In our part of the world, tea is certainly the most popular hot drink. Today, making tea has become convenient for most people, thanks to the variety of tea bags available. Still, many people including me cannot make peace with them. Success of various dhaba’s and roadside tea stalls just outside any corporate office would prove my point. Those who prefer a well brewed cup of tea will always try finding the real thing.
Tea, in my opinion is a very personal thing. Some like it strong, some like to keep it milky, others prefer sweetened or some even like to add a pinch of salt. I am a huge tea fan. If the tea is to my liking, I can just go on with mug after mug. I would never want to say no to anybody offering me a cup but sadly I do. That’s because I am obsessed to my cup of tea so much that there are very few people I can trust to make it right.
For somebody who likes his tea strong, with just a hint of milk, it is very likely that no two portions of tea made will ever taste exactly the same. There are just so many things that can go wrong. Knowing how to make tea with precision is one thing outside the corporate world I work for, that I am proud of. I am confident if I have to make 10 rounds of tea, each cup would taste just as I wanted to. Challenge Accepted!
So here are some tips on how to master “the art of Pakistani tea making”.
- 2 Mugs of water. I always prefer my tea in mug.
- 2 Tea spoons of “Tea”
- Sugar to taste
- Milk/Tea whitener to taste
- * “Yes, it felt equally funny writing these ingredients down, as they are for you to read”
- Always Measure the water using the mug you are going to have tea in. Don’t take chances.
- Put the “Pateeli” (boiler) on the stove and let the water boil.
- Once the water starts boiling, add tea in it. This is the critical part. There are two things that can go wrong at this stage. Water overboiling and tea grains getting burnt
- If you were not watching the tea all along you can tell if water over boiled by noticing the water drying off at the corners of pateeli. If you continue with this water, it will leave this unpleasant bitter taste in your tea. It is better to throw it away and start over.
- Just after you have added tea, use a spoon to mix it in the water thoroughly. Do not let the tea grains stick to the corner or the base and burn. Burnt tea grains spoil the taste. Once the tea is thoroughly mixed you can be sure it will cook at the same rate. Lower the stove intensity so much that the tea stops boiling at all. This should not take more than 10-15 seconds. This is what we desi call “Dam lagana”
- Let the tea be on stove at a very low heat for at least 4-5 minutes, ensuring there are no signs of any boiling bubbles at all, else the tea will burn.
- Over cooking and burning are not the same. How long you cook determines how strong you want your tea to be. I prefer to keep my tea on low heat (dum) for at least 7-8 minutes.
For Mix Tea
- Add milk and sugar to taste and cook it within the pateeli (boiler)
- Use a stainer to pour it in the mugs
For Separate Tea
- Stain the tea into mugs
- Add powder milk or (not preferably) warmed-up milk to taste.
Yes it takes patience and precision to make it right. A good cup of tea takes at least 10 minutes. As our cook always mentions, “jitni dair main bhai ki chaye banti hai, utni dair main tau sadar se bhi ho aaon” (trans: I can make a round trip to Saddar Main Market, in the time you take to make tea)