The Secret Life of Melanie O.
Sunday, March 26, 2006
I once asked a group of people how they like their tea. I got nearly as many differing responses as there were people who responded to the question.

Some had a "magic formula" for tea, taken from a group of English university professors, who had calculated the exact water temperature, the weight of the tea leaves per cup, and how long to steep it. Tea must be made scientifically for it to be right. The milk must be in the cup before the tea is poured, and should be room temperature.

Others, like myself, preferred a much stronger "wake you up in the morning" type of brew, complete with cream and sugar, much like coffee, but without the nasty coffee breath that ensues.

Some preferred smoky-tasting teas like Lapsang souchong. Some preferred a sweeter, jammier tea like Assam. Some liked green tea and some preferred herbal infusions. But no doubt about it, men and women alike like tea. Even Captain Pickard of the USS Enterprise liked his Earl Grey, hot. Maybe it was the bergamot that made him so damned sexy. The captain of the Titanic was stirring his black tea with a thin slice of lemon just before they hit the iceberg, if the movies are to be believed. Entire cultures have developed elaborate ceremonies for brewing and serving tea. According to common folklore, the American Revolution started over a disagreement on the taxation of tea.

Tea is like fertilizer for the soul. In fact, in the US South, where Soul reigns supreme, sweet tea is an icon. No restaurant worth its salt would even think about not having lots of fresh-brewed cold sweet tea available. I miss that, being in Australia, where they know how to make hot tea the English way, but haven't figured out that iced sweet tea is a hundred times better than canned fizzy softdrinks. Nowhere can I find good ol' southern style iced sweet tea. If you want it, you have to buy cold bottled tea, which doesn't even taste remotely like tea. It tastes like sweet peach or lemon water.

I recall Eric Idle's Beatles parody: The Rutles, and Dirk McQuigley confessed that he had had tea. Lots of tea. And biscuits. Tea taking was linked to the Rutles' psychedelic phase of musicianship. And as I sit here, in front of my computer, drinking my very strong hot tea with cream and sugar, I can almost hear the angels singing. Either that or it's the caffeine buzz.

Dan always asks me if I want a cup of tea when he goes to fix himself one. I have come to the conclusion that this is a sign of a great husband. Some people's marriages are held together by their kids or their religions - ours is held together by tea. And biscuits.
posted by Melanie O. at 6:32 PM -
  • At 6:38 AM, Blogger chimera said…

    My partner does the same thing - and since he's English we drink an awful lot of tea ! I never used to like tea with milk until I met him. (of course I still think the best thing about English tea is having scones and cream and jam to go with it...)

  • At 1:55 PM, Anonymous Donald said…

    Thanks Melanie!

    You reminded me to make some Iced Tea. Spring is here in St. Louis and nothing is more thirst quenching than Iced Tea! It's probably better for my heart too!

  • At 11:50 PM, Blogger gardenbug said…

    I used to love Oley's iced tea. She had a Pyrex tea pot that could go directly on the stove. Water was brought to a boil...teapot removed from the stove and tea bags put into the hot water. It steep until the color was right. Tea bags removed. It was then put in a pitcher and chilled in the refrigerator....or she poured the hot tea over ice cubes in a glass. She broke some glasses, too.
    Another favorite is sun tea. A large glass jar is filled with water and tea bags. It sits in the sun all day while the family is away. When family returns, the tea bags are removed and the jar goes into the refrigerator to cool. Sun tea comes out without cloudiness. It requires no enhansements...sugar or lemon not needed. I think I'll stop typing and get a cup of tea.

  • At 9:08 AM, Blogger LivinginOz said…

    Don and Mom - you've made me even more homesick for iced tea! I'm going to have to go home today and brew some and stick it in our fridge. The problem with our little Aussie fridge is that it's not big enough for a large pitcher of anything. But I suppose small batches are better than nothing. I just have to figure out a way to beat Dan to it, because he loves it just as much as I do and if I'm not fast enough, it'll be gone before I know it!

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About Me
Name: Melanie O.
Home: Durham, North Carolina, United States
About Me: Female, American health and beauty-conscious professional who has rekindled a childhood love of dolls.
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