There it is in black and white in the middle of an ex-line manager’s description of me on a well-known professional networking site. And of course if it’s on the internet then it must be true. I am, officially, a “tea snob”.
In my defence I would argue that it is all relative. I drink bog standard builders’ brew and not lapsang souchong (well, not often). My reputation as a tea snob arises from my refusal to drink the stuff that masquerades as tea in most vending machines in the corporate world. After many years working in various large companies, I have developed a sliding scale of drinkability for machine tea. From the “will drink it reluctantly in a moment of weakness but then whinge about it for an hour” to “I would rather drink my own urine or die of dehydration before letting that pass my lips”.
In this latter category comes the “instant” white tea made from some sort of artificially flavoured powder. Whatever alternate universe exists in which this passes for tea is beyond my imagining. Probably the same one in which carob is an acceptable substitute to chocolate.
Marginally less offensive is the instant black tea to which you add UHT milk from tiny plastic containers. However, you do run the risk of opening a damaged carton to find that you have inadvertently poured cottage cheese into your brew instead of milk. Nice.
Occasionally you will come across a vending machine which proudly dispenses one of the famous branded teas and you may be tempted to try it. Don’t. It will still taste like the sweepings from the factory floor. There is no substitute for making your own brew.
Real teabags, a hot water dispenser and a fridge to store your fresh milk. Best of all, water dispensed that is actually hot enough to brew tea and not just raise the ambient temperature of your mug to “warm”. If your office water dispenser is hot enough to scald you then you’re on to a winner and know that you have secured employment with a company that really cares about its staff. Heaven forbid that you do have a water dispenser related accident but at least then a friendly colleague would be able to comfort and calm you with a decent cup of hot, sweet tea which is, as everyone knows, the panacea for all ills.
My love of tea began in early childhood. Playing with my toy tea set in my den, underneath the dining table, I would copy the tea-making ritual I had watched my beloved granddad perform every day, but with cold milk and water instead. One day, desperate to make real tea in my own teapot, I subjected my granddad to the full force of my charms (knowing full well that he could rarely resist me) and begged him for tea leaves and hot water for the pot. There was a great pause while he weighed up the potential waste, mess and risk of scalding. Eventually he suggested a compromise whereby he would decant some of his already whitened, sweetened and cooled tea from his cup into my toy teapot. I readily agreed and with great excitement poured out three or four tiny cups of the amber nectar for my dollies. Surprisingly they wouldn’t drink it, so I downed the lot. Thus began the habit of a lifetime.
I have long since given up sugar and switched to semi-skimmed milk but my love of tea is undiminished and I drink it by the gallon, provided it’s the real McCoy and not some vending machine sludge. Does this make me a “tea snob”? Perhaps. Writing about it has certainly made me thirsty though…time to put the kettle on methinks.
I am addicted to good tea. I too cannot bear to drink that awful machine liquids that is passed off as tea!
A woman after my own heart 😉
I have developed several tea making routines to get the most out of the leaves. I feel like a a potions master at hogwarts!
Lian – you have arrived! Your first spam comment.
Ha ha! I did think it was slightly “non-specific”. Thanks for the heads up Dave – have removed it.
Tea! We used to keep a box of the stuff in the house. I don’t know who we were expecting – piano shifting monkeys, flat-capped cartoon characters, maybe the cast of EastEnders. They never came. Even that mysterious packet of Angel Delight managed to make it out of the cupboard first.
Do you knit your own cozies?
“Probably the same one in which carob is an acceptable substitute to chocolate.” You have no idea how often I have thought of carob as a crappy alternative to the magic of chocolate. Seriously, your writing is incredible. I so enjoyed this.
Unfortunately, tea makes me pee like a racehorse, but I can appreciate your discerning palate. But the ability to so smoothly describe it in words is an art form unto itself. Well done.
Thank you so much Dennis, I really appreciate your comments. Being very new to this I’m finding it all a teensy bit daunting but I’m just enjoying the process of getting the words out of my head and onto the page. It is very encouraging to receive feedback. I came across your own page just now whilst perusing Freshly Pressed and the style of your prose really appealed to me so I’ll “follow” once I’ve finished messing around with my widgets! Thanks again.