Life Chez Dee Episode #17: Tea
Those who know me, know how much I love tea … I’m a tea drinker through and through … yes, I’ve been known to order the occasional latte, or occasional mocha, but my go to drink is tea.
Ask my kids, when everyone is there on a hot day with their cold drinks or fizzy drinks, full of ice cubes …. no thanks, not for me, I’ll have a brew. Picnics, and even days out without picnics, there will always be a small flask of tea in my rucksack … I don’t want a drink of water, or squash or carton of juice … a cuppa will do nicely thank you. Of course, if there’s a tea shop in the vicinity or on the horizon, a refreshment stop is almost always on the agenda; but in case of emergencies, or in case of extra liquid refreshment being required, I have tea supplies with me.
To be honest I’m not a lover of cold drinks … well not ice cold anyway, maybe I’m just too cold blooded, but I never really crave a cold drink. Even when I have my glasses of water throughout the day, the water won’t be chilled, or be full of ice cubes, nor will it even be straight from the tap … no, mine will be the one at room temp; my filled glass, left on the side, ready to drink. You will rarely see me with a fizzy drink either. Yes I’ve been known to order a coke if we’ve gone out for a meal and I’ve drawn the short straw to drive, but other than that no … and never a can, always a bottle if they have them. The cans make the drink too fizzy! Yes everyone in our house knows mum doesn’t like fizzy drinks …. I’m even left with the flat end of the bottle of fizzy water to finish, as no one else wants this!
I digress. Back to tea.
Milky tea. Milky tea is how I like it. It’s even become a hashtag in its own right #milkyteaforLiz #buyLizamilkytea. Word is getting round, I’m infamous with my great lug of milk in my brew. I never get enough milk in cafes … always having to ask for a larger jug, or having to keep going back to ask for more. I say to those offering me a brew “no sugar, loads of milk; whatever you think is a lot of milk, put some more in!” This isn’t to be confused with those who think I like my tea as if it’s been threatened with a teabag, no, I don’t like weak and insipid tea. I like the flavour of tea, I just like loads of milk in it. And blue milk for me please. None of that red stuff which tastes like water. Actually it doesn’t taste like anything, it just is like water. None of that green top milk, which is pumped full of hormones. Blue organic milk for me every time. Full of goodness, organic and hormone free, and full of taste.
I’m a fusspot too. I like it just so. Certain mugs definitely make the tea taste better, and I have my favourites. I like a margin at the top of the mug, I really don’t like it filled to the brim. No reason, I just know what I like. I know when Justin has made a brew and filled it too full, and poured some out. It tastes different. You, may well laugh … J does … but it does affect the flavour …. I can tell! And I don’t like tea which is too hot! Yes, I know it’s a hot drink, and hot drinks are meant to be hot, but I don’t like tea that’s too hot. Justin makes my tea too hot. “How can it be too hot he says? Water boils at 100 degrees.” I honestly don’t know the answer; I don’t know if I let my tea brew longer, and therefore it cools slightly; maybe he stirs the teabag round a bit more and whips it out quicker; or is it because I put more milk in than he does? And then the brews sit for a while after they’ve been made, forgotten about for a while, I’m easily distracted by other jobs and tasks to get on with. William gets ready to whip it away saying it’s gone cold … no, I say, as I then finish my lukewarm drink, whilst the others look on with disdain. They’ll both tell you the how fussy I am, I leave many a brew made for me by Justin, and have even been known to throw them away, I’ve even been known to throw away some that I’ve made for myself.
I loved the tea my Grandma made, it was by far the best I’d ever tasted. Something to do with the teapot, and the tea she used, and probably as it was made with love. She had a metal teapot … and there are many tea aficionados who will argue that tea tastes better in a metal teapot. I don’t know. All I do know is that my Grandma made the best tea ever, and she could fix everything. I spent hours chatting with her, and always went to sit with her when I had a problem of any sort, and she’d make it all better with tea and toast.
