I enjoy tea. I don’t always get to indulge my love of tea as often as I might like, but I do quite enough making a nice, hot cup of tea now and then. I think Douglas Adams summed up both how to prepare, and why Americans generally don’t like it, far better than I could hope to. Of course, I tend to think Douglas Adams did most things far better than I could hope to, so my opinion might not be the most impartial.
For work, I tend to buy Twinings Earl Grey, the 25 count in bags. Yes, yes, I know bags are blasphemous, but I don’t really have the time to deal with loose-leaf at work. Plus, being stuck using a microwave to heat my water really limits my options.
I did try the English Breakfast today, and it has almost no flavor. Not very impressed. I’ve got no idea what I did wrong, either – I heated the water for the same amount of time (just to the start of the boil), I let it steep for a full five minutes, and yet when all was done all I could taste was the sugar I’d added. I don’t add a lot of sugar, but that’s all the flavor it had.
At home I prefer to use loose leaf, and switch between Earl Grey, a rather nice black-tea blend I’ve been picking up at the international market here (not sure of the name), and some yerba mata I from Teavana. I make it by the mug, generally, using my trusty electric kettle. I hope to move up to ceramic kettle at some point, but only if I know I’ll be having more than one cup of tea at a time.
I usually put in two lumps of sugar (I actually prefer honey to sugar, but it’s not always on hand), although I’ll toss a third one in occasionally. I like to keep my tea right on the edge of sweet and bitter – I find the mixture to be refreshing. I rarely use milk though – I don’t buy it very often, and when I do it tends to sour before I remember I have it.
As I write this, I’m struck by what a large impact tea has had on this country, a country that doesn’t really enjoy drinking it at all. One of the major events preceding the American Revolutionary War, the Boston Tea Party, would not have happened at all if it weren’t for both taxes and tea, two things most Americans don’t actually like.
I wonder if those guerrillas had targeted some other tasty beverage (or taxed food item), if we might not be the coffee drinkers we, as a nation, tend to be today. Imagine, if you will, a country free of StarBucks, a country were beat-poets hold their competitive poetry sessions in tea-houses, a land where the morning stimulant of choice takes just a bit longer to brew correctly.
Perhaps then I could go to a restaurant, order tea without having to preface it with the word “hot”, and be delivered something that is actually drinkable. Then again, I’m sure we’d have invented and “perfected” the art of instant tea, mangling it even more than we do today.
I guess I’ll just stick with things how they are.