Tea making is an art. It is also a science. It is not making a khichdi. I hate it when I see people dumping all the ingredients together and boiling them. It’s not a chore! As writer Douglas Adams rightfully said, “A cup of tea would restore my normality”. You may have read very complicated tutorials about using boiled water at precisely 85 degrees and using 1 spoon of tea leaves for every 100 ml of water.
Unfortunately most kitchens are not like laboratories. How many of us use porcelain teapots? We don’t have those food thermometers they use in Masterchef and sane people never use measuring cups or spoons while making tea.
Tea is nought but this: first you heat the water, and then you make the tea. Then you drink it properly. That is all you need to know. – Sen Rikyu,Japanese Tea Master.
Since we need a more detailed explanation, here’s a simple way to make some decent tea.
Step One: Boil water. Just water. H2O. Please do not add milk, sugar or tea leaves. JUST BOIL THE WATER. Place a vessels/teapot on a stove or if you have an electric kettle boil as much as you need. How much do you need? Just measure out the required amount in the cup you are going to have it in plus a little more since some of the water will have evaporated.
Step Two: Once the water has started boiling, turn off the gas. Add tea leaves and cover the vessel. 1 teaspoon of tea leaves per cup is usually recommended. However if you find that too strong you can add a little less.
Step Three: Wait. It takes about three minutes for Assam tea to brew which is the tea most of us have. Darjeeling tea can take up to six minutes since it’s milder. Don’t brew for more than six minutes for a stronger cup. If you want a stronger cup add one more spoon for the pot/vessel.
Step Four: Pour it out. This is when you should be adding milk or sugar if needed. Experts recommend adding milk while stirring so that you can regulate the quantity of milk. Tea comes first according to The British Standards Institute.
If you want to have ginger, mint or lemongrass tea, boil it with the water first. It will give a nice mild flavour. The tea leaves are added later. I have my tea black without milk or sugar. Yes it’s shocking I know. I must have saved thousands of calories too in the past 10 years. Preparing it Indian style is too strong for me and forces you to add milk or sugar to dilute the taste. REAL tea (and coffee) lovers don’t add milk or sugar. Milk and sugar are just added to make it more palatable.
Tea bag teas taste like boiled water unless it’s Twinning’s Earl Grey. Use them only if you are travelling or really lazy, in which case I don’t know why you are reading this.
The kitchen timer is a great investment. It can be used in a thousand situations, even as a stopwatch. Use it while brewing tea, cooking, baking etc. Life gets so much easier.
If you like thick, sweet, spicy and creamy masala chai then the technique mentioned above will not give the chai you crave. This link will show you how to make the perfect masala chai.
Everyone has their own recipe for tea and please do experiment till you find your very own cup of tea (look how brilliantly and effectively I made use of that pun there).