Tea as 5 Grams of Protein · 16 February 2007
The downside to being sick almost all last week is that I have been incredibly swamped at work since my return. The relaxing tea escapades of Monday’s post are long gone. I’ve been prevented from writing since then but of course I haven’t been prevented from eating (and mentally cataloging my gastronomic adventures).
It was recently brought to my attention that I may not get enough protein in my diet. I took it as one of those well intentioned but not really pertinent statements, until I gave it some serious thought.
First, I consulted my trusty Dietary Reference Intake table, then I poked around at the World Health Organization and various other “expert” sites. Depending on which authority you believe, my average protein intake should be somewhere between 40-50g per day. On lazy days, I don’t even come close. Okay, okay, I was wrong; it was a pertinent statement.
I really don’t want to add more meat to my diet; it just isn’t convenient for me (and darn it, I need a convenient solution for health with all the other stuff on my “plate”), so I decided to brush up on the other protein options. As a refresher, (because while you may have had to take a Health class in high school, I’m betting that you took it about as seriously as the majority of my school did, a.k.a. not at all) the main sources of alternative protein are: eggs and dairy, beans, and nuts. Okay, I came up with a list I could work with. The next question was, what to make of it?
I had purchased Tazo Chai tea back in November, and I was very dedicated to it for about two weeks. Then holiday foods and beverages supplanted Chai and the half empty box has been sitting in my pantry ever since. It was long past time to get back to the Chai before it went stale, so this week was already earmarked for Chai drinking before the protein comment was dropped. But, as those who are familiar with Chai tea know, Chai includes milk! Milk is dairy! Dairy is protein! Eureka, two tasks felled in one blow!
I spent some time this week experimenting with how to brew the perfect cup of Chai using a tea bag and a microwave and may have even managed to make a dent in my protein deficiency in the process.
One 8 oz cup of Chai Tea:
- 1 Chai tea bag
- 4 oz boiling water
- 4 oz milk or milk substitute
- Sugar or honey to taste
- Sprinkle of cinnamon (optional)
The key ingredient to brewing a good blended Chai is brewing the tea correctly. Always bring your water to a full boil, then pour the boiling water over the tea bag.
Allow black teas, like Chai, to brew long enough to release the flavor. The Tazo site recommends 5 minutes for their black teas, so that’s what I did.
While your tea is steeping, you need to bring the milk to temperature. Milk is much like a hot dog, if you treat it badly with the microwave, it will go horribly bad.
If using a microwave, heat your milk on a medium setting for 3 – 5 minutes, stopping each minute to stir the milk and dissipate the film that will form on the top.
For people who want to expend more energy on their Chai Tea, the traditional method of heating milk is to use a double boiler.
Combine the tea and milk, add sweetener to taste, and stir.
Sprinkle cinnamon on top if desired.
Most tea bags are designed to make a full cup of tea. Make 2 cups of Chai by using a single tea bag, 8 oz of boiling water, and 8 oz of milk.
If you won’t be drinking or serving 2 cups of Chai, make 8 oz of Chai tea anyway so you don’t waste the tea bag. Save 4 oz of the tea for later, then heat that tea in the microwave when you’re ready to drink it, adding milk at that time.
Chai really is better sweet. I almost never add sweeteners to my tea, but I consider it a necessity for Chai.
For more tips and recommendations from people who are serious about their Chai, visit the Chai! site where you can also get recipes on how to make Chai from scratch.
For those who aren’t absolutely thrilled with the way that my Chai tea turned out, Known Turf has a beautifully rendered license to mix, match, experiment, and above all to find one’s own love for Chai
The Anti Tips - Variations that are proven NOT to work:
Do not combine the water and milk prior to steeping the tea. Milk seems to inhibit the steeping process and you end up with some weakly flavored warm water milk which is quite icky.
What would seem to be an obvious corollary, but may not be, do not attempt to microwave a combination of water, milk, and the tea bag. It doesn’t work any better.
Do not add cold milk to your warm tea unless of course you like cold Chai, because that’s what you’ll have.
Enjoy! 4 oz of 2% milk has 5g protein.
Tea as a Silver Lining · 12 February 2007
On the upside, being sick most of last week gave me the opportunity to indulge in lots and lots of tea drinking. One of my mother’s home remedies is a Hot Toddy: hot tea, honey, lemon, and a dash of whiskey, so it’s no surprise that when my throat starts itching, I reach for a nice cuppa.
Ever since Christmas, tea has been especially enjoyable because I’ve finally solved the problem I had with loose leaf teas!
If I’m going to be perfectly frank, I actually had two problems with loose leaf, and now I just have one. The first problem was that I’d inevitably find my loose leaf tea at local stores, and just as I fell in love with a particular blend, the store went out of business or stopped carrying it. After last week’s tea binge, I’m once again almost out of my favorites and on the prowl for replacements, but when I find them, no longer do I have to wrestle with the mechanical process of brewing the tea in a rickety tea ball; I have a shiny new tea toy.
3 Cup Eclipse Tea Pot With Infuser
In the mad throes of Christmas shopping, I found this little gem, tucked in behind all sorts of other dispossessed kitchenware at a local discount store. I bought it for a household member, and I’m going to have to break down and get one like it for myself since I think I use it more than they do.
What makes this pot so great you ask? Well, if you’ve ever brewed a pot of tea for yourself you’ve probably experienced one of three things that plagued me in my prior setup, improper brewing strength, tea leaf overflow, or quantity problems. I’d been working with a perfectly functional white ceramic tea pot. Boil water, add tea to a tea ball, immerse the tea ball, and steep. The problem was that I couldn’t see the strength of the tea through the ceramic, inevitably the tea leaves would shake free of the tea ball designed to less than NASA specifications, and (unless I was in extreme need) I could never finish an entire pot of tea before it went cold.
The little infuser pot solves all three of these problems, clear glass makes it easy to see how strong the tea is, the infuser sits in a seated lid so there is no danger of stray leaves making it into the tea, and I can easily finish an entire pot by myself. I imagine this product is actually a knock-off of the Bodum Assam 4-Cup Tea Press which I may eventually splurge on (it’s designed by the Brits after all, and they’re serious about their tea) but until then, I’m happily sipping away, thankfully with a far less sore throat this week than last.