Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How to make a decent cup of tea in case Kate and William come to call

This is the week when all eyes, especially the media, are on England in anticipation of the royal nuptials. We are inundated with news about who is invited and who will be attending (not me), what they will wear and the wedding menu. Most likely the celebrants will be drinking tea, although coffee could be an option.

Being a born-Brit and raised on tea at an early age, over the years I have bemoaned the lack of a decent cup of tea served in some restaurants. The secret to a good if not at least decent cup of tea is to start with really briskly boiled water. Although this might seem simplistic, in my experience many restaurants can't seem to go beyond luke-warm at best. Coffee does not have to be boiling hot but in order to make a good cuppa as the Brits say, hot water is a must. None-boiled, tepid water is easy to detect by the thin white-ish foam floating on the surface. In fact, a quick glance at the water surface would be advisable before inserting a tea bag into the small tea pots. Frequently at restaurants, a signal to the waiter to replace tepid water for boiling water results in a bewildered look that says, 'lady -hot water is hot water is...' In my opinion and in my experience, tea will not properly steep if water is luke warm. Really. Tea should never be served in a styrofoam cup because it dilutes the flavor and most importantly, it's just not...done. But I digress.

My grandfather who came from Russia, used to drink his boiling-hot tea in a thick glass with a dollup of jam swirling around the bottom. One of my grandmothers also from the old country, used to hold a sugar square between her teeth followed by gulps of tea. Tricky but effective to obtain the full flavor of the tea.

Everyone is getting in on the Kate/William wedding celebrations including tea companies and Twinnings tea, which happens to rate high on my favorite list, has even created a special blend in honor of the occasion. According to the blurb on their site:

"To celebrate the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton the master blenders here at Twinings have developed a wonderful light tea, which is a White Earl Grey Tea with light flavours of Rose Petal.

Best served without milk (although, that's our choice, you are welcome to add a drop of milk according to your taste), this bright, sparkling amber coloured tea is perfect for your Royal Wedding Tea Party."

In other words - a very perfume-y flavor, perhaps not robust but refreshing none-the-less. Good tea as I view it, is like a good wine. Smell-taste-swish and swallow.

This leads one to wonder how many people are having Royal Wedding tea parties. More to the point, at what time would one hold a celebratory tea party, given the time varients around the world, since tea is usually takes place in mid-afternoon. For many people, the wedding ceremony will take place in the middle of the night but any time is a good time to drink tea.

The only thing remaining is the menu for the tea party and whether or not guests would consider attending at 3 a.m. in the morning. Be that as it may, the menu could include finger sandwiches with the crusts cut off of course because - well - don't quite know why but presumably they look better, scones with jam and cream, tarts (I'm partial to lemon tarts), petit fours and of course, a pot of boiling hot tea brewed in a tea pot.

So cut the crusts of the sandwiches, bake some cakes, pull out the best china and invite your nearest and dearest for afternoon or middle-of-the-night tea. Kate and William would be pleased.

For those who really enjoy tea and would like to try their hand at growing their own at home:

1 comment:

Pascale M. said...

I LOVE tea, and I enjoyed reading your article, as usual ! Have a nice tea party !