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Perfect to the T

india Updated: Aug 10, 2008 10:06 IST

Tea is the necessary evil so I am not going to deny it or defy it. I love my chai and in this wet weather I love it the way Alyona makes it.. with a little chai masala.

Tea is probably one of the world’s oldest beverage that has remained hot on the popularity charts through the years. It is also one ingredient that chefs sometimes get baffled with. Why? It is that ‘steeped in’ flavour that has to be steeped out or coaxed out in the right way, in the right amount to get the perfect tea taste.

Daily dose
I really do not know whether the tussle between coffee and tea (green, black, oolong, white…..) will lead us anywhere but the fact remains that the hot cuppa is indispensable.

These days white tea is being touted as the healthiest tea of all. The tea is made from immature tea leaves that are picked shortly before the buds have fully opened.

Tea should not be given to children as their nervous system may get over-stimulated by the caffeine content.
Tea doesn’t have any nutrition per se. The calories come from the added sugar and milk.

In excess
A person having eight cups of tea with two teaspoons of sugar and two tablespoons of milk in each cup, derives 320 kcal from sugar and 182 kcal from milk – a total of 500 kcal, approximately one-third of his daily needs.
What can we do with tea then? I love to use some tea leaves in a potli when I make channas. I love the green tea soufflé and simple iced tea. Funnily teacakes have no tea as an ingredient but are eaten with tea at teatime.

I know some friends who recycle their used tealeaves and create fertiliser for their houseplants. Or use warm teabags on eyes for compresses or soak tired feet in a soothing tea solution.

Drinking loose teas has many advantages over tea bags. Full leaf teas impart the finest flavour to the water, whereas broken or crushed tea bags leaves often impart bitter properties to the tea. Loose leaf teas are less expensive and using loose-leaf tea allows you to use the right amount for your perfect cup of tea.

True brew
Whether you like Assam, Ceylon, Darjeeling, Jasmine, Green, Earl Grey or Scented Orange Pekoe the best way to brew tea is in a pot made of china or glazed earthenware. Towards the end of the infusion time, stir the tea once for even colour.

Infuse for three-four minutes if it is green, three to five if it is black and seven to ten if it is oolong. And do not forget to unearth that tea cozy that aunty gave you eons ago!

The writer is a master chef, author and television host

Mail him on inquiry@sanjeevkapoor.com )

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