Saturday, December 30, 2006

Manifesto


So here we are in Texas. And, Of Course, we’re very comfortable. Matt’s mother has impeccable taste and her house is covered, like a blanket, in Christmas. However, in a primal deep-seated way, there is a whisper of unease, for me.

It is that I require tea.

But I am alone in this requirement. Matt’s family drinks coffee exclusively. In fact there are three coffee pots set up in the kitchen to accommodate the demand. Matt’s must be brewed and hot as he is waking up, so it is timed (at home the beans are ground at 3:55am and the hot water hits the newly ground beans at 3:57 and he pours his first cup at 4am exactly. On occasion I forget to put the pot back in place the night before and the coffee brews all over the floor). Can’t imagine what it would be like if he didn’t have his coffee in the morning. May God, in his mercy, preserve us.

I don’t drink coffee. I only drink coffee under duress and when it is heavily laced with chocolate. So of course, when I met Matt’s family for the first time, and the awful truth came out, the household was thrown into mayhem. In the intervening years various efforts have been made. Matt’s parents now own a total of 5 teapots. They have an unheard of variety of teas. On our arrival, there is always half and half, cream, three kinds of milk and bottled water on hand. And, very importantly, there is in residence a new and efficient hotpot.

The trouble, of course, is that this is a nation of coffee drinkers. The fabric of national identity and purpose is woven through and supported by coffee. The drinking of coffee and the mishandling of tea is a point of pride, an under-girding means by which the people of this great land continue to live.

And so it is impossible to get a decent cup of tea unless one makes it oneself. And here is the source of the real trouble. As one drinker of tea in a land of coffee, I inspire real fascination and curiosity. Women especially think, ‘oh, that’s so cute, we should have a tea party.’ By which they mean a tea pot with tepid water, a bag on the side, a wedge of lemon (or something), some ‘cute’ cups and a cookie. And then we all sit around and talk and feel cozy. There are books to go with this experience. I saw one today called ‘A Cup of Comfort’ and a couple of other soupy looking items.

Well, all you fascinated and curious coffee drinkers, That Is Not a Cup of Tea.

First of all, tea Like Coffee, provides caffeine. Tea Drinkers drink it to survive, not to feel ‘cozy’.
Second, it has to be prepared properly (see below).

Third, drinkers of tea already have everything they need—pot, cups, cozy, hot pot and Tea. Giving a tea drinker a lot of fancy fluffy paraphernalia is a nice thought but probably misguided. For example, knowing that I drink tea, Matt and I were given a total of ten tea pots at our wedding. No dishes, no tableware, no household items (well, a few very lovely things) but really, overall Tea Pots. And almost 20 tea cups. Even though I was already properly equipped at the time of my marriage owning a sensible pot and cups to go with it.

So, here is how to make a cup of tea.

Fill a tea kettle or hot pot with cold water. Turn it on. Let it come right up to the boil. Take it off. Pour some blazing hot water into a pot. Swirl it around. Let the pot become good and hot. Put the kettle back on. Dump the water out of the pot. Put in the tea (loose, of course, is best, but don’t be above a good bag—At Least Two for a full sized pot, probably more if it’s bad tea). When the Kettle is back up to the boil, pour it directly onto the tea. Clap the lid on Immediately (don’t leave the lid across the room and wander around looking for it while the tea becomes cold). Put a cozy on the pot or wrap it in a couple of kitchen towels. Let it sit for about 3 minutes. Drink it. Either with milk or milk and sugar or lemon. Whatever you do, don’t heat water a little bit and the pour it on a bag in a cup. If you’re going to do that just go ahead and drink water.

And now, in honor of our good late President Ford, I will go and make a pot of my own and drink it all myself. Goodnight.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I look forward to reading this blog and I loved your tea "recipe". Thank you!

texasaggiemom

Rom 1:16 said...

1. The only good reason to drink coffee is to reach the lost.

2. I presume Lipton is considered a bad bag?

Anne Kennedy said...

Lipton is only bareable (I think) in extreme circumstances when nothing else can be aquired. Kind of like drinking Nescafe, I imagine. But right now I'm drinking pots and pots of kenya tea brought to me by my mother.

Susan Peterson said...

I have a mission to the waitresses of the United States, to teach them how to make tea properly.

Scalding the pot is too advanced, but I say to each one of them, when my daughter orders tea (I gave up on restaurant tea myself and learned to drink coffee in self defense)"Put the teabag in the cup first and then put the boiling water on top of it. " I say boiling, out of hope and to get them thinking the right way, although probably what they have is no more than rather hot. But at least rather hot on the teabag is better than being presented with lukewarm water in a mug or small pot, and a teabag next to it.

Lipton is insipid. If that is all they have, sometimes I ask for two bags in one cup.

Last time I gave my bag first hot water on top spiel, over at the Parkview ( a diner within view of Anne & Matt's church) the waitress just stared at me, as if I were speaking in a different language. My husband said I sounded hostile. I didn't mean to, but I guess the reign of bad tea had just gone on too long.

Susan Peterson

Anne Kennedy said...

I've tried explaining and begging for the water to go in first but I finally gave up because it was so discouraging. Now, when I order tea and I get a cup of warm water with a a bag on the side, I drop the baby and whatever else I'm holding and madly get the bag out, try to jam it into the water, put the plate on top in a desparate attempt to keep some heat in, panting and huphing all the time, and then pick everything back up and continue to with life. And of course, the waitress, despite all the drama, never notices all that I'm going through and inquires about it.