You Had Me at Tea…

Posted: 22 May, 2018 in Hope, Tea
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“Tea or coffee?” If you’re offering me a choice and the first option is tea rather than coffee, we’re going to get along well.

Between the 18th century and today, we’ve gone from a nation of tea drinkers to one of coffee lovers. Where we once dressed up like Red Indians to protest an increase in the tax on tea, we now proudly part with our cash for an overpriced cup of something so loaded with sugar and flavorings that I don’t even dare call it coffee.

A smart-alec reply has now inflated to “Yeah, that and 7 bucks will get you a cup coffee.”

The irony is that I’m not above drinking coffee when I’m out and about: after all, it’s all but impossible to find a restaurant that knows how to brew a proper cup of tea. Even those places that do still use bagged teas (I’m looking at you, Starbuck$).

I prefer the magic of measuring out the right amount of whole tea leaves, boiling the water, and watching them expand and become a beverage.

My tea of choice remains a nice black Assam from India. I first encountered this magical substance when I bought my first bag of imported Irish Breakfast tea, which used Assam as its base for the blend. And no, drinking imported tea didn’t make me a snob — it was simply cheaper than buying it locally.

Now I live in Rochester, NY. I buy my tea locally now, at my favorite Indian (Indians from India) food store. I have two blends I alternate: straight black Assam, and black Assam lightly spiced with cardamom.

When I really want to get fancy, I’ll brew a cup and add a teaspoon of Masala tea spice. This results in what most people mistakenly call “Chai tea;” mistakenly because chai means tea. When you order chai tea, you’re ordering tea tea.

Then again, you also tune in on your television set in order to watch “The The Angels Angels” (a direct translation “The Los Angeles Angels.)

Bagged teas

I rarely buy tea in bags. That’s mostly because most of them contain “fannings,” which are the bits and pieces that are left after the whole leaves are removed. They’re the tea world’s version of floor sweepings, except they’ve not actually been on the floor.

An exception is PGA Tips. This is a quality tea made from the tips of choice tea leaves, blended and then packaged in unique pyramid-shaped packets. PG Tips is the only bagged tea I ever buy.

For more information about PG Tips and their commitment to sustainable farming, visit their website.

I just realized that this tale is starting to sound like an advert for PG Tips, so I’ll close now and return to enjoying my latest cup of Assam tea, which I always brew strong. How strong? My Nana always said that a proper cup of tea should be so strong “that a wee mousie might trot along the top of it.”

Why did I list “Hope” as one of the categories for this entry? Because as we all know (or should), “Where there’s tea, there’s hope.”

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