. Simmer for 3-5 minutes.

Meanwhile, loll around in a boat. Smile at the sunshine. Make some new friends.

Fishermen. Memba Bay, Nampula Province, Mozambique. Photo by Stig Nygaard.

Next, add milk and sugar. Return to a simmer and let bubble gently for a minute or two, until the sugar dissolves.

If found that 1/4 cup of sugar is just right for a moderately sweet, chilled drink. Add a bit less if you’re serving the drink hot because sweetness comes through stronger in hot liquid.

Strain and either serve hot, hot, hot or chilled to the bone.

If hot, pour in a silly mug…

… handmade with love.

I call this one my green man mug, a.k.a. Jeff.

He pretends to be a serious book lover. And in some ways he is. But he’s also really rather silly. 

The chilled version is almost impossible to put down.

Real talk: use decaffeinated tea if serving to children!

Enjoy with a lovely view…

Ibo, Mozambique. Photo by Rosino.

And many more “hello’s” than “goodbye’s.”

Happy Stove Top Travels to you!

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  1. Well, you got me hooked on vanilla hibiscus bissap, so I will definitely be trying this one too. I am watching my caffeine intake, but will use decaf, I don’t think it can hurt… :-)

    (I already made a blog on your bissap recipe, but will make another one soon, as it became a daily routine for me to brew it and enjoy it cold during the morning – absolutely wonderful!)

    • Sasha Martin says:

      This is wonderful! I’m so glad the other tea was such a hit. I love finding new flavors. This one is richer because of the milk, but so, so great. Enjoy and let me know what you think :)

  2. I can’t wait to try this!

    Great read and great photos.

    BTW I love the “green man mug”!

  3. You know that now everyone’s going to want a green man mug of their own, right?

  4. Lindsey says:

    Where can I find that mug ?

  5. Oh, you have such lovely, lovely photos! That tea from Africa looks really delicious. I would love to try it.

  6. Very cute pic of the kids drinking the tea. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Yum! First comes the mixed taste of milk and tea and then you got hit by the strong taste of ginger. What a great combination! I will absolutely make this tea more often, it’s a great time of the year too. I wish I had known this recipe when I was pregnant with my boys and noussea didn’t want to go away:)

  8. I am from Kenya and taking tea in the morning at 4 O’clock, after a meal, with a meal… and really any other time is a habit that we are not about to give up anytime :-) . There are many variations of Chai making here, but i thought that i could also share my all time favorite flavor which is Cardamon, known in Swahili as ‘Iliki’. So basically make it the same way as the Ginger tea, but use cardamon in place of Ginger or even just add it together with the Ginger. The flavor is haunting and unforgettable. Remember to be generous with the milk as this will contribute to the overall flavor of the tea… the rule being 2:1 for Milk to water. Enjoy!

  9. Yum… that looks so good. I will have to try. Really.
    However, because we don’t really buy looseleaf tea, about how many tea bags do you think equal a quarter cup?

  10. I just found your blog on a cold day in Rochester. My ginger tea is ready and chilling. I’m also planning to make the peri-peri chicken and dishes from Georgia. Have you ever thought about making a dish from every state, the American Table Adventure? That would be really fun and interesting way to bring up some U.S. culture for Ava. I’ve traveled to over 20 countries, but have never really traveled within MY OWN country, the U.S.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      I love this idea – there’s someone out there doing a blog about just this.. I can’t remember what it’s called but you should look it up. I agree, there is much I could learn about our own country – it’s such a giant place, with so many different styles of food and culture.


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