The Trauma of Tea Brewing

Tea.

It is quite possibly the most British solution to any problem faced. Stressed? Have a cup of tea. Ruthlessly dumped? Tea will make it better. What is the first thing people do when they get in to work – often even if they were late? Make a cup of tea. What’s the best kind of procrastination? Making a pot of tea.

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I am a tea lover. Unfortunately, I have been told many a time, that perhaps tea ‘brewing’ is not my forte. Something that should be a relatively simple task – bag + water + milk is enough to cause high levels of distress. But somehow, tea brewing often becomes a most stressful task. For example, when you ask someone how they take their tea and they proceed to give you an intense description of they like it.

What does someone mean when they say a dash of milk? What is a dash?! What does it mean!! At least when people ask for sugar they often specify in great detail how much to put in – ‘’about 1.5 teaspoons’’. But then this again raises its own never ending questions – do you want a heaped teaspoon? A level teaspoon? More importantly, why are you having sugar in your tea anyway?! Or the most confusing tea related description of all – the elusive builder’s tea. What is a builder’s tea? How strong should a builder’s tea be? But the tea related problems don’t just end there. When you are the brewer, there is so much pressure on you to get the optimum cuppa. An issue that I often face when placed in charge of tea making, which is often very heartlessly pointed out to me, is my impatience when brewing. ‘’You just don’t leave the tea bag in long enough Soph!’’ or ‘’Sophie that tea is grey and looks like rats piss – did you even squeeze the bag’’?!

I often find myself trying to put the tea bag back in, but then causing myself a great overflow as I do so. Out comes the tea towels, frantically mopping up the tsunami that I’ve just caused trying to please everyone. Maybe it would just be easier if every tea lover everywhere just carried a colour chart. Then you could just say I’ll have colour number 5, and it takes the stress out of tea brewing for everyone! Let us not even mention the differing viewpoints on the adding milk debate – pre or post bag?

Then, after the tea is brewed you face the following trials and tribulations.

  1. Getting the tea out to your waiting   friends/colleagues/plumber/builder

You end up spilling it everywhere as you frantically juggle either a tray or 3 cups, down the mug, down yourself – it’s just a nightmare. Then you have the faff of trying to find coasters in order to preserve the tea table!

  1. Forgetting your tea

We’ve all had it – that god awful moment when you realise you have forgotten to drink your tea. You touch the mug – you get that moment when you realise ‘IT’S STILL WARM’! Then you go to take a sip – and you realise you have been deceived. The tea is actually stone cold. Oh the shame.

  1. The biscuit drop

And let’s not forget the heart-breaking moment as you settle down, to finally enjoy that cup of tea…you dunk your biscuit in…and it breaks and falls back in. Then it dawns on you that not only have you lost a precious half biscuit, but that your cup of tea is now quite possibly ruined, with lots of soggy biscuit bits at the bottom. Not ideal.

  1. The ‘’lost’’ tea bag

But the worst kind of tea brewer – and this is one thing I am not guilty of – are those who leave the tea bag in the cup. It all looks fine, it may even look like the ideal cup of tea, but lurking in the depths, a tea bag lies in wait to come and take you by surprise.

Tea brewing – all very stressful. But nothing beats that feeling when you finally get the finest cup of tea; a tea that is perfectly brewed and at optimum temperature so you can drink without burning off your taste buds. Ahh.

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45 thoughts on “The Trauma of Tea Brewing

    1. If you love mugs with witty phrases try the ones Grammar grumble mugs. I am not connected to the Literary gift company but that is where I got mine. One of them reads: Don’t lose the loose-leaf tea! (Since getting that mug I never mix up lose and loose again), Another is about their, they’re and there.

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  1. Your travails of making a cup of tea brings back memories of my last visit to a tea garden in a place called Munnar, in southern India. The garden manager gave a presentation on the making of a good cuppa. Boiling water must be poured on to the tea bag or dust tea duly allowing the vapour to settle in the cup; in other words, the brew must be kept closed with a lid fully trapping the vapour inside the cup or the kettle, whereby we get the maximum flavour with all its rousing effects. It is believed that in the battlefield a wounded and unconscious Lord Rama was energised and restored to action in his fight against Ravan by the magic brew brought to him by Hanuman, the simian warrior. That elixir is our daily cup that cheers…best wishes.

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  2. You only have to look at how tea was made prior to the introduction of the tea bag to make a proper cuppa. Would you have put milk in the cup and then added loose tea? no. There is also a subtle difference in flavour as to whether you put the milk in first or last. Also by adding the milk to the tea you can control the amount of milk that goes in according to how long the tea has brewed (in Britain we also call it letting the tea ‘draw’). Tea stops brewing properly once it meets the milk so what does that tell you about putting the tea bag in the milk before adding hot water? And the water should be coming to or going off the boil – not boiling. I love tea, I drink around eight mugs a day but I’m afraid nothing could induce me to drink it without sugar or cold, ugh,ugh, ugh. 🙂

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    1. I never knew tea stops brewing when it meets the milk! who knew!

