Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Perfectly Practical #55 - Make a Cup of Tea



In honor of our English guest, I thought I would post how to make a cup of tea. 

I always encourage having afternoon tea.  My love affair with afternoon tea started in college after my Momma & I visited England the first time and had tea at Brown's Hotel.  We had asked our guide where he would suggest taking tea and he said that his birthday treat every year was to have tea at Brown's so that's what we did.  I have been thoroughly spoiled ever since.  I could go on for days about music, ambiance, tea, and f-o-o-d.  >Slurp!<  Sorry, that's me sucking up the drool before it reaches the keyboard. 

Then, once we moved to Jolly Olde England (J.O.E.) I regularly took tea at various tea shops.  That's when I learned to check to make sure that the shop uses bags instead of leaves to make the pot before pouring a cup.

While pregnant, I took tea nearly every day at a local cozy tea room so once Diva was born, the ladies in the shop already had a relationship with her - after all, they had been pumping her mother full of tea, egg & cress sandwiches, scones, cream, & jam for months!  They introduced me to how a quintessential English tea room should be, small, dark, cozy, a little cluttered, and full of traditional English favorite foods.  In turn, I got to introduce the ladies of that shop to the joys of imported Hershey's chocolate syrup and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

For our anniversary one year, Engineer and I went to Bath and had tea at The Pump Room.  Again, exquisite.

Diva and I made it our Marvelous Monday tradition after she had started school, to go to the library then have tea next door at Marks & Spencer's before heading down to piano lessons.  This was a precious tradition and one I have mourned since moving here.

When we would have visitors from the States, we used to take them the Harrod's for tea in The Georgian Restaurant while in London.

There was a tea room not far from our house that I loved to frequent.  I met friends out there many times for afternoon tea.  It was sort of like a job well done, pat on the back sort of thing for my singing partner and I before or after a gig.

Tea and cake at the seaside town of Sidmouth for tea at The Clocktower Cafe was my incentive for walking up the insanely steep hill at Jacob's Ladder.  After Sunday lunch, we would get together with friends, load up the dogs and kids and all drive down to the south coast where we would park in the town which was down the hill and quite a ways from the tea room.  We would walk along the sea on the pebbled beaches, play fetch with the dogs, Trevor would bark at the crashing waves (he's not the sharpest tool in the shed), and we would take a mammoth hike up a treacherous flight of stairs or up the insanely steep hill.  Seriously, you would have to angle your body at 45 degrees in order to make it up the hill.  One time, Truffles decided to uh hem, do her business on the hill and as she was going, her poo was rolling down the hill and I was running after it, plastic bag in hand to clean it up.  My Mother-in-Law was there for that spectacle.  Nice.  Hard to be a lady you know when you are running down a hill after rolling poop.  Especially when you both are gaining momentum...I digress.

So many memories about tea, tea rooms, and dogs and their bathroom issues that I almost forgot what my perfectly practical tip was for the day.  Oh yes, how to make a cup of tea.

Firstly, gather your tools:  tea pot, tea kettle, spare hot water pitcher, cup, saucer, tea spoon, milk, and sugar (tea plates and delicious scones are optional but recommended.)

Boil your water in your tea kettle. 
Once it has boiled, pour the water into your tea pot to heat it up.
Boil another pot of water in your tea kettle while your pot is heating up.
Once the water has boiled, take it off the heat. 
Pour out the water in your tea pot and put in 1 tsp. of loose tea per cup plus 1 tsp. of tea for the pot (or use a teabag per cup.)
Pour the freshly boiled water over the leaves or bags and let steep for about three minutes. 
Boil another kettle of water.
Stir the tea in the pot.
Strain your tea with a tea strainer as you pour it into your cup to catch the leaves.
Serve with milk and white sugar.   
Once the last kettle of water has boiled, pour it into a hot water pitcher and leave it on the tea tray until needed.
The hot water is there for you to top of your tea pot or to weaken the tea in your cup.

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