Monday, 8 September 2008

Tea and Time?

Apologies for the two-week silence; I have been rather busy and had a number of things on my mind that are not tea! Almost inconceivable I know. I hope to make up for my laxness over the next few days.

Excitingly, I finally received the book I ordered from Amazon – The Story of Tea by Mary Lou and Robert Heiss. I have only briefly glanced through it, because as I say I have been busy and I want to be able to settle down with it –and a nice cup of tea of course – quietly at a time when I can devote plenty of attention to it. Additionally, being a moderately bulky hardback it does not lend itself to easy carrying around!

As a matter of some desperation due to being at extended periods of work-related training with no access to decent tea, I have been using quite a few tea bags over the last couple of weeks. Now in my weekly perusal of other blogs I read a lot about how tea is about slowing down and relaxing and that this can best be achieved by brewing your tea properly in a teapot, etc. I suppose I hadn’t really thought much about this per se, as I usually brew my tea in a teapot anyway, but using so many tea bags did cause me to stop and reflect a little bit about the differences between methods. Below follow a few mixed ramblings about tea, time and how they interrelate, at least for me.

If I am brewing my tea with a teabag in a mug or cup, I am impatient. I know that teabag tea such as Twinings or Liptons is so finely ground that it infuses more quickly than loose leaf tea (even a fine cut one like a CTC or a BOP). Even so I want to hurry. 30 seconds seems too long to wait, even when I know that 2-3 minutes will produce a better (relatively speaking) cup of tea. I still feel the need to hurry even when I am using a high quality teabag with full leaf inside, like those from T2.

However, if I am brewing my teabags in a teapot, as I occasionally have cause to do, I am not so rushed. I am able to let it steep for the required length of time without feeling the need to hurry up the process. Teapots equate to a quieter brewing spirit.

When it comes to drinking, though, I find that if I brew from a teabag in a mug, I often burn my mouth when I take my first sip. The tea is too hot, because the water has come straight from the kettle into the cup, and thence into my mouth only a couple of minutes later. Tea from a teapot tends to be a better drinking temperature, even if I have warmed the pot properly before brewing, because it has had a bit longer to sit and cool. Consequently, I can sometimes gulp down teapot-brewed tea in a most hasty fashion, whereas self-preservation means I must take my time over the mug brew.

This was sometime a paradox, but now the time gives it proof. If anyone else has any thoughts about tea and time, do post them in the comments. I would love to hear from you!

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