A post that is actually about tea

Bibi's box has a lovely post all about tea, with some great links:

George Orwell's essay A Nice Cup of Tea about his rules for brewing perfect tea;

the BBC article "How to make a perfect cuppa", which critiques his rules with input from the Royal Society of Chemistry, and offers a challenging tea-themed quiz;

the h2g2 entry on Tea, which discusses brewing methods, including a convincing argument (with cute flash animation!) for pouring the milk first;

and Wikipedia's as-always very comprehensive article on all things Tea.

So of course I have to throw in some links of my own.

In my sidebar, in the new "Tea" category (formerly under "Specialty"), I have two very nice tea-themed blogs:

ANiceCupOfTeaAndASitDown is a charming blog that discusses tea varieties, biscuit brands, favorite spoons, electric kettles, tea tours, and other aspects of the tea-lover's daily life with cheery enthusiasm. Fun features like "Biscuit of the Week" and their own themed merchandise.

Cup of Tea and a Blog is the personal blog of a tea afficianado, and features brewing tips, photos, notes on tea shops, reviews of teas, and links. Lots of very nice stuff.

Another worthwhile blog, not in my sidebar but bookmarked, is Morning Coffee & Afternoon Tea, which celebrates hot caffeinated beverages of all (or at least two) kinds with recipes, news items, links, art, reviews, and more. In fact, scratch that...I don't know why this blog isn't in my sidebar, I'm going to add it now.

So after reading all the above hints and tips on how to brew tea, I decided to try it their way. I generally brew my tea straight in the mug, using a tea bag -- I would love to switch to loose leaf tea, finances permitting. I pour the milk in afterwards. Before these articles, I'd never heard of another way. But I decided to change a few things, and see if I could notice a difference.

So I dusted off my white teapot and tried a few new tricks. I filled the pot a quarter of the way with water and microwaved it, to preheat the pot. I was uncertain if the pot was microwave safe. I'm still a little unsure, since the water tends to heat slowly but one little spot at the bottom of the spot gets alarmingly hot very fast. I really hope the thing doesn't break. I made sure to keep the water for the tea boiling as hot and long as possible, and not cool down when I took it off the heat -- I knew the water had to be hot, but I didn't realize that it should be boiling when poured. I tried to respect the 3-5 minute brewing time, since I'm apt to just leave the bag in for twenty minutes. I don't mind strong, but I decided to give the short brewing time a try for taste. I realize that strength depends on the amount of tea, not the brewing time. And finally, I poured the milk in the cup first, and added the tea. As I feared, I used too much milk, and furthermore the tea was rather weak from brewing for such a short time. The tea was nice, but too weak and milky for my tastes. A second attempt with a little less milk and a little more brewing time produced a similar result. I think next time I'll use even less milk, and try two bags. I do use a large mug. I'll get it right. I think it will make a difference.

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Anonymous Bibi:

Thanks for the "lovely" and for the link. I'm glad that you like them. :)

I love tea! And I will take a look on your blogs suggestions. Thanks again.

Blogger Neil:

I love tea, too. But it is so hard to get a good cup of tea anywhere -- other than a Chinese restaurant. So, I always order coffee. Usually, if you order tea in a restaurant, they just throw a tea bag at you. It should be your life goal to educate American how good real tea can be.

Blogger bluewyvern:

The very worst -- which is also the most common, unfortunately -- is for you to be brought a tea bag and a rapidly-cooling cup of tepid already poured water, into which you must futiley dunk the teabag repeatedly and swirl it vigorously in the hopes of infusing even the slightest essence of tea into the room-temperature water. And when you ask for milk you are given a packet of coffee creamer. The resulting liquid is a poison concoction that should only be consumed in cases of extreme need or desperation.

But the coffee addict is catered to oh-so-lavishly, wherever he goes.

Anonymous Ladysusan:

MIF all the way!

Blogger bluewyvern:

I've never seen you do it that way...well, not that you usually use milk...but you've never corrected me, either!

Blogger AlegraMarcel:

"If you think you will like it with milk then it's probably best to put some milk into the bottom of the cup before you pour in the tea.1 If you pour milk into a cup of hot tea you will scald the milk. "

I disagree. If the tea goes into the cup first, it will be slightly cooler and less likely to scald the milk. Also, if you put the milk in first it's damn hard to get the right ratio of tea to mil, which can also add to a weak cuppa.


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