Monday, August 18, 2008

Chai, Tea Latte, or Milk Tea?

Chai, Tea Latte, or Milk Tea?

Milk tea, or the "tea latte," has moved from India to East Asia to America, and now joins with the European tradition of tea with milk.

Tea with Milk: Whether you add tea to your cup tea first or last is up to you. Some argue that if you add milk last, you have better control over the amount, but others say that milk protects fine porcelain cups from cracking when the tea is poured, and the flavor of the milk is enhanced when the hot tea hits and scalds the milk. You be the judge. Just don’t add milk to green or oolong teas. Two-percent or whole milk is best. Cream is not good with tea, as the milk fats interact adversely with tea tannins.

Chai: In India, all tea is called "chai." The most common method of brewing Indian chai involves tossing tea leaves (usually broken Assam tea or CTC tea) into a kettle of boiling water, simmering for a few minutes, adding milk and sugar, and once the milk boils, removing from the stove and straining into a pre-warmed teapot or mug. Indian chai sold by chai wallahs at train stations is usually made this way, and is very strong, milky, and sweet. The unglazed clay cup used for serving is then tossed from the train as you travel down the line.

Chai Tea Masala Chai: What Americans call chai, should actually be called “masala chai, ” or "spiced tea." This recipe is the same as the chai recipe above, but with the addition of spices such as cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, black pepper, and so on. Many families in India have their own recipe, and grind fresh spices at home. Supermarkets now sell pre-mixed concentrates of masala chai that you add milk to and heat in a kettle or the microwave. Chai is also very popular in American coffeehouses, although usually made too sweet. Try our Masala Chai blend.

Tea Latte: The tea latte probably started in Japan and spread to America. Usually a strong black tea is mixed with steamed milk and sugar, plus flavored syrups, such as almond and vanilla. Be careful that the syrup flavor doesn’t overpower the taste of the tea. You can also brew up some flavored black tea and add hot milk or boil the whole concoction as in the first recipe.

Milk Tea Recipes
Recipe #1: Make a tea concentrate by doubling the amount of black tea leaf and brew a mug, or a half or full pot of tea. Fill pre-heated mug 2/3 full of brewed tea, add hot milk, and sweeten. Full bodied teas, such as our Assam Blend, English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast or Africa Morning are ideal.

Recipe #2: Add 1 heaping teaspoon dry tea leaf to 1 cup boiling water in saucepan and simmer for 1- 2 min. Add a little less than one cup of milk to tea mixture. When milk comes to a boil, remove saucepan from stove immediately and strain the “milk tea” into your cup, mug, or pre-heated teapot. Sweeten heavily!


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