Tea Off

11 04 2007

The problem with Americans is that none of us knows how to make tea. Sad. Mystifying. True. To get the proper flavor of tea, the water has to be boilING (not boilED) when it hits the tea leaves. If merely hot, the tea will be insipid. That is why I had the off ritual of warming the tea pot first (so as not to cause the boilING water to cool down too fast as it hits the pot). That is why the ridiculous habit of an American waiter bringing to my table a tea cup, a tea bag (wretched) and a pot of hot water is the perfect way of “brewing” a thin pale watery cup of swill that nobody should even smell, let alone sip. When people are intrigued about why I make such a big thing about tea (and gone so far as to have constructed a tea room), it is simply because in America, nobody has ever had a good cup of tea. When you next go to Londontown, go to an M&S and buy a packet of Earl Grey Tea. Return to your flat and boil a kettle of water. As it is coming to a boil (re-read that so nought is lost in translation), open the sealed packet and sniff. You will feel a bit dizzy but in a warm fuzzy legal way. When the kettle has boiled, pour a little of it into a tea pot, swirl it about a bit and tip it out again. Put a couple (or three, depending on size of the tea pot) of tea bags into the pot. The righteous will use free leaves but baby steps. Bring the kettle back up to a boil and then pour the boiling water as quickly as you can into the pot. Let it stand fro three minutes and then pour into a tea cup. Some people will say you should not have milk with Earl Grey, just a slice of lemon. Screw them. Put the tea at the bottom of the cup before you pour in the tea. If you pour milk into a hot cup of hot tea, you will scald the milk. If you want lemon, go for it. Drink it. Now you know why I love tea.