Because Chai Is Life
Your guide to making the perfect mug of chai/tea
In any Pakistani household, tea is considered sacred. Days do not begin without tea, evenings are made merry with tea, successful parties are determined by “one more cup of tea” and all grief, happiness, hopes and dreams is shared with, you guessed it, some garma garam chai. Basically, a lot rides on making that perfect cup of tea- No pressure.
New to tea making? No worries, we’re making it super simple for you. Find the recipes to all types of tea (in the average Pakistani household) right here.
*For all intents and purposes, every cup of tea basically means a mug of tea- because have you seen the size of a cup?
This is the most basic version of tea that everyone should know how to make, because teabag tea is basically a hack.
Loose black tea
Milk and sugar, to serve
For each cup of tea, measure out a little more water than you intend to pour into your cup. For example, for 1 full cup, measure out 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water. This will account for the water lost due to evaporation and absorption by the tea leaves.
Bring the water to a rolling boil. Add one teaspoon loose tea per cup of water.
Lower the heat and let simmer for 10 seconds. Turn off the heat and cover the kettle with a tea cozy to let the tea steep (dum) for another minute or two.
Place a mesh strainer over your mug and pour out your freshly brewed cup of tea! Serve with warm milk and sugar.
Variations: You may add a chai spice mix to your tea while it’s steeping. Cardamom, cinnamon and ginger powder are all popular additions.
The perfect setting: Family and friends gathered in the evening, having just enjoyed piping hot samosas.
For those nights when you’re feeling a little extra or you just want to thoroughly enjoy your cup of tea, I find it best to go with doodh patti (milk tea)- it’s the right amount of indulgence and warmth that you need without resorting to whipped coffee (another article for another day).
Loose tea leaves
Cardamom pods (optional)
Sugar, to serve
For one cup doodh patti, measure out ½ cup water and ¾ cup milk (to account for the long cook time and evaporation).
Bring the water to a boil, add 1 slightly heaped teaspoon tea and 2 cardamom pods. Immediately add the milk. Let the mixture come to a boil and lower the heat so that the tea is at a simmer for 20 seconds.
Repeat the process of bringing to a boil and reducing to a simmer, at least 3 times. The long cook time ensures that the tea is well-immersed in the milk.
Pour through a mesh strainer and serve with sugar.
Variations: Mix in one tablespoon of finely chopped almonds and pistachios.
The perfect setting: A cold winter’s night, enjoyed either alone or with a small group of close friends.
Even though we are very reluctantly adding this to our list because teabag tea is a bit of a cheat, there are a couple of tricks you can use to make it taste better without taking up a lot of time. This is for those who just cannot be bothered to wait too long to get their day started.
Sugar, to serve
Place your teabag in a cup, fill it up ¾ of the way and cover your cup with a coaster to let it steep for 30 seconds. Add creamer and stir thoroughly and add sugar to your preference. We find that one whole cup of water to one teabag results in weak tea.
Green tea has become a staple in the average Pakistani household, and not just for the nights you feel that you have eaten too much. It’s easy to make and a quick solution to tea at night- minus the caffeine.
Green tea leaves
A pinch of fennel (optional)
Lemon wedges (to serve)
Bring one cup water to boil, add one generous pinch of green tea leaves, 3-4 pieces fennel (saunf) and immediately turn the heat off. Cover and let steep for 1-2 minutes. Serve with a wedge of lemon.
Variations: Green tea is easily customizable. You may add: fennel, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, ginger or a combination of these. Serve with broken pieces of jaggery (gur).
The perfect setting: Outdoors, late night, as an excuse to extend a fun gathering.