Black Cardamom Chai

As far as I’m aware, ICHAI is the only tea brand offering a Black Cardamom Chai, so, coupled with it’s prestigious Great Taste award, you could say, it’s very special!

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I’m not a fan of stereotypes in any shape or form but gender trends can be useful when you run a tea business. ICHAI has a large male and female fan base but there are definitely some flavours that are more popular with each gender. If there is a “Man Chai” then Black Cardamom Chai is most certainly it. Rich and smoky, it is a favourite with whisky drinkers and those who crave a stronger taste on the palette. The judges at the Great Taste awards also loved this blend, where it picked up two gold stars in 2016.


Black cardamom is from the same ginger family as green cardamom (Zingiberaceae) but is recognised as a different genus. There are several species of black cardamom but the one used in Indian cooking (and in ICHAI) is native to Nepal. Although popular in Asian savoury dishes, especially rich stews, black cardamom is not so well-known in the UK and is seldom used in British cooking. Traditionally dried by smoking over an open-flame, the black seed pods have an intense camphor-like flavour, with a smoky or earthy character.

Perfect on a cold day and a must when needing a pick-me-up, Black Cardamom Chai, which also contains cinnamon, green cardamom, cloves, star anise and loose leaf black tea, is warming and soothing. The smell of black cardamom always transports me back to the temples in South India and Varanasi, where smoke and camphor fill the air and ancient rituals continue unchanged for thousands of years. The energy of those smells combined with the sound of Brahmins chanting mantras cannot fail to leave the by-stander with a profoundly deep and earthly connection.

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Evening prayers at Dasaswamedh Ghat on the banks of the sacred River Ganges, Varanasi, India (2007), where smoke and camphor fill the air.

Although I confess that my personal favourite blend is the lighter Green Cardamom Chai, the strong, complex and moody Black Cardamom Chai is, without doubt, my finest creation. 

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Evening prayers to the River Ganges, Dasaswamedh Ghat, Varanasi, India (2007).

By Dr Helen Saini

(ICHAI founder)

Black Cardamom Chai makes an ideal Christmas gift/ stocking filler and can be purchased here at