Monday, July 23, 2012

My First REAL Cup of Tea

Unlike Heidi, I'm a relatively recent convert to tea. My "Saul on the Road to Damascus" moment came on a trip to England. At the urging of Rick Steves, we went to the Bramah Museum of Tea and Coffee.

For those of you who might want to visit the museum, you should check first as it was closed for some time. The website currently seems active but indicates the museum itself is closed.

I was intrigued when Mr. Bramah said that it has been a "diabolical" century for tea. First, who says "diabolical" in every day conversation? Second, why was it so bad?

The tea bag has been a disaster for tea, he explained. Tea bags require the tea to be ground up into fine bits which ruins the flavor. In addition, tea bags allow for the use of lower quality tea which of course does not taste as good. Lastly, the art of making tea has been lost.

The museum had a little cafe attached to it with crystal clear instructions on how to make proper tea. I selected a loose-leaf Earl Grey for no other reason than Captain Picard drinks it on Star Trek.

I should point out that if you buy our pyramid sachets, you don't need any of the following. However, here are the instructions if you want to go the loose leaf route:

(1) Choose the right size teapot, preferably with a grill at the base of the spout.

(2) Warm the teapot with water that's just below boiling point. Swirl the water and drain it out.

(3) Use one teaspoon of loose leaf tea for each person and one for the pot.

(4) Fill the teapot with freshly boiled water. Never re-boil the water.

(5) Stir the tea gently for a few moments and replace the lid.

(6) Allow tea to infuse for exactly 5 minutes. Don't guess, use a timer.

(7) While infusing, use a tea cosy to keep the pot warm.

(8) Pour milk at room temperature into each cup. 1 1/2 tea spoons per cup.

(9) Use a mesh strainer to keep the leaves out of the cup. Fill the cup to within 1 cm from the rim.

(10) Leave teas in the pot. Add more hot water to the pot.

(11) When refilling your cup, dump out the existing cold tea before refilling.

The results were wonderful. Like most Americans, I'd never had good tea in my life. The combination of tea, milk and sugar gave it a consistency a lot like good hot chocolate but not quite as sweet. It was an eye-opening experience to say the least.

For me, this is too much work on a daily basis even with the vastly superior results. That's true of most people, that's why the tea bag won out even though the tea tastes nowhere as good.

Our pyramid tea bags give you the best of both worlds. It's exactly the same tea as loose leaf tea, but it's pre-packaged so you can make it either in a teapot or (like I do) right in my cup.

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