The Epic Tea Saga

I learned two very important things yesterday, both of which were related to the making of hot tea. It is not every day that one acquires so much knowledge on such a subject.

The first thing I learned is that I cannot make a cup of tea to save my life.

Many of my friends have attributed this lack of ability to my inherent American-ness, and of that I guess I should take pride. Unlike our former colonial masters – the tea-drinking surrender monkeys commonly known as the British – we Americans are not big into drinking tea. In fact, we dislike the leafy beverage so much that ancient Bostonians hurled many tons of it into the ocean when Britain tried to foist their “pinky out” ways upon them. But I digress.

Against my best American judgement, yesterday morning I decided that I wanted a cup of hot tea with my breakfast (mostly for lack of coffee). I went to the pantry and found a box of Lipton Green Tea, accented with Orange, Passion Fruit, and Jasmine. Fruity though it may have been, my desire for tea had to be quenched, and so I grabbed a tea bag from the box, heated up some water, and attempted to make my cup of tea.

Attempt #1 proved most unsuccessful. I might as well have been drinking hot water for all the flavor the tea bag added. I knew something must be amiss, so I did the only logical thing: I turned to Facebook for help.

This is when I learned the second thing about tea: people are effing serious about their tea!

The response I got was phenomenal… and perhaps a bit frightening. I received a lot of suggestions for what I might be doing wrong / how I could improve.

  • I don’t actually own a tea kettle, so I was heating up my water in the microwave. This is, apparently, a big problem. I’ll have to ask for one for Christmas.
  • I wasn’t “steeping” the tea long enough. Now mind you, I had never heard the term “steep” used in that context before in my life. I’m told it roughly translates to American English as “the amount of time you leave the tea bag in the hot water.”
  • I need to ditch the bagged tea I start buying expensive loose-leaf tea. There’s also something called a “tea ball,” which acts as the bag for this highbrow tea.

There were other suggestions, but I’m just waiting for someone to suggest growing my own tea leaves. I’m sure that’s the best way to go.

After three more attempts, I finally was able to brew a decent cup of tea… or at least, I think it was decent. My green tea was actually green this morning, so I assume that’s a good sign. Regardless, I learned a lot yesterday: about tea, about my friends, and about why I go to Starbucks when I want a hot tea-based beverage.