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|Nancy Bea Miller
||Dear Nicey and Wifey;|
Just found out myself that it is National Hot Tea Month here in the U.S., according to the American Food
and Drink Holidays people (whoever they are.) Saw it announced on a very nice site called Morning Coffee
and Afternoon Tea.
Just thought you might like to know. Off to celebrate!
(of Genre Cookshop)
|Nicey replies: Hello Nancy,
Indeed it appears to be. Mind you January is also National Egg, Meat, Soup, Bread, Bread Machine Baking, Candy and Prune Breakfast month. This some what steals Hot Tea's thunder. It's also troubling that the word 'Hot' has to be included to distinguish it from the barbarous business of iced tea.
The full calendar makes very funny and disturbing reading in equal measure. Obviously with Independence day July is a busy month and apart from National Scotch, Tequila, Grand Marnier, Daiquiri and Pina Colada day it also hosts National Fried Chicken, French Fries, Hot Dog, Ice Cream, Ice Cream Soda, Vanilla Ice day and for good measure National Junk Food day.
Personally, I am glad that PG Tips are losing their train franchise. For some years now I have travelled regularly by train to York and have come to call PG Tips tea bigs "Molly Browns". That is, they are unsinkable.
Its almost as if they've made the bags out of waterproof material, so that it can't possibly taste of tea until it is cold.
Good luck Tetley and well done for dropping the cartoon dwarfs in your advertising. As a short person myself, I did find it somewhat disrespectful. Take note Lurpak and Homepride, your days of shortism too are numbered.
||Hello Nicey et al.|
Although I come from Blighty I have been living for a year now in an awfully hot place called the Sahel, which is to the South West of the Sahara Desert that Michael Palin so memorably crossed on telly. There isn't much to do here, so rather understandably people have resorted to sitting down and drinking tea to pass the time. However, the tea-drinking customs here are so radically different to our own I thought people might appreciate an in-depth report of the process, so here goes...
First, there are no chairs to sit on, so we sit on the floor usually with some cushions to make it a bit more comfy. Then a fire is lit in the charcoal brazier on which the tea will be made. For the tea itself (which in Arabic is called ataaya) we use a small metal teapot that could hold one mug full of water, however tea is drunk in small glasses, like you might drink shooters from on a wild night out in Tunbridge Wells. We put three glasses of water and one glass of tea (dark Chinese green tea) in the teapot and place it on the fire. Once it has boiled and stewed for a couple of minutes, the pot is removed from the fire, then a glass full of sugar is added along with a sprig of mint if you've got some. The tea is then poured into two glasses, then back into the pot several times to mix in the sugar, then back on the fire for a couple of minutes to stew the mint. You then take three glasses, fill one with tea, and then pour that tea into the second glass, then from the second glass to the third, and back and forth to produce foam in each glass. The tea is then reheated before serving up and drinking with satisfyingly loud slurping noises. Once everyone has drunk, the mint is removed from the pot, another glass full of sugar and another sprig of mint are placed in with three more glasses of water and the same tea leaves and the whole process is repeated. It is then repeated a third time, again with the same tea leaves, meaning the final glass is very weak and sweet. The whole process usually takes around an hour so that's plenty of sitting down.
I've attached a small photo of some ataaya.
We don't have biscuits with tea, but we sometimes enjoy a piece of freshly-baked bread which is almost as good. Biscuits are available here, although they're mostly iffy French-style imports. The most promising are called Biscrem, which are dry and hard and flavourless outside but fillied with a sort of chocolatey flavoured somethingortheother that melts in the desert heat. Chocolate on the outside of things is unfortunately a bad idea in these parts.
None of the other foreigners here seem to understand why anyone would be interested in a website about sitting down and drinking tea and eating biscuits. Can you imagine? Might I suggest encouraging others from around the world to write and tell about their sitting down and drinking tea customs? Let it never be said that we Brits are not cosmopolitan.
|Nicey replies: Ben,
Thanks so much for that very useful account of Saharan tea drinking. I bought some of that Green Tea a month or two back just because I thought I should give it a go but found it utterly grim. Bunging in loads of sugar and mint couldn't hurt. Next time we fire up the BBQ maybe I'll try knocking up some desert style tea on it, I'm always looking for something useful to do with the BBQ after all the cooking has died down. Mind you I'll have to keep a look out for a nice second hand metal teapot now.
I couldn't read your news item about the change from PG to Tetley on the trains without bursting into type to redress the balance. You run a fine and great website but sometimes the "PG Tips bias" is too great for a Tetley man like myself to take.
PG make perfectly fine tea, granted, but given he choice Tetley is always the cuppa for me. Am i the only one that finds PG slightly bitter? Or is this an after effect of the many disgustingly stewed cuppas i used to get at my Nana and Granddad's?
While I'm on the issue, my Nana used to (my Great Aunt still does) "refresh the pot" with new boiling water. Leading to horribly stewed tea. Is this a relic of the war time rationing, an attempt to reuse tea?? Do some young hip-retro-post-ironic tea drinkers still do this nasty and evil practise?
PS: I'm on the market to buy a new teapot any suggestions welcome :-))
|Nicey replies: Hello Russell,
I completely agree with you except that personally I find Tetley a bit bitter, although I'll drink it when needs be. Also we always top up the pot as its only sensible. As for advice on teapot buying there is a chapter on that in our book.
After approximately 15 years of PG Tips drinking, last week my preferred choice of brew changed. I am now on Twinings Everyday Tea and can heartily recommend it. It's weird, I know it's only tea but it feels the same as dumping a girlfriend. Sorry PG Tips, it's not you, it's me........
|Nicey replies: It's strange for us too because we know you both so well. Hopefully there won't be any awkward scenes when you are both invited to the same parties. I think Wifey will probably take your ex-tea out on the lash and may not speak to your new tea for at least six months.
Perhaps you should consider making a clean break of it and getting a new mug, after all how will your new tea feel being in the same mug that you had all those lovely cups of PG Tips in?