What kind of tea do you boil for 45minutes


In her autobiographic graphic novel Embroideries Marjane Satrapi casually mentions how she used to prepare tea with a samowar during her childhood by properly boiling the tea leaves for 45minutes. Proper boiling is emphasized in the text. From context it is also clear that we are talking about black tea. Common wisdom is that black tea turns bitter if left too long, unless the temperature is low (maybe <70°C).

So either the tea must have been incredibly bitter (seems unlikely) or I'm missing something. Can someone who knows more about Iranian or similar tea-drinking customs than me enlighten me?

Best Answer

Chai masala variants may be boiled that long or more – they do contain black tea, but also spices (where the boiling is needed, to extract the flavor from whole spices). The tea decoction this produces does contain all of the bitter compounds, sure – but it is mixed with spices, diluted generously with milk and sugar, and becomes a palatable drink that is nevertheless very different from the coolly and weakly brewed variety you seem to be familiar with.

In fact, it is even possible that the tea was plain black tea, brewed very strongly. Served with plenty of milk and sugar to balance the bitterness, milk tea is a cultural variation. Think of it kinda like coffee, if you want – it is bitter, but it is expected to be – and the tea can be doctored to make it work for the drinker.

Tea can be served in lots of different variations, and none are more correct than others – just like some teas are brewed very light and almost flavorless (japanese green, and 15 seconds per brew), and others are brewed to death and sweetened to balance (southern style sweet tea), some are served with milk, sugar, or lemon, and still more are served with salt or butter (tibetan). Boiled milk tea or chai are brewed to death, to extract all the flavor, and served sweet and milky to balance the strength and bitterness – and a weakly brewed tea would be tasteless and vanish in the expected fixings.