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Fox's Mint Echo Review
|Hello Nicey & Wifey,|
I've been addicted to your site for quite some time now - it's fab!
I work in a very nice office where the attitude to nice cups of tea and sit downs is pretty relaxed. In particular, the biscuit-providing arrangement is interestingly unregulated: basically, everyone just brings in some biccies whenever the tin looks a bit empty. So far this has proved entirely sustainable, with the only biscuit-drought occurring immediately after New Year when I think everyone felt that they'd overindulged somewhat so ought to give the biccies a brief miss.
Anyhoo, the biccy of choice at the moment, courtesy of a "2fer" at some supermarket or other, is the Fox's Echo. We've had both plain and mint varieties but there's only minty ones left now. It'd be interesting to know how you felt about these biccies but that's not why I'm writing. I'm really wanting to see how widespread the incidence of illicit TimTam Slamming was...
I was reading Murray James' letter detailing his difficulties with The Slam (you've got to suck it up quick and slam the second the tea hits your tongue, mate) when it occurred to me that the Echo was of a similar construction to the TimTam - biscuit + filiingy bit enclosed in a choccy coating. Being a bit bored now with the minty taste, but still wanting the choccy and biscuit I threw caution to the wind, made sure no-one was looking and proceeded to Slam my Echo. And you know, even with the minty bit, it really was not bad at all. The choccy at the end that got dunked went very melty so I wouldn't recommend this for younger members of staff (well, not without a suitable amount of plastic sheeting laid out to a 2m radius anyway) but overall it was a good mix of choccy biscuity meltyness. Bit too much mint filling for my taste but I'd spotted that before I started and was ready for it when it came. I really do think you ought to give it a go.
So, I'm now inspired to experiment with other biscuits. Is this rash? Foolhardy, even? Does anyone else do this? I can't imagine I'm the only person to have spotted this potential in other biscuits. And, most importantly, would you have any particular recommendations?
|Nicey replies: Yes the Cadbury's Finger comes in for a fair bit of this treatment, so I'm told.|
||Dear Mr Nicey and Mrs Wifey,|
Tomorrow and Friday, my wife and I will be entertaining electrical engineers while they do some work to our house.
Of course we are concerned that we give them the right tea and biscuits for the occasion. We plan to give them Sainsbury Red Label tea (from tea bags) as we find this to be a good reliable brew. You can easily get two mugs out of one tea bag and the taste seems to suit most people.
However, we are not sure what would be the best biscuit: my immediate thought was the Rich Tea (although we do only have digestives in the house at present). In your experience, is there a biscuit that you would recommend for feeding electrical engineers whilst they are at work? Would they be disappointed by a Rich Tea or a Digestive as these bisuits are non chocolate and a bit traditional?
|Nicey replies: Alan,
I think you have it all under control, of course you might need to have the sugar handy as they could require up to three spoonfuls per mug although two is more common. I would normally serve Rich Teas to any trades people who are working outside, as they are optimised for high speed dunking in rapidly cooling tea. Presumably your electrical work is inside in which case the Digestives should work well, or maybe some nice Fruit Shortcake, or Custard Creams. You should always be aiming to offer a biscuit that is humble yet tasty, in this way your 'guest' will feel quite comfortable tucking away as many as they fancy. If the biscuits are too fancy then people can feel inhibited, and not take as many biscuits as they should. If you feel their work has been of exceptional quality and their manner courteous and thoughtful then you might wish to serve them a Penguin with their last cuppa.
||I thought you may be interested to learn that the vending machine in the physics department of imperial college (a place at the very forefront of scientific invention) has a vending machine of the 'clix' brand which in addition to the regular vending machine issues you have highlighted also revels in giving you the 60p you get back from a pound in exchange for your steaming liquid entirely in 1p pieces.|
In continental tea issues my girlfriend is currently living in Germany where they seem to have pioneered a kind of halfway house between loose leaf and the tea bag. I'm not sure if you are aware of this development but essentially it is a very long teabag which is open at one end, the theory is you put your loose leaf into the bag and then put it into your mug. The teabag is just long enough that it stands in your mug without the contents spilling over into the tea when you add water. I think they're rather clever.
