From 1963-1992, US and British military intelligence troops performed a top-secret cold war mission at Field Station Berlin (a.k.a. “The Hill”), perched atop Teufelsberg (Devil’s Mountain) in the British sector of occupied West Berlin.

NAAFI (“Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes” company) is the British version of the US military PX or “Post-exchange”, providing shops, restaurants, etc. for the military.

Once or twice a day the NAAFI truck would come by. Work groups would task a runner to retrieve some truly wonderful treats — most memorably a sweet milky black tea that is burned into the memory of all who experienced it. It was the ultimate energy drink before anybody had ever heard of energy drinks.

This is an attempt to reproduce it. The recipe is a living work-in-progress. Feedback/ideas from anyone who enjoyed NAAFI tea are highly valued.

Many fellow FSV vets refer to a beloved cheese/onion sandwich served by the NAAFI truck, which I don’t recall ever trying. But this is reportedly the same or very close:
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This riff on NAAFI tea strikes me as pretty close to the original I experienced at Field Station Berlin - which means it is ridiculously rich and sweet. Truth be told most palates might prefer less dairy and sweet.

Unless you know everybody wants the full Monty, maybe start out by cutting the condensed milk in half then tweaking your recipe from there. Or maybe better just serve dairy and sweeteners on the side. I find 1 tsp of sweetened condensed milk in a cup much more rational.

Leftover tea stores fine in a mason jar in the fridge. Not sure how long if you added the dairy, but a very long time otherwise.

The default size of the recipe is designed to use exactly one can of condensed milk, because once you open one what else are you going to do with it?

One last thing... decaf black tea is widely available and makes this recipe night-time friendly.
Ingredients (Metric)
Ingredients (Standard)
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Ingredients (Metric)
Ingredients (Standard)
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  1. Place the spices in a muslin cooking bag (can be washed and re-used).
    Or make a spice sachet by placing them in a double thickness of cheesecloth. Gather corners together and tie securely with butchers twine.
Standard Method:
  1. Place spices and water in a slow cooker, or in a pot on a stove. Cook covered on low ≈ 8 hours then fish the sachet out. Simmer is fine — should not spend much time at full boil.
Sous Vide Method:
  1. Set sous vide temp to 200°F/93°C. Seal sachet & water in bag and place in the sous vide bath. Cook ≈ 8 hours, then drain liquid into pot on a stove.
  1. Bring the liquid back up to a simmer.
  2. Add tea bags. Steep covered 3-5 minutes according to taste. Remove and discard.
  3. Stir in the sweetened condensed milk, unless serving on the side. Enjoy!
Recipe Notes

A biscotti on the side would likely be well received.

With an 8 hour cook, overnight is convenient for morning tea - but if using a stove, overnight unattended may not be a great idea - especially with a gas stove.

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