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I received your book at Christmas from my brother and have so far enjoyed reading it. I mainly do so on the toilet! I find the sections just long enough so that I can read one while I do a two. Sorry to be crude but that?s the way it is.
There are lots of elements in the book that I strongly agree with and find it reassuring that other people think the same way as myself. However, we certainly do not agree on our tea brewing methods. I can imagine that masses of people have been in touch with you over this issue as it is so controversial. Just in case they haven?t, I feel it is my duty to raise the matter with you.
Using one tea bag to brew two cups of tea is utterly ridiculous. I cannot believe that you ?a supposed tea connoisseur, if you will- would stoop to the level of reusing a tea bag. (In these few sentences I will be referring to the brew in the cup method of production) It is a well-known fact that the main infusion takes place in the first few seconds after the boiling water has hit the bag. Trying to achieve this same infusion, in another cup, with the same bag is preposterous. The bag is second hand and should be discarded like a sock with two holes. How can the two cups taste the same? Who gets the secondary cup? What do you do when you are only making tea for yourself? How can you get them finished at the same time? These are all questions that baffle me while I read your book, wondering whether I can trust your opinions on other matters regarding tea.
I would have liked this book to be a kind of bible on tea, but I couldn?'t be Christian if I didn'?t agree with God when it comes to his opinion on coveting my neighbours? wife (which I do not covet my neighbours wife but agree with God?s opinion).
This may be of no use or interest to you but here it is anyway, my tea brewing method: (for two)
- Boil thy kettle (freshly drawn water)
- Place one tea bag in each mug
- Add water to mugs
- Let alone for two minutes (no stirring or squeezing), (insure tea spoon is not in mug)
- Remove the bags with minimal aggravation (I find squeezing causes the tea to taste ?baggy?, as in ?of the bag?
- Add milk (no sugar)
- Stir well.
Thank you for your time.
Hope there are no hard feelings.
|Nicey replies: As you leave your bag in for two minutes I certainly wouldn't try to make another cup with it. However we only give our bags a matter of 10-15 seconds whilst giving it a bit of a stir, and it works fine for us and a great many others for that matter. As we explained in the book when talking about leaf size in modern tea bags after two minutes a average tea bag in a mug will have begun to stew so unless it is removed exceedingly carefully will release the stewed tea from within, hence the perceived baggy flavour. This is due to the heavier molecular weight tannins which account for this flavour being able to move through the now saturated and hence widely spaced fibers of the cell walls. If the bag were to do this in the context of a teapot then it wouldn't be so much of an issue as it would no doubt be working with more than one mug of boiling water.
If somebody were to make a cup of of tea with one of your used two minute bags it would taste awfully stewed, and I certainly wouldn't fancy that.
I hope we have arrived at some sort of understanding.
South East Asian Multireview Review
You may be interested to know (if you don't already) that the side of the Tomato Layer biscuits seems to be proclaiming them to be "Tomato Layered Cake" in jauntily dyslexic Japanese kana. This hasn't made me more interested in eating them, although it has given me a slight desire to see a packet of them in the flesh so I can check my reading.
I should also tell you how much I enjoyed the book. I got it for Christmas, which I think is the best way to get books, combining as it does getting them for free with the extra time to read them. It made me laugh out loud in the middle of a grim four-hour train journey into London the day after Boxing Day, and there is no higher praise than that I think.
South East Asian Multireview Review
|About the Kinh Do Bakery biscuits you mentioned. They have a website too kinhdofood.com. You're right, they are Vietnamese. I haven't tried the biccies you mention, but living in Vietnam they have a poor rep. as cheap garbage and no-one I know buys them. Korea does slightly better, but not much. Fortunately I have never come across Chinese biscuits. One future tip, I'd steer well clear of Polish biccies if I were you.|
|Nicey replies: Actually their website is quite good, and packed with pictures of their biscuits, which my head (and entire alimentary tract led by my taste buds are advising against), where as my heart says 'perhaps'. They would probably have to get me semi lashed up on something first, however, I don't think I could do it sober. Not after the last time.
I've only ever had nice Polish biscuits but they have all been made by Bahlsen.
|Barbara Elizabeth Stewart
In perusing your lovely archives, I came across a bit of contradictory reviewing and what appears to be bit of nationalistic bias in your assessments.
This is an excerpt from your review of (British) custard creams"
"It's a little known fact that the incisor teeth of the male human are specially adapted to prize apart the two biscuits of the custard cream so that the tasty cream layer can be got at."
And this is a review of the (American) oreos.
"The pack absurdly comes with eating instructions, of which there are six stages. I won't detail them all but basically you are encouraged to wrench the thing into its component parts. What is the point of assembling it in the first place if you have to take it all to bits to eat it? "
I can't stand oreos, either (sickly sweet cream and acrid chocolate) and I agree that the proliferating cutesy tendency of box-copywriters to explain how to eat crackers and cookies is irritating. (Cheez-Its describes the supposed aerodynamics of the four pinpricks in each cracker and then, in tiny print, presumably to fend off ligitation, informs the consumer that it's just joking.)
But fair is fair. Either it's sensible to pry a cream cookie apart to get at the "tasty" layer or it's pointless to assemble it if you have to "take it all to bits to eat it." You can't say it's all right for the English cookies and stupid for the American ones.
|Nicey replies: Well spotted so here is my heartfelt defense..
How many americans actually have to refer to the instructions on the side of the pack in order to consume their Oreos? I'm guessing none. This is why they are absurd.
The difference is really apparent when we consider the target beverages. A Custard Cream, built for tea, may be dunked in hot cuppa when whole and so comes ready to rock and roll. The Oreo on the other hand gets involved with a glass of milk at stage 4 or 5 I think according to the instructions, which means it would be more convenient if they were shipped disassembled and flat packed Ikea style ready for business.
One can choose to dismantle a Custard Cream should you wish, or to eat some other way, it's your choice. I don't slavishly have to take apart every Custard Cream I eat. In fact I mostly eat them whole. However, with the Oreo it has a diagram on the side of the pack telling you to do this. You see? Custard Cream, you choose what to do, Oreo, apparently a mandatory dismantling and cream licking rigmarole.
A bit of useless information (!!) following on from the article written by Liz Barwell regarding the disappearance of Osborne biscuits.
While researching my family tree I discovered that my great grandfather, Henry Short, was a biscuit maker and owned Serpells of Reading...I'm told that it was him that actually invented Osborne biscuits. The family sold out to Huntley & Palmer (or whatever they were called in the early days!) at least 50 years ago...so blame them for Osborne's demise!! A bit more useless information to throw around the tea table...Henry was also Mayor of Reading in the late 1920's...could this appointment have been due to the biscuits?!
|Nicey replies: Not useless to us, even if it does conflict with my completely fabricated story that Queen Victoria invented them whilst staying on the Isle of Wight. Actually fifty years ago would have been only about 10 or 15 years before H&P merged with Peek Frean to form Associated biscuits, and about 100 years since the company was founded in Reading. The Butter Osborne certainly made it into 1970's.|