Yours Peter Burgess
|Nicey replies: No I'd not heard of those DIY teabags, they sound like they could be well received by 'ALL tea bags are filled with sweepings' brigade. One such lady last Tuesday tried to tell me that those little metal ball things on chains were marvelous, that I should go to India to see how tea is really made before having an opinion on it, and that as she was a wine writer she knew a thing or two about things and I was best advised not to argue with her. I told her that we drink PG and this seemed to annoy her sufficiently.|
|Mrs E Mitchell
||Dear Mr Nicey,|
Your website is sound and has clearly brought you fame and perhaps even fortune when you were interviewed by Richard and Judy. However, I am rather disappointed by the diminutive tea section, your advocacy of making tea in a mug and not in a pot, and by the image accompanying this rather filthy propaganda, involving a maxpax plastic cup purchased at the train station, filled with an insipid infusion from a bag of dusty sweepings. You demonstrate such fine wisdom regarding biscuits that surely this is wrong? I feel strongly that for the 'nice cup of' experience to be truly optimal the ritual of pot-based tea-making must be explored.
Firstly, the pot:
Grannies swear by porcelain, The Worcester factory made a nice little number between 1750 and 1780 odd. Now worth a small fortune.As long as it's waterproof and has a spout it'll do the job
The tea itself:
Leaves good. Bags, bad. Teabags contain the dust and tiny bits left over from bagging the real stuff. GENUINE WARNING: Teabags may also contain monkey poo. As the leaves are left to dry in sunny exotic climes monkeys can sometimes be seen covorting and also pooing nearby. A certain level of macaque faeces is actually permissible in teabag contents - ever wondered about those strange islands of dust floating on the top of the mug?
Warming the pot:
The debate about the requirement, or not, for warming the pot with hot water before brewing has been raging for decades. I believe the tea stays warmer for longer and tastes better through the magic of chemistry: heat + stoneware + tea = prolonged tastiness.
Once you have wet the leaves the brewing time will dictate the tea style:
1 minute: namby pamby tea for girly types wearing lace and pearls
5 minutes: a good brew
10 minutes: a marvellous northern beverage - satisfying and envigorating
15 minutes: oh dear - overbrewed: bitter, like old boots and resembling last summer's spray tan debacle
There is a great deal more to say on this topic e.g.:
1) I believe Yorkshire tealeaves (Taylors or Harrogate) are by far the best and my old man agrees. The perfectly brewed pot of Yorkshire has a kind of sweetness, without sugar, that is a taste sensation. Typhoo is a distant second.
2) The fluid dynamics of the tea within the spout and the shape of the lip is key to the pouring action and the prevention of drips. Spout design is a complex science.
3) I could go on
Perhaps your site is primarily a biscuit forum and not about tea at all. Can you clarify?
Mrs E Mitchell
|Nicey replies: Dear Mrs E Mitchell,
We are sorry that you found our diminutive tea section a disappointment. Being broadminded people we often enjoy a cup of PG on the train regardless of how much monkey crap may or may not be in it. As for tea matters in general we have found, as your email admirably demonstrates, that the vast majority of people have already firmly made up their minds on most aspects of tea. However, once in while we are more than happy to pop up the odd submitted sermon on tea making, to let others know the strength of feeling on these matters.
Bit of excitement in the air today as tonight I am going to my first ever football match. More of a rugby man myself but a free ticket is a free ticket at the end of the day. So i'll be watching the might of Bristol City v Walsall. It led me to thinking about sports venues and their tea facilities. I've been to a number of sporting grounds in my life, mainly rugby and cricket and the tea vending facilities vary greatly. They range from a standard cafe style room/building to third party tea vans to an old biddy with an urn.
I think a census is in order. I'd love to know the facilities and standard of tea in sports grounds around the country and discover trends and pattern in region, sports types, size of venue etc. I'd be quite happy to collate any info gathered and draw conclusions.
|Nicey replies: Jim,
I have only been to one football match in my life (Swansea vs Wrexham, 1981), it was one of the dullest things I've ever had to endure, and I'm lumping in a whole lifetimes worth of waiting room experiences in with that. It was way more interesting watching the crowd. There was one leather faced old boy who most have been well into his eighties who could shout (what it was he shouted I couldn't make out) at a volume matching that of an express train passing by. He only did this on three seemingly random occasions, taking about twenty minutes to recover in between. Everybody completely ignored him despite his amazingly loud outbursts. If I recall the catering consisted of tea in polystyrene cups and hotdogs, I had neither. I can still remember the sense of jubilation that came at the end of the match when I was able to leave.
Anyhow good luck it all, I'm sure it needs doing I expect.