      Also I never thought about how we used to use leaves before bags – very valid point on the pre/post bag debate!!

      Thanks for reading!! 🙂

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  3. Yes, I had no idea exactly how stressful the tea brewing ordeal can be. My Dad liked tea, but he had a bad habit of leaving the cups around the house and forgetting them, the way people do with their glasses! Then he’d hunt it down and have to warm it up again!

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  4. This post really made me smile! As I’m from a family of tea addicts I do treat brewing a cuppa as a serious business, but I always appreciate the gesture when I am the receiver. Even if it is a poor quality brew which looks more akin to dish water than a refreshing beverage, I will still politely accept it and make a point of washing it down.
    There is plenty of stress involved in making tea, the best thing to do is appreciate one when you get the chance!

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  5. Very nice post. Honestly? Any good brewer would tell you “don’t use bags”. To begin. Then there’s the type of tea being drunk. The most common I suppose, is “Breakfast Tea”. Usually a blend. Broken Orange Pekoe … ever popular. My preference is, tea grown in Ceylon. Like coffee, the higher altitude it’s grown at, the better the tea. If you like tea? Then swallow the pride open the pocket book and buy good quality tea.

    Why dump the bags? Because the leaf is ground up fine before being bagged. Yeah, tea leaves are messy. But if you grow roses? Then put them around the base. Use the brown recycling bin if you need but they really are a good item to have in any home compost pile. The bags if you must? Are made from “bleached paper”. Uh huh, it’s hard to find them not in that stuff. So a large tea ball will give you a better cuppa’ and less mess. Dash of milk? So for well those who ask for that. A small stainless steel jug. … You can find them in Indian grocery stores. I bought mine in Wembley. Any small jug will do. Then people can put in their own milk. A cozy helps. Tea does not need boiling but almost boiling to release the oils in the leaf.

    Oh the endless debate around milk in first, or after? I can barely tell the difference.? It’s said, “first”, by fastidious drinkers. Most would not know the difference? I don’t drink that much tea. Maybe one cup/mug a day. First thing done is put on the kettle. No automatic maid for me. The milk cuts the tannin.

    As an aside Mr. Lipton was the first to sell bags. He filled them with the tea dust from around the packing machines. Growing up, bags were an anathema. In Canada it is hard to find loose tea. The only store I know of aside from specialty ones. Is Overwaitea. A pun on Over Weight Tea. So, investment in a couple of tea balls or the spoons with a spring lid, will help.

    That and a timer. Mine’s on my cell phone … mobile. Called Multi-tasker App. Cheers Jamie Holding the Ball https://hirundinedotnet2.wordpress.com/

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    1. Thanks for reading!

      I haven’t quite mastered the art of brewing with loose tea!! I need to invest in a nice infuser or good tea pot with a strainer!

      I always put the milk in after, but can sometimes notice he difference if it’s a bagged tea and gone in first and therefore hasn’t quite Brewed and is a bit grey looking!!

      I’ve actually never seen Lipton tea bags in the uk! Will have to keep an eye out to give hem a try!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Because the milk in tea stops the oils from brewing. That’s why it’s brew, then milk. Pouring from the teapot into a cup with some milk, etc. One of the best things about India is the Chai Wallah, at the side of the street. Then the tea is brewed with cinnamon and milk warmed, sugar and oh so refreshing. Cheers Jamie BTW I don’t have tea with sugar normally.

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  6. Alas, despite the fact the maternal side of the family all came from the UK, the only tea I ever had for decades was from a tea bag usually Lipton. Which is the most common tea in America. Some enjoy that. For me, tea was merely coloured water. After moving to the south of France a friend introduced me to ‘properly brewed’ tea. She buys her loose tea and goes through the steps to produce a lovely cuppa! That being said, like my father’s family, all Swedish, I must confess that I love my COFFEE. I adore it even more once discovering the dark café available in our local cafés.
    When I am with friends who are having tea, I still join in, but my heart just isn’t in it. C’est la vie! There is something for each of us.

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    1. Some people will never be tea fans!! I have to admit I’ve never been a massive coffee fan unless I’m out, then it feels like I’m getting more of my money’s worth to have coffee than tea!!

      We don’t actually have Lipton tea bags here as far as I know, will have to have a look in to that!! I do like loose tea but I’ve never quite perfected the art of straining/infusing so I can end up with a very gritty cuppa!!!

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  7. Ah, as a fellow tea lover, I have to describe my favourite time of the almost every day:

    It’s that brief pause, just a moment, when you have lifted the tea so close to your lips and you pause even when your body is screaming expectantly of that first sip of tea in the morning, but you still pause to take a deep breath of that hot tea-scented air to fully appreciate that first sip.

    Well that’s mine anyway. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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