Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Probably The Best Thing Orwell Ever Wrote

I’ve been a busy little bee the past few days, hence the lack of blogging. I wish I could report on some exciting adventure or what not but unfortunately it’s just been your average monotony sucking up my time. I like being busy though, no matter what it is I’m occupied with. It makes that cup of tea (or ten) at the end of the day all the more heavenly.

I don’t drink tea when I’m out usually, I stick to the coffee. It continually baffles me the way cafes and restaurants always invest so much in their coffee making facilities yet totally neglect the needs of us poor tea lovers. They seem to think we’ll be grand with a cheap cash and carry teabag in a creeky old pot. I’m telling you now, I’d rather drink dishwater. At least in this part of the world it comes in a pot, I suppose. I remember being in the States some years back and in a fit of desperation I chanced ordering what was billed as ‘hot tea’. What I got was a mug of lukewarm water with a teabag at the side. Sacrilege. I’m sorry to all my American blog buddies- it’s a fine nation you’ve got over there but the art of tea is certainly not one of your strong points!

So why is it so hard to get a good cup of tea? And what can be done about it? Well, I propose the following article be written into law or at least set as essential reading for caterers of the world: ‘A Nice Cup of Tea’ George Orwell, The Evening Standard, January 12 1946. Only ever so slightly outdated, it is a manifesto for the brew loving masses. A guide to the perfect cuppa, if you will. Ah Orwell, I have a new respect for him. He sure knew how to make tea! Here’s just a few of his oh so pertinent points:

"The water should be actually boiling at the moment of impact... Some people add that one should only use water that has been freshly brought to the boil, but I have never noticed that it makes any difference."

"One should pour tea into the cup first. This is one of the most controversial points of all… but I maintain that my own argument is unanswerable. This is that, by putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactly regulate the amount of milk whereas one is liable to put in too much milk if one does it the other way round."

"[Tea] should be drunk without sugar... how can you call yourself a true tea-lover if you destroy the flavour of your tea by putting sugar in it? It would be equally reasonable to put in pepper or salt. Tea is meant to be bitter, just as beer is meant to be bitter. If you sweeten it, you are no longer tasting the tea, you are merely tasting the sugar; you could make a very similar drink by dissolving sugar in plain hot water."
Hear hear Mr Orwell!


JJ Beazley said...

I remember that oh-so-plummy woman saying 'Take the pot to the kettle, not the other way round.' I gather the objection to re-boiling the water is something to do with losing oxygen, which helps to release the taste in the tea. I also read once that the decision as to whether to add milk to the tea or the other way round actually changes the chemical nature of the resultant drink. I take my tea without sugar, too. And we have lots of tea shops in the UK which make good tea. But then we would, wouldn't we?

TheBlakkDuchess said...

Amen to this, and yes, please pity us here in the US, as there are so very, very few places that serve drinkable, let alone good, tea. Sigh... Orwell is my new hero... ^-^

Kathy said...

My bestest friend who is English always is muttering about our "hot tea" here in the states. Me-I plop a teabag in a cup with water and stick it in the microwave. Yes, I really do that. I'm sorry...I'm sorely lacking in tea finesse.

Loved this post!!! - Kathy

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Frances Tyrrell said...

Tap water and a tea bag - yes, that is the regrettable norm in all our restaurants. My father makes a truly perfect cup of tea, warming the pot for a few minutes first then using only freshly boiling water on the tea bags. He always knows when I've made it ("did you make the tea Dear?") because I cut corners on the pot-warming time and it actually makes a small but significant difference.
You put up new posts far more frequently than I, and every post is a gem! Want to drop by and check out my give-away?

Róisín said...

Ah, just what I wanted, a little insight into all your tea drinking habits! Just a couple of notes:

JJ- You have to take the teapot to the kettle otherwise the water won't be boiling when it pours!

Dutchess- If you're ever in Ireland look me up and I'll get my man to make you the best cup of tea in the world!

Kathy- I don't know what to say... I have heard these tales of microwaved tea but thought they were only urban legends ;) But as long as you enjoy isn't that all that matters!

Frances- Your father sounds wonderful. If we hooked him up with my fiance we'd have a fine tea making tag-team. Oh, and I must take a wee run over to your blog now. I haven't been the best blogger lately, I've not been doing the rounds enough.

Well folks, thanks for dropping by!

JJ Beazley said...

Roisin: That's what I said!

Róisín said...

Yes I know JJ but the point is there's nothing plummy about it! The water has to boiling- really boiling. I even know people who put the tea pot on a gas stove after they've added the water just to be safe. In fact, it's generally par for the course in a good country Irish household. You English like to think you know about tea, but our Irish tea would beat up your English tea. At least Orwell understood, maybe you've all just gone soft over the years.

JJ Beazley said...

The English have always been soft, you should know that Roisin. It's why I'm so terrified of you.

'Her eyes flashed with that brand of Gaelic fire that is peculiar to the women of Ireland.'

Oh, yes. I'm a discretion man when it comes to Irish women! God knows what you'd put in my cup of tea, if ever you saw fit to make me one.

Anthropomorphica said...

Definitely freshly drawn water, the oxygen helps it to brew. Orwell would probably hate my milky cuppa but a proper Scottish brew would've put hairs on his chest ;)
Oh, and warm the milk over the pot :)

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