On, In, and Around Mondays: How to Make the Perfect Cup of Tea
Start with a morning. Any morning will do.
Mine is cold.
I look out the window, see oak and maple leftovers strewn across dead grass. Two dark brown leaves, shriveled, hang from bent stalks in the rock garden. In summer, these were the orange tropical plants, with flowers that looked like pearly goldfish, mouths open to blue skies.
Where have they gone to now? What seeds, like silken-coated ambassadors, might be ushering them through darkness to find Spring on the other side?
Inside, I turn to the task at hand. Making the perfect cup of tea.
It is said that the Japanese emperors used special water for tea. I can't remember exactly what kind of water it was. Maybe something about dew gathered from cherry blossoms or water melted from snow, but I could be making this up.
My water comes from the tap. It will have to do. It's important to use this water only once. Reboiling reduces the oxygen content, makes the tea less tasty. And besides, I like the idea of drinking air with my favorite teas.
I used to think that all teas were created equal. Not so. Loose tea is far more flavorful. The larger the leaves, the greater the quality. (In general.) Even though I grew up as a Lipton teabag girl, I'll probably never go back. Not since the Creme Earl Grey from Kathleen's. Not since the French Bagatelle and Christmas teas, ushered through time zones for my sake. (Then there is Mariage Freres Wedding Imperial, which leans towards the flavor of coffee with its caramel and chocolate undertones.)
Here is a list of what to do with beautiful tea...
1. Put hot water in the steeping container, while waiting for the water to boil. Measure out 1 teaspoon of tea leaves and set aside in the steeping basket.
2. Is the tea black? Bring the water to a rolling boil. Pour it over the leaves immediately. Steep for 5 minutes.
3. Keep the tea steeper cozy. Tea likes to stay warm through the whole process. That's why you gave it a head start by warming the container first. That's why you'll want to wrap it up. I use a towel. Not fancy, but it does the job.
4. Is the tea green, or herbal? Catch the water before it reaches a full boil. Pour. Cozy. 3 minutes. You're working with a more tender situation here.
Letting the tea steep too long makes it bitter. You won't do this though. You'll set a timer, gaze out the window for five minutes, or three. You'll get the cream from the fridge, think of orange tropical flowers, or Christmas which only comes in the season of dead leaves. And thinking of leaves, you will turn back to your tea, its leaves yielding to water, to the morning.
On, In and Around Mondays (which partly means you can post any day and still add a link) is an invitation to write from where you are. Tell us what is on, in, around (over, under, near, by...) you. Feel free to write any which way... compose a tight poem or just ramble for a few paragraphs. But we should feel a sense of place. Would you like to try? Write something 'in place' and add your link below.
If you could kindly link back here when you post, it will create a central meeting place. :)