A Perfect Cup of Tea

I am a snob. There I said it. It’s true. Anyone that knows me knows that I am, unrepentantly, a snob. Specifically, I am a tea snob. There are some things in this life that I will not skimp on. And one of those things is a leafy beverage that I enjoy, usually in the morning. No regrets, no apologies.

I once made a joke to a friend that coffee was the drink of the masses, tea was the drink of the elite. It was said in jest. But is it?

As says the all-knowing (sic) Wikipedia:

According to Chinese legend, the history of tea began in 2737 B.C.E. when the Emperor Shen Nong, a skilled ruler and scientist, accidentally discovered tea. While boiling water in the garden, a leaf from an overhanging wild tea tree drifted into his pot.

I have no idea if this is actually true or not but it is a nice story. And since there is no actual documentation of said incident, it comes down through legend. And we do know that many legends have a basis in truth… China is credited with the invention of tea. It is now worldwide and is grown in many countries. There are almost as many flavours of tea as there are hairs on your head. If you do indeed have hair. There are also a great many customs about the best way to drink said beverage. It is confusing world.

I grew up drinking tea after dinner. It was a family thing. My mother made a pot of tea with Red Rose tea bags. My cup was always heavily fortified with milk and sugar.  When I was in school a group of us used to meet for coffee. Usually the boys would go and get the beverages and I always asked for tea with milk and sugar. My Styrofoam cup would appear with a teabag floating in a milky liquid. I started to drink my tea clear, without the milk and sugar. I still can’t get that image out of my head!  Over the years I evolved as did my taste buds. Some 30 years ago my sister introduced me to loose-tea and I never looked back. It became an obsession. I investigated the correct way to steep tea, to store it, which pots to use for which tea, etc, etc, etc.

Now I use simpler means. I have a dedicated infuser for my black teas, I drink out of glass mugs so I can gauge the steeping by the colour of the tea not the timer. I also only use loose tea. A few years ago, I saw a documentary on tea and the process the leaves go through to be mass produced into those teeny tiny bags. And then I understood the comment about the masses and the elite. If the documentary is true, then those teabags are filled with the dregs after the proper leaves have been removed. Did I feel sanctimonious? You betcha! I am quite sure it’s not as bad as this. I do however believe the flavour of loose tea is richer than the bags. Is it convenient? No. But I can handle a little inconvenience for a perfect cup of tea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

57 thoughts on “A Perfect Cup of Tea

  1. oldmainer

    Was a time when I thought good tea was an oxymoron. But hot tea and honey has helped me through more then a few sore throats. My mom loved a cup of tea, bagged I’m afraid. But tea none the less.

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  2. dweezer19

    I agree Pam. Tea making is a soulful art, a kind of meditation for me. Kast Summer I grew lemon verbena and yerba buena which, when dried and brewed together made a lovely tea. Yerba buena has a lot of health benefits too which is why I started using fresh tea leaves in the first place. I got totally hooked on loose teas when the Yeavana chain opened up. When we have lived in or near large cities I can usually find an Asian market that carries really good green tea. My favorite of the traditional teas is Lady Grey. My Mom drank both coffee and tea and when we were sick it was always hot tea with honey and lemon that we got. Otherwise I was raised to drink it with milk and sugar. I was a you g adult when a tea drinking friend who was spending the day with me cringed at the idea of milk in tea. So I tried it without and have been drinking it that way since. Of course I am also a coffee snob since I never liked it growing up or as a young adult. It wasn’t until we ventured to Costa Rica and I discovered really good coffee that I became a fan. We used to order our coffee directly from a coffee finca down there. I love Whole Foods that have a coffee store inside. I get to try different beans without buying a whole supply. Here’s to tea time Pam! ☕️

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  3. Murphy's Law

    Tea is my drink. But I bag it! I’ve had freshly brewed loose leaf tea and it’s delicious.

