Malawian Afternoon Tea Cuppa Char

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“Malawi is famous for two crops, tobacco and tea. The tea plantations are in the cool highlands, a totally magical place after being in the hot plains of Africa. We had friends who lived in Thyolo right in the middle of a tea plantation. Incidently, Mount Mulanje, in this area, is the highest mountain in Central Africa and the second highest mountain in Africa, after Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Naturally, the main drink in Malawi would be tea and everything stops for afternoon tea (served about 4pm). When we lived in Malawi (in the 1960s), fresh milk was hard to get and not necessarily very hygienic so we mostly used powdered milk. For tea, however, we used condensed milk which sweetened and added milk to your tea at the same time. It's a real childhood memory for me. I still keep a teaspoon or two of condensed milk for a cup of tea if I'm making a dessert with condensed milk - and I don't even drink my tea sweetened these days. Afternoon tea always consisted of a small sandwich, perhaps a bit of cake or a scone and jam and a cuppa char. The name comes from the Hindi for tea and I suppose was a leftover from the British colonial days in India.”

Ingredients Nutrition

  • 5 teaspoons tea (loose tea leaves)
  • 6 cups water
  • 4 teaspoons condensed milk


  1. Boil the water and pour about 2 cups into the teapot. (A teapot with a good buildup of brown tannin on the inside makes the best tea).
  2. Let the water heat up the teapot while you reboil the kettle.
  3. Pour off the heating water from the teapot, add the tea leaves and then pour the freshly boiled water on the tealeaves. This has to be done quickly and as soon as the water comes to the boil. Once it has stopped boiling, it doesn't make as good tea.
  4. Let the tea steep for at least five minutes. Cover the teapot with a tea cosy if you have one.
  5. Put a teaspoon of condensed milk in each cup (bone china cups are best) and pour the tea on top. Stir (or don't if you want a sticky delight at the end of your tea) and enjoy.

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