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||About thirty years ago when I lived in Germany I was puzzled to discover that THEY DID NOT HAVE KETTLES. This may have been a result of continuing postwar austerity, for what they did have were electric kettle elements of varying lengths (called Tauchsieder - diving boilers) which you plunged into specially shaped tall narrow metal pots. Someone must have realised the intense danger, as well as the energy-wastefulness, of this as they have now been largely superseded by real kettles - indeed many kettles are now made in Germany or by German firms, another example of a fine British idea that we failed to develop properly. However you can still buy Tauchsieder in Switerland. I was shown a selection in the electrical store in Altdorf only a fortnight ago, although I did not purchase one. There was a British equivalent, known as the Travel Boiler, made (probably abroad) by Pifco. Ours (actually my wife's) has travelled faithfully to many continents, but died in Italy, which perhaps explains why I was prowling around the electrical store in a small but very clean Swiss village.|
Since I mentioned Switzerland, Lake Lucerne still has a fleet of early twentieth century paddle steamers (www.lakelucerne.ch). My gradually failing memory insists that these are powered by magnificent Sulzer compound engines, the workings of which can be viewed from a special platform at the centre of the ship, and which were designed with an integral tea boiler. It would be my contention that these can lay claim to be the world's most impressive kettles, although the tea-boilers are no longer used for this (or any other) purpose. I last travelled on one of these steamers over ten years ago - maybe one of your Swiss readers could offer an update on this?
Nice book - recommend for Christmas presents.
|Nicey replies: I had a Czech friend who had one of those travel boilers, which he would reheat tea with. This always made my head spin as I tried to figure out exactly which aspect of this was the most life threatening, death by electrocution, fire, exploding shards of mug, or just really awful putrid tea.
Terrific to hear about the fleet of giant floating kettles, I wonder if they have some kind of toaster facility built in as well. You could steam around Switzerland drinking tea and eating crumpets. I want to go every like that from now on, perhaps we can modify our diesel Peugeot 306 to do this.
||Hello, Nicey and Wifey -- I thoroughly enjoy NCOTAASD....|
It seems as though you are convinced that all Americans are backward and uncivilised -- and most of them are.
BUT...I own a Bodum kettle that lives on top of my filing cabinet at work, just big enough to boil two mugs of water (the water out of the coffee machine downstairs isn't hot enough to *bathe* in, much less brew a nice cup of tea for a sit down). It has worked faithfully for nearly three years now. With it, I produce lovely mugs of Twinings Assam tea (dark and malty, according to the box) and my beloved PG Tips that I purchase in massive boxes whilst in England on business. I also have a tin of lovely (if poncey) jasmine tea and (equally poncey) fragrant lotus tea sent to me by a good friend after their holiday to Asia. (My home kettle is a large Sunbeam model -- the type with the stationary base, floating red ball, and automatic shutoff -- they DO sell proper kettles here, they're just hard to find.)
My biscuit supply is usually crammed into my suitcase upon my return -- HobNobs (plain and plain chocolate), Jaffa Cakes (small boxes because an open packet is an empty packet) and Crunchie bars (yes, I know, they're candy, but I'm allowed, aren't I?)
My local imported-foods emporium usually carries a small but well-formed assortment of biscuits, as well -- HobNobs, in all of their various varieties, digestives, and the occasional bonus packet of Penguins. (my husband doesn't know of my expensive habit -- the price is typically 400% higher than Sainsbury's...) I haven't managed to find any Jaffas, but I can usually find Pim's, which are not the same, but make an acceptable substitute.
I hope you see this as some sort of hope....
|Nicey replies: Sunshine,
Well that's very nice to hear that yet another of our American cousins has a big stash of PG tips and Hobnobs. If you really want to be a true Anglophile however you'll need to change your name to 'outbreaks of persistent drizzle'.
||Dear Nicey, Wifey and the younger members of staff,|
First of all, I love the website- tea and biscuits truly deserve the recognition your site gives them!
