1/5 Of The Perfect BreakfastThursday, February 01, 2007
Since I can remember I have enjoyed tea. By tea I mean the stuff that Yankee Clipper ships carried while braving storms around Cape Horn, racing to get it home first from the Orient, to fetch the best price. I mean the kind that comes from fermented leaves of Camellia sinensis . I am very subjective about tea. I think Japanese maccha (matcha) is glorified swamp water, no matter how many oxidants it may have. I will drink Japanese tea, so similar to celery broth, only with Japanese food. I love the taste of tea sweetened with a sweetener (white sugar) that does not add any taste. And, like Dr. Samuel Johnson I put enough milk (very little) to allay the bite of the tannin. My tea has to be the colour of Coke so I use two heaping spoonfulls in the teaball seen here which I steep for at least 5 minutes in my Ken Edwards mug from Tonalá, Mexico.
In Argentina I tolerated the excellent Taragüí that is grown in Corrientes province. In our years in Mexico (the importation of tea was prohibited) we treasured and re-used smuggled American Lipton Tea bags. The worst tea I ever had was at the fashionable Kinneret Café at the Zona Rosa. I asked for a té con leche . I was served a cup of boiling milk with a tea bag. When we moved to Vancouver I swore I would always drink the best tea.
I purchase my favourite tea (with the exception of the wonderfully strong Taylors of Harrogate Yorkshire Gold at the Gourmet Warehouse) at the Granville Island Tea Company. They sell the perfect, strongest and most fragrant Earl Grey. If you look closely at the above image you will note the blue filaments and flower buds. Since I am supposed to know so much about tea I have been ashamed to ask them what they are! Their Organic Assam and their Rwanda Rukeri are equally strong.
On my two visits to London what I missed most about Vancouver was a decent cup of tea. Unless a hotel used bottled water (they didn't) London tea is made with some swill the English call water. Their tea is terrible. But it was in London where I purchased one pound of Saint James Fannings for £85. I nursed that tea for six months back in Vancouver and this was the most complicated, interesting and flavourful tea I have ever had. In the best book about tea ( alas! a French book called The Book of Tea) this is what it says of Saint James Fannings:
Betjeman And Barton
23 Boulevard Malesherbes
This shop is regularly visited by tea lovers. Every day, a cup of one of the hundred and twenty teas stored in either red or green canisters is offered to customers - with any luck you may drop in on a day when a Saint James Fannings or a Castleton G.E.O.P. second flush is being brewed.
But tea is only 1/5 of my perfect breakfast. For 12 years Rosemary (2/5) and I have had our breakfast in bed (3/5) every day of the week. In leaner times we used to celebrate Sundays with bacon. But that is no more. Our perfect breakfast is her coffee, my tea, her toast with honey, my (two) Venice Bakery Brown & Serve Original Scissors (4/5), and a copy of our daily delivered New York Times (5/5).
Modern technology has changed the routine a bit. Since I read the Sunday New York Times at 10pm on Saturday, when it is delivered, Sunday is back to 4/5 perfection. It becomes 3/5 when our grandaughters have a sleepover (four for breakfast in bed was much too messy). But sitting at the table on Sunday with Lauren and Rebecca is 4/5 again and with the thin homemade pancakes it's a perfect breakfast again! Unsalted cultured butter and confectionary sugar on pancakes accompanied by an Earl Grey is as perfect as perfect is.
Granville Island Routine