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The Indecipherable International Language
fact that “foreigners” seem to get it so badly wrong as regards tea is
something which I still have yet to come to terms with.
The lunacy astounds me. No matter where you go, the locals are only too
happy to enthusiastically exhibit the true extent of their ignorance to the
art of tea making. This seems to be the case wherever I go. Order a “cha” in
a Portuguese cafe, and what you find you will invariably get is a tall glass
of boiling hot water with an accompanying encasement of assorted tea bags
packed individually in their own little packets. The milk that you requested
to the baffled waitress will be
delivered to your table unwittingly hot so as to give you a shock when you
shape to pick up the jug.
Mind you, the USA almost managed to get it right. A jaunt into the local
supermarket yielded a successful scavenge of
Tetley’s tea (“Look! They have Tetley’s here!”). It turned out to
only be superficially similar. Upon getting the box home and eagerly prising
open the box, I found, again, that each bag was individually wrapped. Even
though they would have been fine loose in the protective box they came in.
Perhaps US teabags are individualists, like their
Appallingly, the Tetley’s tea bags were stapled to their individual packets,
with a small piece of string dangling forlornly down, designed no doubt to
assist you in retrieving the bag once its been brewing for a sufficient
time. Of course, I always found this unnecessarily elaborate staple-string
configuration far more easy to use that, err, a spoon.
Oh, and don’t order tea in a “caw fee” shop
there either unless you’re happy to drink tea with
“creamer” (whatever the hell that is).
The old Indian legend of the first ever cup of tea is fitting. Unwittingly
discovered when a cow was sick after eating too
many tealeaves, most countries have continued on the grotesque
route of tea-making depravity ever since. The tradition remains alive and
well to this day judging by my experiences.
To sum up, this is what foreigners seem to think are integral components to
the tea experience:
Ultimate respect for each individual bag to the point of sheathing each one
in individual packets or, in the case of cafes, a convoluted presentation
2. Don’t put milk in it, but a piece of lemon is perfectly ok.
3. Serve the tea bag separately with accompanying boiling water so
you have to sit for half an hour waiting patiently for the glass handle (its
never a mug) to cool down.
It’s not about how it looks, it’s about how it tastes. Maybe the tealeaves
don’t grow in Britain but it’s clear that aside from actually having the
stuff grow in their territories (see the above Kenyan tea plantation),
foreigners are otherwise completely clueless, despite their obvious best