I remember spending week after week, endlessly searching for a teapot which I liked. I didn’t want a tall thin one, or one too fat, or one with too short a spout, or too fat a spout. Checking to see if they were likely to drip, what the lid looked like, what the pattern looked like. Searching, searching. Eventually, I found my favourite when mooching around Bath one weekend. I still have this teapot today, a lovely cream coloured one with a wash of pale blue on the bottom half, and a picture of a black olive on the side. It is still used, and still loved.
I have a teapot which was given to us as a wedding present. It was bought to go with the Denby set of crockery which we also had for our wedding. I think we’ve used it on about two occasions, and it sits on a top shelf of our welsh dresser, gathering dust and taking up space, and it really needs to go.
So as I’m a fusspot with my tea at home, imagine what I’m like when we’re out and about in teashops and cafes. Yep, guessed right, I’m even more of a fusspot.
For a start I can’t stand metal teapots that drip. I hate little packets of sugar in little metal bowls on the table. I don’t like tiny, tiny pots that do about one cup and no more. I like a big pot, extra water, and nice mugs, or even better nice vintage cups and saucers; and a bowl of sugar or pressed sugar.
I like sugar in my tea. My dad told me that he’d given up sugar and doesn’t miss it any more. “Once you give up sugar, you’ll never go back to it” he says. Wrong. I’ve given up sugar in my tea … due to the fact that I drink copious amounts of tea throughout the day … gallons of the stuff … so cutting out the sugar is a pretty good thing really. I dread to think how many spoonfuls I’d be having otherwise. But give me a drink with sugar in it, and I love it; it’s like nectar. I like brown sugar. I love the taste of brown sugar. So when I have a brew I’ll go for the brown by choice. And at this point you’re saying, I thought you’d given it up/ Well yes and no. Yes I have given it up predominantly, and certainly at home, but when I’m out and about in a café, paying for a cup of tea, I really want to enjoy it fully, and the only way I can is by putting a bit of sugar in it. Therefore I suppose you could say I’m part time sugar free. You’re also probably going to point out that it really ought to be white sugar in tea, and brown in coffee. I don’t care about that … I’m going for the flavour I prefer, so there!
Most cafes I’ve been in can’t make tea. Or not to my liking anyway. I’m not going to name names of who’s tea I don’t like, but I am going to give a big shout out to those cafes, who in my opinion get it perfect for me, and who are also very lovely and chatty people, and whose friendliness obviously improves the flavour of the tea! Xx The Blackbird Café, have lovely loose leaf English Breakfast Tea – a little individual pot, lovely little vintage tea cups and saucers, and always a little biscuit placed on your saucer to have with your drink, and for me plenty of milk in a pretty jug. Other local cafes who just get the tea perfect are Quirky Tea Rooms and Alice’s Tearooms. And whilst I’m doing a big shout out to tearooms, I need to mention Teacup Tearoom in Mevagissey, Cornwall which I think is the loveliest tearoom I have ever been in, with the loveliest people running it, and who I will be visiting each and every time I am in that neck of the woods. There are lots of others, but I think Liverpool World Museum is right up there too, with their pots of the big loose leaf tea; that really high quality tea with the enormous leaves, and which really tastes like TEA.
If I’ve not mentioned your café, and you know I’m a regular, you’ll probably notice that I’ll drink coffee more than tea in your establishment … either because I love the way you make a coffee (yes I’m a fusspot with that too, and yes it also always has to be milky), or I’m not keen on your tea, and I’d rather have a coffee with you, as I still love to visit.
Maybe it was the way I was brought up on tea – I know my grandma gave me tea from a very early age, and I know she was the one who got me hooked on sugary tea (mum and dad never put sugar in it for me) albeit white sugar and not the brown I go for now – but I still believe today that you can fix things with a brew. Hot, have a refreshing cuppa; cold, warm yourself with a brew; tired, a tea will pick you up; upset or in shock, hot sweet tea does the trick; or just to be sociable and get the kettle on whilst you have a natter. Tea is something I’d really struggle to live without, and on that note I’m going to finish, I’m in need of a cuppa.