Much Ado About Karak
Every culture has a staple dish or item that is synonymous with its identity as a group.
Egyptians with their falafels, Greeks with their stuffed vegetables and the French with their oh-so-buttery croissants.
It’s fascinating how these dishes begin to take a life of their own, until they’re staples that survived decades, wars, revolutions and even pandemics.
As with every obsession, the deeper people delve into it, the stronger they grasp their varying convictions towards it. Karak chai (tea) is no different in the UAE; it is the morning breakfast item that everybody will have a preference on whether spiced and dramatic, cold, or refreshing. However, they may hesitate to name their top Karak joint in Dubai.
It’s hard to choose the best place serving that beloved hot milky tea with a captivating aroma of cardamom and tea leaves. Yet, here are the top joints that have honoured the respected drink and have done it justice in the vibrant city of Dubai.
Project Chaiwala was founded in 2017 as a homegrown tea concept. They pride themselves in bringing authentic tastes and nostalgic aromas to the modern day through their innovations in Karak tea.
All their freshly brewed tea is sourced from the Nuxalbari Tea Estate’s garden, a 100% organic tea company. Along with their classic Karak Chai recipe, using locally-sourced spices and fresh milk, they offer other variations such as zaffrani (which is milk tea using saffron), and masala (a strong mix of spices that pack more of a punch than classic Karak).
Not to mention, that they offer their signature Chai sold by the carton if you wish to enjoy some when returning home.
Their two locations are well-known in Dubai, along with similarly-popular branches in Sharjah, and are also frequented as a guaranteed Karak fix for anytime of the day.
But as those who drink it preach, there is no wrong time for Karak.
Chaiwala’s innovation stretches to accommodate customers with different lifestyles through experimenting with vegan Chai, for which they have curated an exceptional recipe using alternatives likes oat, almond and coconut milk.
TEATIME/ WAQT AL-SHAY (in Arabic)
TeaTime is famous for its various branches all over Dubai, Sharjah and some in other Emirates too, yet their menu items, that seem infinite, are incomparable to the consistency of their Karak tea.
A rich, slightly sweeter tea that feels like a golden stream of warmth as you sip on it, completely worth the one-dirham investment.
Teatime is essentially a no-frills and straight to the point cup of tea. You sit in the car and beep your horn to be received with a chest-shaped tray holding piping hot tea.
No wonder they’ve opened so many locations to cater to their huge following in Dubai.
A formidable competitor that is sure to give you a cup of tea with a smile, always, without fail. Perhaps, the friendly atmosphere that is emitted from Country Land Cafeteria shines through their tea as well.
While their hallmark is a tea that may burn your tongue in the first 15 seconds of receiving it, the wait is totally worth it. You’ll be met with a silky-smooth embrace of filtered tea with hints of cardamom and strong, concentrated caffeine. The tea, very herbal and tasting so fresh, it’s as if you stuck a tap into a tea plant and let it flow.
It may be notable to admit that before trying this shop, I never knew it is physically possible to run a tab at a Karak joint.
Filli Café matches ambiance and hosts a perfect atmosphere to chill with your friends and cogitate while having some good, old-school tea.
Although the flavours and spices are much more subtle than at other Karak shops, it remains a very balanced and palatable tea.
If you’re looking for an alternative dazzling drink, their cookie dough milkshake is enough to incapacitate even the biggest sweet tooth in all of Dubai.
Known for the light puffy snacks that pair effortlessly with their Karak chai, this cafeteria dominates the territory of cozy and relaxing, for those late night Karak talks and gatherings that remind people what Karak is all about – sharing that experience with company you treasure, and having a chat or a light laugh.
Verily, it is a mystery to no one why Karak chai continues to bring people joy and enliven a gathering, even if it is just a warm, delicious excuse to meet your friends.
Keep on Sipping.