Tea on the Train

kummer april12 teamilkcup.jpg

Photo by subgns/FlickrCC

I'm in sunny Calif for a few days, and as these things always happen, the guy riding the monorail from SFO to the car rental building turned out to be the guy right across the aisle from me on our flight out with whom I had exchanged parting pleasantries, now wheeling a giant black plastic "hard case" full, he said, of circuit board samples he was taking down to Silicon Valley.

We spoke about where he worked, south of Boston in Norwood, on a place every Bostonian knows as Auto Mile, for its rows of car showrooms. I asked if there were any coffee shops there, as I've often been in search of them myself, and he said of course there were, I just didn't know how to look--after all, the headquarters of Dunkin Donuts, as he knew, are nearby, and as was raised in India he much prefers Dunkin's lighter roast to Starbucks.

Surely, he drinks tea, I asked, and he said yes, but only at home. And how does he make it? The recipe interested me, as it was different from what I've read in books on India, though I'll of course read more now.

His wife, he said (and yes, his wife makes the tea and does the cooking), boils the tea leaves in milk a "long time," which turned out to be only ten or fifteen minutes--until the milk boiled, and then, as with Turkish and Greek coffee, she would turn down the heat to bring the mixture back to a simmer. Not two more times, though, as for coffee.

Sugar? Yes, and his wife adds it before, not after, as many of their friends do, which means that it will caramelize as the milk sugars themselves do during the boiling. Spices? Yes--cardamom and a word he didn't know was the same in "American English"--"ginger." Fresh, and grated right into the milk.

The tea was from the local Indian store, he said. I suggested he look at a local direct importer, Timeless Teas, which has just opened its own shop in Newton and sells various estate Assams, Nigiris, Ceylons, and other BOP blends. His eyes widened--he of course recognized the abbreviation for "broken orange pekoe," and vowed to remember the URL. I didn't have to vow to remember the recipe.