I was hoping you (as the guru of all things tea-related) could answer this question for me: is there a right way to stir tea? It hadn't occurred to me that there was a right or a wrong way to stir tea, until I made a cup of tea for my mum the other day. She complained that I'd stirred it the 'wrong way' (anti-clockwise, probably because I'm left handed!) and that tea should always be stirred clockwise. Was she just being mad (likely) or am I indeed going against the laws of tea? I'd hate to be angering the gods of the teapot lest I get a poisoned cup of tea one day as punishment...
Also, on the subject of kettle-fur, our kettle in the office at work (a small office of 6 people and one kettle, meaning we're only inches away from essential tea supplies- which surely makes for more satisfied and therefore productive staff) had until recently rather disgusting flakes of white stuff. Apparently this only started after we changed to 'pow-wow' water- as we rather naughtily use the water from the big tank in the water cooler because we're miles away from a tap. It all came off with some peculiar blue stuff called 'Oust' though, so we have nice tea (without dandruff) again now!
Looking forward to reading the book, and it will make an excellent Christmas present for my tea-loving boyfriend,
|Nicey replies: Yes the answer is all too obvious as it involves the Coriolis Force which causes a change in angular momentum proportional to the distance from the equator. In the northern hemisphere one would expect to stir tea in a clockwise direction however in the southern hemisphere it should be stirred anti-clockwise. These are the same forces that goven the rotation of weather systems, and the water running out of your bath. To stir in the other direction would be flying in the face of the celestial dance itself.|
|Andrew and Nicky Morgan
You can imagine the dreadful fright the wife and I got last weekend when an Avon & Somerset Police envelope plopped through our letterbox onto the mat. Having already banged-to-rights by an undercover speed-detector van I thought 'Oh! Here we go again! The wife has been pushing the Volvo about 40 again!'.
So You can imagine the further dreadful fright I got when I spotted the vehicle in question was my own faithful Citroen Berlingo (Hey! What's that? It's a car - no, it's an MPV etc etc). 'Gnnn' was my first reaction and I felt a twinge in the wallet. But reading on it turned out that Plod was merely sending me a friendly warning.
'It was noticed that you had a toolbox on display in your vehicle' the letter said. 'What? Never!' I said. I don't have a toolbox. In the back of my Berlingo is a portable table, 2 folding chairs, a kettle, a box of Taylor's of Harrowgate Gold Blend tea bags and a tupperware cake storage box.
It was then that the full horror came to bear.
Plod was referring to my 'makings' - my portable gas stove! Tucked snugly away in its black storage box the average thug would have mistaken it for a drill or lathe or other such heavy industrial equipment.
You can imagine the feeling of relief that swept over us. We certainly got off lightly there! Considering my car is always left open and the fact that we leave various goodies around to avoid stealing our kettle. The yobbos can take my cd stereo, the son's Gameboy, our Bush In-car DVD player or my digital camera. But heaven forbid anybody should ever steal the makings.
How we laughed!
Andrew & Nicky Morgan
We are quite happy with our kettle which we've had for over a year. The base rotates, which is good as you don't have to be too accurate when clutching at the handle when tea is urgently needed. The on/off switch has a nice red glowing light and clicks pleasantly, and the bottom of the kettle is a big flat element - easy to clean and fast to boil. It is also fun to watch the water boil; we haven't had a glass kettle before but this is an entertaining feature.
Sadly the glass has a disadvantage in hard water areas - it gets scaley. We use a wire fuzzball whatsit but it can only do so much. We do find that the kettle self-cleans to some extent though - the scale only grows so much at the most-used, bottom of the kettle, and then subsequent boils do not seem to add to the scale thickness. I sometimes scrub the scale out. You can always watch the water bubbling away though.
We've attached a picture - I'm afraid it hasn't been recently cleaned!
Laura (who worries that she doesn't clean the scale out enough) and Paul (who doesn't)
|Nicey replies: I expect if you boil half a cup of white vinegar in it from time to time along with some water, it will see off your scale.