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I just read your bit in the book about tea in SF and fully sympathise. Was wondering if you have tried tea left in a flask with milk and tea bags for many hours (5?). You would imagine it would come out discustingly stewed, wouldn't you. But it comes out tasting like Chai which was quite a shock for me when my brother introduced it to me a month or two ago, because it reminded me of being in india, where the tea is deliciously sweet and tasty. I thought it was the cloves and other jazz they put in that made it so tasty but now i know its just the fact that its been left to stew for so long (maybe the milk sweetens and turns into something like condensed milk).
Anyways, I've laughed a lot in the last 10 mins reading your book in the toilet of my friends about biscuits, especially the bit about Wagon Wheels, which when I was younger always viewed with disdain because of the soggy biscuit and poor quality ingredients, but then later in life wisened up and learnt to enjoy it as a whole!
happy chai/tea/etc drinking
|Nicey replies: I heard that in Indian road side truck stops they rate the tea in kilometers depending on how far you have been and how stewed up the tea is, with 500K tea being the thickest.
Personally I'm not consumed with a burning desire to try either tea Chai / Tea made with condensed milk / tea that has been stewed in any way, but I'll defend your right to do so if it comes down to that. Lets end by thinking of a hypothetical situation in which that might happen.
||Hello there Nicey, Wifey and the Younger Members of Staff|
I am responding to your website's article about holiday cakes. I haven't had a big summer holiday this year so I'm afraid I don't have anything international to offer, but I have been on a few camping trips in England.
The first of these was an expedition to the Essex coastline. The weather was horrible, but we had an aim - to walk from Southminster Station to the coast to find somewhere to camp and to swim in the sea. We managed the first two. It rained all the way and footpaths in Essex seem to be the same thing as overgrown field boundaries. So when we arrived at the campsite / empty field, we set up the tent and dived it. Never before has a tent felt so warm and cosy. Then came the ultimate satisfaction... we brewed up a cup of tea on the camping gas stove under an umbrella outside the tent door and got out
the cake. It was a slightly random purchase initially - bought only because it mentioned tea on the wrapper - but the contents were delicious. I had bought a Yorkshire Tea Tea Loaf. It's a dense but moist loaf with raisins and cherries and it goes superbly with a nice cup of tea and a sit down. I would heartily recommend it for anyone, especially if you are planning on a rainy camping trip and have therefore attached a picture to help spot it in the supermarket. I would have photographed the cake inside too, but I was in on my own last night and thought if I opened it I would have eaten the who thing which I think would have got me in trouble with my housemate since I had bought it in order to share the joy I felt in Southminster.
Enjoy the cake.
|Nicey replies: James,
Thanks for evoking such a vivid tea and sit down moment, it almost makes me want to rekindle my hiking days and wander around a bit lost and drenched to the skin so that I can really really enjoy a cup of tea.
||When it comes to drinking tea from flasks, I'm with you on the point about carrying milk separately (we use a small plastic tonic-water bottle from Waitrose). But I have to disagree with your suggestion of using the flask as a teapot, carrying hot water in it during the walk and adding tea-bags immediately before the moment of consumption. |
1. We all know that water off the boil, however hot, makes an inferior cup of tea (think of all those awful urn-type contraptions and Continental attempts to serve tea - a cup of hottish water with a dry teabag in the saucer, awaiting dunking).
2. If you don't want to consume all your tea at once, or are drinking your first cup slowly, the remainder will get disgustingly stewed.
May I suggest to David Blaxill that he invests a shiny new flask and tries again? I got my boyfriend a jolly nice dark-grey matt one by Lifeventure from Ellis Brigham for Christmas and very pleased with it he is too (despite previously protesting there was nothing wrong with the skanky old one). The reason I say this is that I think sometimes old flasks taint the tea - a build-up of tannin or something. David should then try filling it (pre-warmed with boiling water) with just black tea made in the teapot - adding cold milk just before drinking really does make a difference.
There you go, another excuse to get out the flask icon.
|Nicey replies: Hello Katie,
Actually our flask makes a splendid cup of of tea in the way I've described, and is way hotter than any dodgy old urn thing. Obviously it's not boiling but I would say it produces better tea than some of our heavier teapots, even when correctly warmed.
If Ellis Brigham's flasks are anything like their skis then I'm probably not sufficiently advanced in the art to use one according to the Australian/French/South African guy working there.
I was reading David Blaxill's comments on 'flask tea' and it bought back memories of the boot of my Grandparent's Morris Minor in the 70s/80s. It was used to house tea-making equipment which was carried at all times. They had a camping gaz 'bluet' stove, kettle, 'unbreakable' cups (how we laughed on the numerous occasions when my dad managed to break one) teabags, sugar and 'Five Pints' powdered milk. Also biscuits, which usually included gingernuts, gypsy creams and bourbons (these last were exclusively for consumption by the dog).
The whole caboodle was referred to as 'The Makings' and no day out was complete without a stop in a layby where my Nan would brew up, seemingly unaware of the thunder of lorries whizzing past, while me and my sister sought shelter in the back of the car and keenly anticipated licking the filling out of the gypsy creams. Happy days....
Claire (who has just finished a Soreen 'Go' Bar, and wonders where it would sit on the Venn diagram of biscuits.
|Nicey replies: How I love an excuse to get out the flask icon. My Dad used to make tea at work (the Royal Mint at Llantristant) using Five Pints dried milk. I remember it came in a plastic bottle that looked like a proper glass milk bottle.
Actually Wifey and I were out for a nice healthy bike ride earlier and not only did we see a couple of Red phone boxes but I also spied two genuine bottles of milk at the end of somebody's drive and had to pull over to admire them.
As for Soreen Go bars I've not had one but hope they are related to Soreen Malt loaf in some way. Hoorah for malt loaf especially with butter on it.
Fruit Shortcake Review
|Dear Nicey |
I was most alarmed to read your reply in the Wife's column on the subject of red telephone boxes; not because this is blatant control freakery (you did it when she was out, you fiend), but the admission that, after a nice walk, the two of you drank tea from a... flask!
I have to ask the question - why? Even after being in a flask only a few moments, the divine beverage takes on a most unpleasant taste, and certainly loses at least ninety per cent of its niceness. You will probably say that any tea after a nice walk is better than no tea, and I think if you held a poll on this subject, the majority of people would agree. As a purist, however, I would reccommend a trip to a camping equipment store, where, for a reasonable expenditure, you can purchase a small gas stove and camping kettle. Very portable, and ideal for those nice country moments when only a fresh brew will hit the spot. I've got one of these in my allotment shed, it's great.
I am sure there are those who will disagree with my loathing of flask tea (probably people who take lots of sugars). I was put off flasks as a child in the fifties, after watching my father brew up on a parrafin and meths primus when we went for nice picnics. He was a flask tea hater too. His tea making kit (tea bags were a thing of the future) took up half the car boot - he was a man of strong principles. I think we still had an empire in those days.
PS I recently reacquainted myself with the fruit shortcake - McVities, to be precise, and jolly nice they were too. McVits didn't make a fruit shortcake in the late sixties when I worked for them, it was the preserve of UB stablemate Crawfords. I am sure they were twice the circumference of the ones you get now. But the small ones taste just as good, and calorie counters can polish off half a dozen with a clear conscience, safe in the knowledge they are only really eating three biscuits.
|Nicey replies: Remain calm David.
We open the lid of our flask of piping-hot water, then pop in two tea bags. Wait a while, then use it just like a tea pot. Our milk is carried in a small glass Perrier bottle, liberated from the French this summer, which does the job very well.