And that is tea.
Now, some of you might be wondering what on Earth I’m talking about. To most of you, tea is a pompous, weak, foreign version of coffee. Something bitter and watery that leaves a slightly metallic taste in your mouth. Well, Americans, I’m here to tell you: Stop drinking Liptons. It’s like trying to paint an oil painting with Crayola markers and bobby pins. Scratch that, it’s like trying to rebuild the Eiffel Tower with cat urine and nothing else. I might be a little biased, but I do know the Harneys from meeting them personally, and I trust them with my teas. Before them, I imported everything from Britain. Now, I can drive to their location about an hour from myself, test out three or four black or green teas, and leave with something authentic, robust, and genuine.
This is a lovely Pomegranate Oolong tea by them, a recent addition to my collection of Harney Teas. It is a combination of black and green teas that is thin and delicate, yet has a glorious fruity smell reminiscent of Austrian fruit teas. Green teas have been growing ever more popular over the past few years because of their lower caffeine content and exotic style. Long gone are the days when “Tea” sounds exotic. Now “Oolong” is the way to go. What I love about this particular tea is that, when steeped in a sache, the leaves uncurl and spread out, looking like strong green bay leaves in my little cup. The tea is soft and honey-green, perfect by itself without milk or sugar.
But there’s something wonderful about classic black tea too. For those of you who are new to tea-ing, let me give you the run-down of loose leaf teas and how to make yourself a good classic cuppa. First of all, get yourself some sort of tea straining device. Whether that’s a straining pot, like shown above, or a little straining utensil (not shown), that’s okay. Most grocery marts will have at least one choice. Pour boiling water over the loose leaf tea (in the strainer), into a pre-heated cup. Let the leaves steep for 4-5 minutes, untouched, until black teas are mahogany. Remove the strainer and dispose of the tea leaves. Sweeten or add milk. I generally add about 3 tablespoons of milk, until caramel.
If you do make a tea pot, make sure that it’s been warmed. If you don’t, it may grow unsightly cracks over time, which are wholly unpleasant during afternoon tea. If you’re concerned about your tea cooling down too fast, warm your milk as well. It’s a pity, really, that few Americans appreciate the subtleties of tea. I adore opening the pots and cans of tea leaves and smelling them, noticing the baffling differences between a Darjeeling base and a Kenyan one. Nothing can cheer you up on a windy, cold day than a good cup of tea. Nothing, I say!