Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tea, its possible to get it right (partial repost)

This was posted yesterday on Stand Firm.

I'm thrilled that seminary education in America is FINALLY getting down to basics. 
Anyway, it reminded me of some early brilliance on my blog, a post I called 'Manifesto'. Here is the meat of it.
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.


Teacher Mommy said...

MTL and I are discovering (for me, rediscovering) the joys of Good Tea. I have already invested in a proper tea infuser for loose tea: next up is a proper teapot. We in particular adore spicy Ethiopian tea, but I also love a good cup of (properly milky) chai. I know, not very British, but there you go. MTL is fond of Earl Grey and wants to get some good quality loose tea of that sort. Any suggestions for brands?

Joyce Carlson said...

How right you are. However, while in Zanzibar on this fabulous holiday that I keep raving about, we took a Spice Tour (like spending half a day in the Thousand and One Nights) and were reminded in case we'd forgotten that cinnamon is the king of spices and good for whatever ails you. So this afternoon we've been plying our sore throats with good tea infused with cinnamon sticks and sugar. Quite delicious.

Dr. Alice said...

Here in Southern California the best tea I have found is in the Tea Room at the Huntington Museum in San Marino (next door to Pasadena). I am not talking about the food, though their tea sandwiches are really good, but the tea itself. Somebody there knows how to brew it, which is particularly impressive since they are doing it on a large scale. it is not oversteeped or 'stewed' either, just good and strong.

You might like to go there sometime, though sadly it is expensive - I believe tea is $25 per person and that does not count admission to the museum itself! When I go I borrow my parents' membership card. (P.S. You also have to make reservations.)

lissla lissar said...

Tea should be drunk out of Very Big Mugs, and most mornings should be black as death.

I'm another exclusive tea drinker, but I'm in Canada, where the population mostly knows how to make acceptable tea.

Charlie Sutton said...

The Upton Tea Company (originally of Upton, MA; now of Hopkinton) has a HUGE selection of loose teas - black, green, white - from all over the tea-growing world. Some are blended, some are from particular estates. Prices are of course above Lipton in the grocers - but the quality and taste is far superior.

They also have a good selection of proper tea pots and some good electric kettles.

I depend on Upton Tea to get me up and running bright and early in the morning - and to keep me going.

Jill said...

And whatever you do, don't make the mistake my husband did a couple of years ago of putting both milk and lemon in his tea! ;)