A Nice Cup Of TeaMonday, May 27, 2013
The Book of Tea
Artistic Direction Marc Walter
Translated by Deke Dusinberre
Preface by Anthony Burgess
...Before I go further, it would be in order for me to state here how precisely tea ought to be prepared. First you must have a capacious teapot. Then you must have a kettle. Boil your water and at the same time heat your teapot. It is unwise to heat it by swilling warm water around in it: it will be difficult to swill all of this out, and thus the inside of the teapot will be wet. It must be perfectly dry. Place the teapot in an inch or so of very hot water; when its external bottom is hot enough to make the hand uncomfortable, its internal bottom is hot enough for tea. Place into the warmed pot, according to the tradition, one teaspoonful for each drinker and an extra teaspoonful as a gift for the pot. You may, of course, increase these doses according to taste or, more accurately to habituation. I substitute a dessert spoon for a teaspoon. Pour on boiling water from the kettle. Stir the infusion gently. Place the lid on the pot and leave it for five minutes. Then pour into cup or mug.
If you take milk with your tea – no more than a minute amount to soften the impact of the tannin content – you must decide which faction to belong to – the one that puts the milk into the cup before pouring the tea, or the school that drips milk in while the tea lies black and steaming. I do not think it makes very much difference: it is one of these very British controversies which keep off the tedium vitae. You may then add sugar, but this is frowned upon by many tea-drinking experts. The late George Orwell was one of these. He published an essay, rather less well-known that his Nineteen Eighty-Four (one of the horrors of which seems to be a total abstinence of tea, though not gin), whose title is “A Nice Cup of Tea.” In it he says that the addition of sugar kills the taste of the tea. He says that the older one grows the stronger one prefers one’s tea. One of the few qualities he found in Britain’s wartime Ministry of Food was its willingness to grant a larger ration of tea to citizens over 65 (60 if they were women) than the younger and unseasoned...