“What shall I write about tomorrow?” I pointlessly asked Mrs. F last night. Pointless because I don’t need help in writing it and would struggle to write about a topic at length which someone else has thrown at me. I think I just wanted her to ghost write it for me, but she has enough to write about at the moment. “Tea”, she said. “Crap”, I thought. She then gave me the abstract, but again I just wanted her to write it for me. I am lazy. Oh well, here goes.
I love tea. It’s a major part of my life and anyone who doesn’t love tea is an idiot. This is fact. I’m a coffee lover and there are times when only coffee will do. I grind my own beans (poncey) and drink it black. This is the only way to drink it. Certainly don’t get bogged down in where your beans are coming from and how freshly ground they are if you’re then going to throw a load of frothy milk and vanilla syrup into it.
Coffee isn’t always the answer though. It’s too caffeinated as well. “Tea has the same amount of caffeine as coffee”. Well, that’s a nonsense as all non idiots know. They’re not the same, there’s about double the amount in coffee as there is in tea, which is why after a while coffee sends me a bit mental. However, I’m not here to explain in detail how and when I drink various caffeinated drinks. I realise this blog can be dull but that would be taking things a bit far.
There are two reasons I write. The first is that tea is about more than drinking a hot drink, it’s about shared experience. Drinking tea with another person or other people is, to me, the same as sharing a pint with them. So often we stop for the tea, we stand together whilst it’s being made, we then stop what we’re doing and chat whilst the most refreshing and invigorating of drinks is consumed and then collectively get back to what we were doing. Being British of course, tea is the fail-safe heal-all solution to a multitude of physical and emotional issues. If something’s afoot, let’s make a cuppa and everything will be OK. A long day? Is there anything better than a partner greeting you with a steaming cup of tea? Not only is it a sublimely delicious thing to consume, it’s part of the fabric of society (at least in Britain). If I go to visit someone and they don’t offer me tea, there must be something wrong. Literally there’s not a day that goes by when somebody or other doesn’t offer to make a cup of tea. We ought to have water, but nobody could stop for a chat over a glass of water. Or Diet Coke. Or pretty much anything else. Part of that is the nature of the hot water. The brewing time and cooling time is perfect for a new arrival in a house to sort themselves out, removing shoes, coats etc., get settled and what not. Then there’s a natural period of time, a limited period, where the tea is at optimum drinking temperature and even though it’s different from person to person, there soon comes a time when it’s all got to be drunk or will be too cold. This is then a good dividing line to either get back to work, or move on to something else. Of course moving on to the second cup is often the best way. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Of course to me there’s a specific way in which tea should be made, but I’m not a snob about putting tea bags in mugs. Pots are preferable of course, but not vital. Physical abuse of the bag is an utter no-no. Love the bag, caress the bag, but don’t squeeze it too much, nobody needs that. Milk second, obviously, nice and strong, but no sugar. Sugar is for pudding, of course, but if you want sugar I can just about cope with putting it in for you. Not too much milk though, eh? I want my tea to taste of tea, not watered down teay water. (I’m pretty confident that ‘teay’ isn’t a word, but I hope that as you read this you understand exactly what ‘teay’ means).
So often in my life, things have been made better by tea. The comedy ‘ahhhh’ which comes from the first mouthful is not contrived, it’s an aural manifestation of the memories of a thousand cups and the way they all made you feel. It’s a thousand happinesses, expressed through association with this most wondrous of beverages. Am I taking this a bit far? I could go on. So many sad times have been made fractionally better by someone offering a decent cup of tea, strong and in a good workable mug. No cups for me please, my fingers are too fat. There’s literally nothing like pouring the first cup from a pot, knowing you’ve made it right and brewed it perfectly. The steaming frothy loveliness is incomparable. Yes, I like the plunging of the cafetiere, but it doesn’t bring with it the history of social interaction and the love with which so many cups of tea have been offered. OK perhaps I’m going on a bit now.
Of course, it’s the things that it goes with too: tea and toast. Not coffee and toast! That would be stupid! Tea and crumpets? Tea and cake? Tea and biscuits? All the best things go with tea much better than they go with anything else. Fish? Mushrooms? You don’t drink them with tea. That’s because they’re shit (and mushrooms aren’t even food, they’re fungus but that’s another story). So many of the joys of life are tea based. Tea in bed? Amazing. Sprite in bed? Rubbish! A bit thirsty in the evening? Cup of strawberry and banana smoothie? No thanks! Cup of tea every time.
The thing is, despite all the other crazy wonderful things which have been created in this modern interwebosphere based world of ours, nothing comes close to the dried leaves of an Indian of Chinese plant, soaked in boiling hot water. You’d have thought they’d have come up with something better in all those years, but it’s not the case. It’s adoption as the most British of British drinks is a wonderful thing, and one I’m happy to play up to and indulge the stereotype. But that’s not why we drink it; we drink it because it’s bloody delicious. And no, idiots, it doesn’t cool you down. Please try and grasp that “refreshing” and “cooling down” are not the same thing.
Of course if you don’t like tea, then this all means nothing and I’m sure you’ll have a lovely biscuits and orange squash break later. Frankly if you don’t like tea you’re an idiot. I’ve said enough. Tomorrow I’ll talk about the dark side of tea. Yes, there is one. Right, I’m off to make another cuppa. I am not going mental.