Lord luv a duck! I’m dying for a cuppa!
All these teapots are mine!
Last week London suffered a terror attack. As with the other terror attacks across the globe; those by ISIS and the homegrown kind so common in the USA, I feel angry and helpless.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said that the threat of terror attacks are “part and parcel of living in a big city.” He said this back in September, but it was requoted for this most recent attack. Some people found it upsetting. It’s nice to pretend that such things are one-offs, but he is correct. It made me think of a story my father told me.
My parents grew up in the south of England during WWII. Toward the end of the war Germany was sending over 100 V1 bombs across the Channel every day! The V1s were unmanned flying bombs, also known as Doodlebugs (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V-1_flying_bomb). My father said that when you heard one, they had a distinctive engine noise, you stopped whatever you were doing and listened for the engine to cut out. If it was still coming towards you when this happened, it was terrifying. The engine cutting out meant it was time for the bomb to land and blow up. If it was directly overhead, it was better but still, might “land” nearby. If it didn’t cut out you started to breathe again and got on with your day. These terrifying events were part of living in the south of England. No one was expected to like them or ignore them; You got on with what you were supposed to be doing whether that was going to school or delivering milk, so the system kept going and supporting the individuals whose job to was to deal with bombs or terrorists. The same goes for now.
I found this meme that looks like a transport service announcement. It may not be real but it went viral and it got it exactly right!
To honor the dead, wounded and all the good people drinking tea and carrying on I am sharing how to make a proper cup of tea.
The ritual of tea is fascinating. Everything stops for tea.
“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated the the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” – Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady
I was taught to make tea by my grandfather.
He was a coppersmith and during the war, he had to be discharged from the army because he was needed by the Royal Navy and RAF as well as the army to do coppersmithing. Once you are an army coppersmith you aren’t allowed to work for the other arms of the military. They had to make him a civilian consultant and transported him all over the place. He took a good cup of tea very seriously.
Step 1. Fill the kettle with cold water. Cold water has more Oxygen dissolved in it and will make better tasting tea.
Step 2. Scald the pot. Fill the pot with hot water. By preheating the pot you keep the water you pour over the tea leaves closer to 100C longer. This is important for black tea because black tea is fermented and rolled and requires the high heat to unfurl and release maximum flavor.
Step 3. Catch the kettle BEFORE it comes to a complete boil. It takes practice but you can catch the water as it approaches a full boil. According to Grandpa Reg, the water loses flavor when it reaches a full boil. I wasn’t sure about this but he had been making tea for a lot longer than me and the British take their tea very seriously. A few years ago I watched the movie Red Cliff (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0425637/). It is about China during the Three Kingdoms period. The beautiful wife of the hero is an expert in the making of tea. It’s what high-class Chinese ladies did in those days. She describes the stages of boiling that the water goes through and which stage is correct for making tea properly. When the water reached a full rolling boil she was clear that it was no longer ideal for tea. So I stand over the kettle and listen.
Step 4. Empty the hot water from the pot and put in the tea. The amount or number of bags depends on the size of the pot and the preferred strength. Grandpa Reg used loose tea: PG Tips. Loose tea requires a tea strainer. It also stained the cups something fierce. In North America, good loose tea is tough to find so we settle for Tetley Teabags which make a strong, tasty, cuppa.
Step 5. Pour the water over the teabags
Step 6. Place a tea cozy over the pot to maintain maximum heat.
Step 7. Wait for 5 – 10 minutes. Any longer and you have stewed tea, Yuck.
Step 8. Add milk to cups. There is a debate here. Some add milk second, others add both at the same time. (rumors are that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth subscribes to this method) In my house, we do milk first. My father claimed he could tell if the milk was added second. Adding milk to the hot tea may scald the milk whereas adding hot tea to milk gradually heats the milk without scalding it. I think my dad is a big princess sometimes and should be happy when someone makes him a cup of tea.
Step 9. Pour the tea. Offer sweetener and a biscuit if desired.
Do enjoy your tea!