Sunday, January 30, 2011

Not The Kind of Tea Party Where Sarah Palin is Welcome.

Last year I read a book whose main character frequently made a cup of tea while deep in thought. As the woman1 mulled over her circumstances, her internal monologue would be interlaced with descriptions of how she chose a variety of tea, retrieved a mug, turned on the faucet, filled her mug, put the mug in the microwave and "zapped it" till it was "hot" and then plunked in the tea bag. IN THE MUG. THE MUG WITH "HOT" MICROWAVED WATER!?

At least 10 times in the course of this 250 page novel (whose name now eludes me, thank heavens) the woman made tea in this manner.  Every single time, I would grit my teeth and think, "Do people really do this? Are there people in the world who don't know that you should use a kettle and a teapot to brew up a cup of tea? If the answer is yes, I hope to hell I never wind up in their house and watch them make me a cup of tea in the microwave because my head will explode."

So for the benefit of those who are new to tea drinking, or whose ancestors are not from tea-producing nations or the British Commonwealth, or who haven't had my mother as a customer in their restaurant, here's how to brew a pot of tea for me:

1. Fill the kettle, and put it on the stove and bring it to a boil.
2. Scald the teapot and your mug(s) with some of the boiling hot water. Dump out the water in the teapot.
3. Put your teabag(s) in the teapot. Use one teabag per cup of water. If using loose tea, use 1 teaspoon per cup.
4. Pour the boiling hot water into the teapot.
5. Put a cozy on the teapot.
6. Wait five minutes while it brews.
7. Retrieve the teabag(s), throw it away.
8. Dump out the water you've used to temper your mug(s).
9. Decant the tea into the mug(s). If you are only serving several mugs, fill the first one halfway (this tea will be the weakest bit of the batch). Then fill the other mugs. Return to the initial cup and fill it the rest of the way (this tea will be the stronger).
10. If you are having black tea, you can add milk, cream, sugar or honey. If you are having a green or herbal variety you may add a miserly amount of honey.

As I'm writing this post I'm sipping a properly brewed mug of Spicy Chocolate Rooibos. It's one of two delicious teas (the other is The Earl's Garden) I bought yesterday at the David's Tea shop in Big City:

I'm very impressed that Big City is supporting a tea shop. Sure the ratio is one tea shop to 12 pawn shops, to 38 tattoo parlours, but it's progress.  And it's just another reason for me to force Mr Wrath to go to the mall in Big City.

Anyone else a fan of David's Tea? What do you suggest I buy next time? I was so overwhelmed yesterday I had a tough time making up my mind. I'm happy with both choices (the Rooiboos is nice and smooth, chocolatey and light). The online description for Honeybush Lemon Ginger sounds a lot like a Tazo tea blend I use to buy at Starbucks, before they reinvented/ruined that line last year.

• • •
1 -- possibly relevant descriptors: white, middle class, American, lawyer, in her 30s, single.


  1. OK, I was feeling smug at first b/c though I don't drink much tea, I do NOT own a microwave so do not make tea like that. However, I do pour the boiling hot kettle water into my mug with the tea bag, so I suppose I am only one step removed from the totally uncivilized.

    But, I am not a big tea drinker. Coffee is my drink of choice. And, like you with tea, I have my rules with coffee. Namely, do not make me (shudder) instant, or take a big can of preground coffee out of your fridge. It's funny how we get picky about things. I used to drink Miller Lite beer too (blurgh).

  2. Well, I'd get about HALF of that list right. You WILL still let me serve you tea some day, right?


    WoM? ....




  3. The right way in my house involves loose tea. From Murchie's. :-)

    Though I do use bags more often these days because I'm in a hurry.

    But tea made from water zapped in a microwave is disgusting. The taste is completely wrong.

  4. @hornblower -- Oh, Murchies! I haven't thought of them in years. I've been to their store in Victoria and it's just quintessentially inner harbour.

    @Mary-LUE -- erm, well maybe I could make tea for YOU? Yes. Let's do that!

    @FOM -- At the grocery today I saw Sanka. A whole shelf full of bottles of Sanka! Who is still buying Sanka?! Where the hell do I live?

    I have been known on rare occasions to brew camomile tea directly in a mug but only when I'm really sick. And only when there is no one around to see. Okay. There. I'm a hypocrite. OKAY!? Are you happy now!?

  5. So...I totally boil my water in the microwave and pour it over the bag in my mug. There are times though, that I just put that bag right on top of a cold mug of water, ZAP IT IN THE MICROWAVE for two minutes and then let it continue to steep (is this the proper term?) for three more minutes. I don't even own a tea kettle anymore, and have never owned a teapot (burnt the bottom of the one kettle I owned previously. Damn Americans, drinking microwave tea!

    I drink several mugs a day...herbal, green, and black.

    If you'd have me over, I'd love to drink a proper mug of tea. I'm sure that yours IS far superior.

  6. Hee Hee I was so laughing, tea in the microwave is so bad and yeah I think when you grow up thinking that it sticks! My Mom would add to your list "fresh cold water in the kettle" I am turning 40 and she will still occasionally ask me if I used cold water. Something about the oxygen...anyway I do what you do with chamomile for a few herbal teas, right in my mug, but not very often. I am a teapot girl all the way. I can remember my Dad's Mom (English lady) would only drink tea from Mark's & Spencer with their biscuits.

    I just clicked on the David's Tea link...there is a location in a nearby mall, how did I miss it? I have been to another tea store called Teaopia which have awesome teas as well.

    I think I would love the Earl Grey, but not the Rooibos I always find they smell like mold to me. Weird. Next time go for Oolong, maybe the one with jasmine. Yum.

  7. I'm going to admit this, because I believe you will still be my friend after. I've given this post way too much thought today. More than the tiger mom post even. As I sip my last mug of the evening (mint, I usually end my day with mint or sleepy time) I realize I am very curious. Perhaps curious enough to purchase myself a proper set up and then do a very scientific, er subjective, survey of my microwave tea vs. proper tea made with your careful instruction. I'll let you know how it goes.

  8. OK I have been thinking about this tea post too! I am thinking about my Grandma, drinking tea as a child, how I take my tea the same way my Mom does, lots of tea memories I guess.

    OM- do it! All you need is a kettle and teapot - so easy. I promise you will never go back to microwave tea again. Don't forget the cold water in the kettle!

  9. I was raised by a Welsh mother and I always make my tea right. (Good job describing the steps!) When we visited my aunt in Wales, she was pleased to see I'd been brought up correctly. So two summers ago we were visiting my cousin in Swansea, and her daughter (age 20 or so) made us tea by boiling the water properly but dunking the bag right in the cup! I was horrified. No really!
    My report: You can taste the difference, but it was still drinkable because it was good tea to start with.
    Microwaved tea SUCKS!!