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||Good Morning Nicey, |
Just though I'd pass on a tea related episode from this weekend.
My daughter has just reached the grand old age of 12 and has decided that she's old enough to go to town with just her friends. However, she's still quite keen to have a parent within easy reach. This led to me being stuck in Swansea this Saturday wandering around like a real Johnny no mates. I'm not great shopper and after a very short while I'd had more that enough. In the end I bought myself an Ordnance Survey map of this year's holiday destination and sneaked off to the new TTotal tea shop up stairs in Waterstones (the old Carlton cinema).
The shop takes up the window side of the second floor. You can chose from high barstools in the window, which allow you to watch the comings an goings at Woolworths across the way, chunky wooden tables and chairs, or squidgy leather sofas. There were a few people about, but still plenty of room, despite it being just after lunchtime. Being a fresh air fiend I plumped for one of the bar stools by an open window. (This my not have been the best move to preserve my elegance(??) as being only 5 foot one and a bit, getting on and off the thing involved a fair bit of clambering.)
Then it was off to the counter to survey the wares available. There were at least 8 different teas, coffee for those who like that sort of thing, and enough juices and soft drinks to keep the youngsters happy too. The cakes, biscuits and gingerbread men looked lovely, and for those in need of a bit more sustenance there was soup and toasted sandwiches. I plumped for a small pot of Assam and a slice of carrot cake, which came to a little over £3. You also get a loyalty card which is stamped for every pot of tea you buy. Every 6th pot is free, Hooray! The staff were really pleasant, but the girl was a little embarrassed at having to explain the timer that came with my pot of tea. They have worked out the optimum brewing time for each type of tea. The tea is put inside the pot in a sort of cylindrical strainer, and the moment that the hot water is applied they start the timer. When the alarm goes off you whip out the strainer thingy and put it in the little beaker that's provided and your perfectly brewed tea will never stew. Now, I was a bit sceptical about this, after all I've been making tea for myself for quite a while now. But I must confess that aside from a mild feeling of embarrassment when my tea alarm started bleeping, the system does seem to produce a very good cuppa. I managed to get 3 reasonably sized cups out of the small pot, which washed down the very nice carrot cake in a thoroughly acceptable manner. I also became pretty familiar with the topological features of the Perranporth area before I receive the call to retrieve my shopped out offspring.
If it wasn't for the fact that it would fill the place up and there wouldn't be a seat for me, I would toughly recommend TTotal to any tea lover looking for an oasis of calm in the centre of Swansea.
|Nicey replies: Thanks Sue for that in depth review of the tea making at Swansea Waterstones, it sounds all very nice, but I think the timers may be a bit intimidating. Waterstones have been doing great work selling our book and are going to be running a special offer on it when it comes out as a paperback in September.
Hope you have some nice Cornish Cream Teas on holiday in Perranporth.
||Well, I've not been on your site for a while, but must write about the great spoon debate. It's not that I have a favourtie, it's the state of the spoons in the office cutlery drawer that narks me the most. I'm not sure why people seem to think a quick rinse under the tap is enough to clean it before it's used again. If you look at the underside of spoons cleaned like that you notice dark stains round them, which can only be shifted by hot water, pan scrubber and washing up liquid. It's no use complaining your tea tastes funny, it's not me making horrible tea, it's your fault for not cleaning your spoons. Great cups of tea deserve decent spoons, and besides, if you're in the kitchen cleaning spoons and keeping everything all hygenic for the tea making, then you are getting a break from answering the 'phone which is no bad thing.|
|Nicey replies: Good speech Paul. I can't be doing with a filthy spoon, and your quite right that cleaning teaspoons isn't too tricky. As with dirty mugs, dishwashers are often to blame for this horrible state of affairs. Many deluded employers seem to think that a dishwasher will make their companies more productive as people will spend less time washing up and more time working. Of course the precise opposite is true. Much time is wasted by people scratching around for clean mugs and spoons as they are now willfully incapable of washing their own. Very few people ever load or even switch on the dishwasher, which although it should go on at the very end or the very start of the day tends to quickly get out of sync with daily office tea drinking rhythms.
