For Henry Fielding, “love and scandal are best sweeteners of tea”. However, these days, upon ordering a cup of tea, you would get a cup of boiled water and a tea bag lying next to it. Only if you are lucky enough, a cookie or some other sweetener would be there, too.
Obviously, but sadly, tea time is no longer a special occasion as it used to be. What is more, there are not many people who still consider tea to be a good drink. However, in order to be able to fully appreciate the flavor of tea in your cup, you have to make it properly. This could be tricky, since there is no unique recipe for a decent cup of tea.
An anecdote from Yoko Ono’s and John Lennon’s life perfectly illustrates the point. The famous couple was preparing tea in the kitchen, it was just a year before Lennon’s sudden death.
“Yoko, Yoko, you’re supposed to first put the tea bags in, and then the hot water.” John took the role of the tea maker, for being English. So I gave up doing it.
It was nice to be up in the middle of the night, when there was no sound in the house, and sip the tea John would make. One night, however, John said: “I was talking to Aunt Mimi this afternoon and she says you are supposed to put the hot water in first. Then the tea bag. I could swear she taught me to put the tea bag in first, but …”
“So all this time, we were doing it wrong?”
If you are not an avid fan of tea, or if you are unsure about what steps you are supposed to follow when making tea, then you should follow George Orwell’s list of instructions. He said that nobody should dare depart from this set of rules pointing out that tea is one of the “mainstays of civilization”.
- use Indian or Ceylonese tea
- tea should be made in small quantities — that is, in a teapot, preferably ceramic
- pot should be warmed beforehand over direct heat
- the tea should be strong, six tea spoons per 1 litre
- the tea should be put straight into the pot, no bags or strainers
- take the teapot to the kettle and not the other way about
- stir the tea or shake the pot
- drink out of a good breakfast cup, tall mug-shaped tea cup
- don’t use creamy milk; pour the cream off the milk before using it for tea
- pour tea into the cup before adding milk
- no sugar!
And what about you, dear reader ? It is international tea day, so share with us: how do you take your tea? Feel free to write down in the comments.
By Maja Žikić