I must confess, I am something of a nanna.
I drink coffee in the morning. In fact, if I don’t drink coffee in the morning there are two chances of anything getting done – buckley’s and none*. I like my coffee strong, well-made and preferably made by my darling, though this isn’t always a possibility.
After lunch, I like to have myself a short (or not-so-short, depending on the particular circumstances) nap to recharge the batteries. I find I can carry on without the nap, but my productivity in the afternoon is much better for it.
I knit. I do cross-stitch. I moan about the terrible music young-en’s play these days (unless it’s my own). I sew. I grow herbs and tend them lovingly like a retiree would their magnolias. I bake.
After my afternoon nap however, I like to partake of that sterling past-time: afternoon tea.
I am fussy when it comes to my tea. I will drink any kind o tea at least once, preferably three times across various moods and scenarios just to see if I do or do not like it, BUT (and it is such a big but that bold AND underline are most definitely necessary) there are certain protocols that simply MUST be adhered to.
First and foremost, please for the love of all that is sacred do not use anything but a teapot! When I say teapot, I mean any kind of receptacle actually manufactured for the sole purpose of holding and pouring tea into a drinking receptacle. Not an urn. I don’t care what they had to do in war times in England, it’s just not cricket. Not a tea bag, unless that is all you have available (yes, those reader’s who know me personally will know I do from time to time use teabags, however I disdain the practice and find it rather boorish). DO warm the pot and cups with hot water first. DO allow the tea to brew for the required time, not less and certainly not more. Do use a strainer when pouring English-style tea that has been made with loose tea leaves. DO add the milk to the cup first.
DO NOT clank your teaspoon around your cup as though it were a musical instrument. DO NOT double boil your water. DO NOT make your tea so sugary that you cannot possibly taste the tea. DO NOT add milk to Lady Grey (the Critic’s current, and somewhat perennial, favourite tea), it is just plain wrong.
Why?! I hear you ask in tomes most plaintive. BECAUSE I SAID SO! You wouldn’t stick your Beluga caviar on a Vegemite sandwich. You wouldn’t dream of having and ice cream and tomato ketchup soup. Don’t spoil my tea.
Tea time is a chance to sit, relax, recharge the batteries, console yourself that the world may be going to hell in a hand basket, but just for that very moment as you sip at the warm, fragrant drink in your cup, all is right and well.
Too often I see people at cafe’s asking for tea. Apart from the fact that the best temperature for brewing black tea (the “average” tea everyone in the western world seems most familiar with) is 100 degrees Celsius and the best temperature for pulling a coffee shot out of a machine is 92-96 degrees Celsius (as most cafe’s use the hot water dispenser on their coffee machine to set up the tea for brewing) it seems highly unlikely that you’ll be getting the most out of your tea from a cafe that is not a specialist in the art of brewing tea. Also, most people either under-brew (resulting in a weak, rather forgetful cup) or over-brew (resulting in a cold, bitter cup). It’s a travesty that such people should be allowed to handle such a precious commodity!
Okay. Okay… Maybe you’re all right. Maybe I take this too seriously. But think of it this way. If it weren’t for people like myself, we wouldn’t have Michelin Star restaurants, as we’d all be happy eating whatever slop arrived at the table. Yes. I rather like that analogy.
So this has been something of a deviation from my recent format in that it is not a direct critique, but more of a lesson. My apologies. I shall have another review for you rather shortly. Until then, bon appetit. Also, if you have any suggestions for where you would like me to try the food, please comment and let me know!
* A reference to “buckley’s” for non-Aussie reader’s:
and in my opinion, all tea should be served black. but that is just my personal taste.
There are definitely some teas that do actually benefit from having a splash of milk in them. However, I think we have become a bit too complacent and accustomed to the practice of having nondescript black tea with half a litre of milk in it. I think once people got over their preconceptions, they might enjoy a cup of Earl Grey with a slice of lemon, or other teas in their true form.