The great chai mystery has been cracked. My previous attempts at making strong chai in the office, here and here, were foiled by physics (shakes fist at universe) and operator error (shakes fist at self). As is so often the case, I managed to solve the problem only to realize that the problem wasn’t my impediment to success. Confused? Let me explain:
Goal: strong brewed tea with spices
Traditional method: boiled on a stove
Office method: somehow made in a microwave
Problems: cup boileth over, tea isn’t strong enough, staff complains of smell
And now the solution. When I bought my tea I was given some refillable tea bags. Once filled to the brim, I skewered them shut with toothpicks, dropped the prickly thing into some water, and boiled the living hell out of it. Or into it. Here’s the before:
And the after:
Now we come to the crux of the matter. Even boiled in a microwave, the chai was still too weak. I suspect it’s because the teabag doesn’t hold enough material. Though vigorous boiling in the microwave release great amounts of fragrant steam, the tea doesn’t darken as it should, from pale brown to a deep mahogany elixir. But Uncle F#@k-Up doesn’t give up, even when he’s had two cups of weak chai and everyone is just sick to DEATH of him hogging the office kitchen for his experiments. Remember my secret weapon?
I packed the infuser full of my tea/spice mixture, poured boiling water over it, and let it steep for five minutes with a little half and half in it. Result? Incredibly strong and sweet chai! Problem: now I have a strainer full of tea leaves I have to empty and the spices are fine enough to sluice through the filter and gather on the bottom of the cup like mud, making the last sips a dangerous game of tea drinking vs. cinnamon sludge ingestion. Summary: now that I’ve finally figured out how to make strong chai at work I’m sick of it and am moving on to hot chocolate.