Chalk one up for the marvel of the market system. Five minutes after my last post I’d found a mug that looked like it would fit the bill. One hour later I walked to a Starbucks two blocks from my office and found this exact mug on sale. Unbelievable. I thought my chai project was unstoppable now that I had the right tools.
Wrong! Don’t forget that Uncle F#*k-Up is at the helm here. I loaded up the strainer basket with my spice and tea and water, set the microwave to ‘perfection’ and sat back to gloat. And gloat I did, right up until I saw the tea bubble out over the top like a baby spitting up. Great. I sopped up half my under-brewed chai, picked scalding hot tea leaves out of the inside of the microwave, took the lid off, and tried again. Same result. Was I dismayed? NEVER! I rested a plastic stirrer on the top to hold down the wild bubbles and tried a third time. Bigger mess.
So…my problem isn’t the spice mix, it isn’t finding a microwavable double-walled vessel with a fine plastic screen, it is boiling water. This should be the simplest task but without a good two or three minutes of boiling my chai will be destined for pathetic failure. So I ask Teh Interwebs for a solution and find that microwaving water has its own issues that can be fixed with the addition of a wood or plastic object put IN the cup to give the bubbles a place to gently rise from, rather than launching skyward like a planet-ending phalanx of nuclear missiles from a sub.
Attempt 3: boil water only in cup with wood stirrer in place. Result: boiling water with absolutely no spillage. My problems are solved! Add tea into strainer and boil water. Result: instant tea and spice explosion in the microwave. I think my coworkers are going to mistake me for the cleaning crew for the amount of time I spend wiping up the kitchen with a sponge. So now my engineering problem is this: how to boil tea in a single vessel without it boiling over and spreading tea leaves into the container? This is a true quandary, one that will involve burned fingers, teabags splitting open like sausage casings, complicated cover/strainer non-solutions, and lots and lots of wiping up. Who said making chai would be simple?