A cup of tea is one of life’s simpler pleasures. It’s just some leaves steeped in hot water, right? Right. Except there’s hundreds of different ways to prepare it, and can range from simple and pure to complex and heavily spiced. This is the way I had tea in Singapore’s Little India, and midnight kopi tiams and prata shops. It’s got the basic ingredients, but it’s preparation gives it it’s character: black tea and condensed milk are long-poured back and forth between vessels to create a thick frothy head to the tea. Here’s a video clip of one guy’s technique.
Done correctly, the pouring technique produces a very smooth, very sweet, creamy blend of hot water, steeped tea, and sweetened condensed milk with a inch of frothy bubbles at the top of the glass. As a secondary benefit, the pouring technique also tends to cool the tea down to drinking temperature through the repeated airing-out process.
Ingredients (for 4 cups):
- 4 bags of black tea (Darjeeling, Ceylon, etc)
- 4-5 tbsp of sweetened condensed milk
- 4 cups of boiling water
Serve with: your favourite Indian or Malay curries, roti prata/paratha
What you will need: tea kettle (or something to boil water in), two large pouring vessels (like 4 cup-capacity measuring cups with pouring spouts), measuring spoons, dexterity
- Boil 4-5 cups of water (a little extra never hurt). I hope I don’t need to go into more detail here.
- Once the water is boiling, place the 4 tea bags into the 4-cup-capacity measuring cup. Pour the boiling water over the tea bags and fill the measuring cup up to the 4-cup line.
- Let the tea steep for about 5-6 minutes. It will get very dark, and we need the tea to be quite strong to balance out the powerful sweetness of the condensed milk.
- Once the tea is steeped, remove the tea bags and add the sweetened condensed milk. Add the milk to taste, meaning if you want it more or less sweet, this is up to your taste buds to decide. This tea is supposed to be fairly thick, though – around the consistency of a light cream – so don’t be too hesitant adding the milk.
- Now the pouring technique begins. From the large measuring cup, pour the liquid into the other large vessel. Watch the video above. That guy is a pro, but more height between the pouring vessel and the receiving vessel means more froth in the tea, which is what we want. What we don’t want is to spill tea all over the floor, so be careful. Pass it back and forth between the two vessels as many times as is needed to get a nice thick foam on top of the tea.
- Pour the tea out into small mugs and serve immediately.