Tuesday, 22 July 2014
Consideration and the Art of Tea-Making
Tea. Good stuff, tea. Drink of gods, champions and kings, stuff of life, sweetest of the sweet nectars, fuel of genius, cheap for the poor, sophisticated for the rich, warming when you’re cold, cooling when you’re hot, calming when one is fraught, invigorating when one is sluggish, etc etc, and so on and so forth. Like I said, good stuff.
And everyone likes it their own way, be that strong, weak, milky, not milky, whatever. And of course, since that is the way you like it, it stands to reason that it is the best way to have it, and other people only have it their own way because they’ve not tried it in yours. In the excellently titled ‘A Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down’ (a book which, it must be said, spends far too many pages on biscuits, and not nearly enough on tea and sitting down), it is pointed out that this tea arrogance results in people making tea for others in their own way. There may be token queries as to how much milk, and no-one from any kind of civilised society would ever add sugar to another’s tea without asking first, but basically tea is made in the way the maker best sees fit.
At work, I am part of only a small team, consisting of myself and two others, and when we make tea, we make it for the others as well. I should add that normally I am a supreme tea snob, and at home I make it using loose leaves in a proper tea pot, and drink it out of a cup and saucer. However, this would be impractical, not to mention somewhat pretentious-seeming, in an office setting and so I lower my standards and drink tea made with a tea-bag. My main consolation is that I get to use my Spiderman mug; the one with a spider symbol on the side that changes colour when hot liquid is poured into it. It’s the little pleasures that make the day bearable.
All that being as it is, one of my colleagues, when they make tea for the rest of us, makes it quite milky. The other, when they make it, makes it very strong. I tended to make it somewhere in the middle, although possibly slightly stronger than not. However, having read the book named above, and knowing of the phenomenon of ‘tea arrogance’, I have attempted to extrapolate how they like their tea and prepare it accordingly. For the one who makes it milky, I make it milky. For the one who makes it strong, I make it strong. For myself, I make it the way I like it. In this manner, I hope to give them tea that they will enjoy as much as I enjoy mine.
Neither of them has commented on this, I’m not even sure they’ve noticed. Possibly they both assume that they have won me over to their way of doing things, and that now I enjoy milky or strong tea far more than my previous misguided delight in medium-strongish tea. Certainly neither of them has reciprocated and started producing tea in a manner other than that which (I assume) they enjoy, so it seems that I may rather have shot myself in the foot with my own consideration. Or maybe I’m just over thinking the whole thing…
Still, do as you would be done by, bless those who curse you, and make nice tea for those poor benighted souls who haven’t yet realised that the way you like it is just outright better.