    Enjoy this simple pleasure Pam.
    🐾Ginger 🐾

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  4. rangewriter

    I know some coffee snobs, too. There is this whole thing about slow coffee. I confess I’m neither tea or coffee snob. I wish I liked tea better. Maybe it’s because I’ve had mostly the dregs from the itty bitty tea bags. But ever cuppa I’ve been served arrives full of hope. But when I drink it, I think, meh. I could have just had hot water.
    I learned the hot water trick from my father-in-law. His doctor had told him to cut down on coffee. Ho he went cold turkey to NO coffee. When the rest of us gathered over a cup of coffee after dinner or in the morning, he’d insist on his plain cup of hot water. I tried it. I realized its not a whole lot different than drinking hot coffee or hot tea. It’s the warmth most of us crave…or I should say, I crave.

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  5. John Hric

    I live with an orange pekoe tea drinker. We usually have a dozen boxes on hand just in case there is a disturbance in the force. Back in the day when we used to travel we always carried an emergency supply. There are quite a few establishments that have have every other variety of tea or the attitude that you will drink what we have on hand. We are almost sorry we are out of that flavor. And while coffee is my wake up beverage when we travel there is straight green tea in the travel mug for the drive. And for the summer raspberry cold brew. Snob on young lady.

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  6. Emilie

    For me, it is coffee. I am an incredible coffee snob. There are teas I like and teas I don’t care for, but it’s so big deal to me. When I travel I always take my own coffee and equipment to make it with. When I used to drink, I was also a beer snob. Very few beers could measure up to my standards. I could drink cheap wine, but beer? No way. Fussy fussy.

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    1. dweezer19

      Me too on the beer issue. I think because I used to not like it at all but I had only been offered the garden variety American brews. Once someone introduced me to dark and craft brews, I was hooked.

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  7. John W. Howell

    I’m with you on the loose tea, Pamela. I have a tea ball that I use. Yes, clear glass cups that are also double-walled to keep the tea at a lip scorching temperature. On the coffee front, I’m as fussy. Not with the actual coffee beans but with the prep. I use Costco Columbian but fresh grind and an espresso machine that turns out a great 5oz cup of coffee. Clear glass double wall for the coffee too. (nope don’t mix the two)

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    1. quiall Post author

      ” . . . tea is one of the main stays of civilization . . ” Loved the article! Agree with some points. Disagree with others. It truly is a personal journey.

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  8. Garfield Hug

    Haha! You are right in that for me, I feel that tea drinking by the British and their dainty tea cups does hint of snobbery. Tea is always a hoity toity event with cucumber sandwiches, scones and tea cakes!👍😀

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  9. Garfield Hug

    Yes, scrumptious with cream and jam. Hard to find good scones in lil red dot these days as the more sophisticated palate has given way to fusion foods that gives a mish mesh of tastes that forgets the simple tastes of simple foods. I love tea – especially Earl Grey and English Breakfast. 😉 Take care and stay warm and the weather must be cooler in your part of the world now.

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    1. quiall Post author

      Clotted cream and home made jam . . . Things are cooler here: 15C this morning, 23C by afternoon, 30s this weekend. Much better. Stay safe.

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  10. James

    I’m already a coffee snob and a beer snob. I would like to be a wine snob but that’s proving financially unviable. I think my family will despair of me if I add tea snob to the list, but frankly you have made a compelling case.

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  11. joylennick

    Hi Pamela, I so enjoyed your post on tea, and all the others… Being a Brit, I was brought up in the 30s and 40s on loose-leaf tea and my father was a passionate imbiber. In WW2 (Air Force)he carried a small teapot & packet of tea in his kit-bag, so when they went on long train journeys abroad, he would ask the driver for boiled water & make himself a brew. I like mine served in a tea-cup & eschew mugs; preferring coffee out as I’m fussy about the flavour…I have succumbed to tea-bags but think loose superior. You may smile at my post on tea: https:.//joylennick.wordpress.com/ Many years ago, I won ‘Afternoon Tea on the Roof’ of a Kensington hotel which had a roof garden, with dainty sandwiches, pastries and scones &, of course, the ‘best loose leaf tea.’ Cheers.xx

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    1. quiall Post author

      Oh a proper English Afternoon Tea! I have experienced it a few times (in London, England and in Oakville, Canada) It is sooo special. I understand travelling with your own tea. I did. Loved your story. I think Karma has been satisfied. Have you ever been back?

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  12. joylennick

    Hi, No, as we are retired to Spain and do less travelling these days. We have plenty of great memories though…We are so grateful for that as we both beat cancer along the way. Wishing you many pain-free days. x

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