A green nylon scrubber some hot water and a spot of washing liquid and 30 seconds later everything is spick and span. Personal responsibility versus some energy burning, chemical gobbling machine that incarcerates all the tea making kit for 45 minutes.
Plus what is the story with those people that half fill a mug with water and put all the teaspoons in there? It's a bit like those tall jars of disinfectant that hairdressers chuck combs in, except it's stagnating tap water laced with tea and coffee, milk and sugar. Having studied Microbiology and been given lectures at one point by a very senior public health Microbiologist on bacterial food poisoning, to say nothing of epidemiology, when ever I see one of these I have to empty it out wash up everything concerned in really hot soapy water then find the person concerned and strongly suggest that they desist.
All this spoon chat has let me to throw my tuppence'orth in - I have long wondered - why do we still use tea spoons now that we have teabags and not loose tea? Presumably tea spoons were designed for a more delicate population to measure the necessary amount of loose leaves to make the perfect cuppa? However, now that we have the meaty heft of a roasting hot, stainy-liquid spatterbag to contend with, are they not obsolete? It is somewhat like attempting to balance an unconscious Bernard Manning on a bar stool ( I shall leave the resultant damge to the linoleum around the bin to the reader's imagination).
Although, it should be admitted that a hot teaspoon is a formidable weapon in any pitched sibling kitchen battle (a rolled up teatowel and a spider in a cup being other favourites in our house). Okay, they may not be fit for their intended purpose but they have a place as household armoury.
|Nicey replies: Its my understanding that tea spoons were conceived for the stirring of tea to disperse the milk. Also should you wish the addition of sugar and its stirring in especially in the case of sugar lumps. The sugar bowl should ideally have its own spoon to prevent issues with damp lumps.
The tea caddy would typically have some form of dedicated measuring spoon or scoop with its own story to tell.
You are quite right to highlight the important role played by spoons in the enjoyment of a good cuppa. Too often they are regarded as mere implements, instead of being acknowledged for the highly refined tools that they are. What else could do the job better?
It's a simple fact that a really good spoon makes your tea taste better. And better tea means happier people.
I recently bought some shiny new ones for use in the office and productivity is up by several percentage points. For return on investment, a good set of tea spoons can't be beaten. I estimate that if every business in Britian were to buy new tea spoons the nation's GDP would increase by £1.4 billion.
|Nicey replies: You don't happen to make spoons do you?|
Just thought I'd tell you about the tea and sit down facilities at the Glastonbury festival (which I was lucky enough to attend this year). There are many more opportunities at Glastonbury to find a decent cup of tea than at any other festival that I've been to. The best one is the 'Tiny Tea Tent'. For £1.10 & 50p mug deposit you get the choice of 'normal' tea, Earl Grey, Lapsang Souchong etc, with a tea bag each and real milk out of a jug. This is a very busy place, probably due to the high caliber of tea making, but somehow a seat is always available, thus completing the tea break experience. Also, they have a varied collection of mugs - I was lucky enough to get one with a picture of a Volkswagen Beetle on it (my favourite car - spooky).
There's nothing quite like a cup of tea and a sit down in the Green Fields of Glastonbury whilst watching a vampire with dreadlocks on stilts chasing a child dressed as a fairy.
Wishing you good tea and festival health
|Nicey replies: On Saturday we met the former Tory Defense Minister John Nott, whilst we were guests on Radio 4's Loose Ends. He had just got back from Glastonbury the day before where he had managed to blag his way in. The Portacabin which held his press ticket had been washed away in the flooding, and given that he is 71 the chap on the gate believed his story.
It also turns out he had a hand in the introduction of VAT and remembers the classification of the Jaffa Cake as one of the thorny issues they grappled with over thirty years ago.