Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ode to Tea

Thanks be to God for the gift of tea:
          The favored drink of many societies
          steeped from leaves of many varieties
          Tea is its name - a delightful beverage
          And many a merchant has gained some leverage
          Exporting tons and tons of tea
          To satisfy the likes of me.
          The fragrant  leaves, from which it's brewed,
          White, green, or black - are multi-hued.
          With or without a sugar lump, it's
          Often paired with toast or crumpets.
          Tea can be common, or quite high-brow -
          Indeed, the study of the tao
          of tea can lead one's mind to ponder
          How it came to be, and wonder
          Who was first to sample its flavors
          Or dole it out as royal favors
          Offered to some concubines
           Instead of finest silks or wines?
          No coffee brewed could ever win
          A taste contest that tea was in.
          And putting exceptional flavors aside
          The truth just cannot be denied:
          For its medicinal values alone
          To tea belongs the crown and throne.
          Served piping hot, or over ice,
          Plain or with some added spice
          Sugary sweet, with lemon or cream
          (Or on cold nights, a shot of Jim Beam!)
           Tea's possibilities stretch to infinity
          Depending upon your desire or affinity.
          And so unto this royal treasure,
          My praise is offered without measure!
No finer quaff will ever be!

Needless to say, I love tea!  If you've only used tea bags - I don't care who makes them - then you have never really had tea!  For a wonderful treat, find a store or shop that sells loose tea, either in a packet or box. Choose two or three varieties, (Start by sampling the aroma of the leaves.  If you like that, you'll like the tea!), and for your first taste of each, drink them separately, brewed according to directions given by tea salesperson, or by reading the package.  Some tea should never be subjected to the insult of boiling water.  Too hot can ruin the delicate flavors of some varieties.  In my 1-quart teapot, I spoon in 3 or 4 heaping teaspoons of the leaves (I like my tea STRONG!).

What I love to do is blend varieties:  I particularly like a half-and-half mixture of Lady Grey and Jasmine.  Have fun discovering your own blend!  I pour the hot water over the tea, immediately put the lid on the pot, and swaddle it in a wonderful cozy my niece Abby (Knitter par Excellence!) made for me.  I usually let the leaves infuse for about 5-8 minutes.  My first cup is weaker than the last cup, but that's OK!  It's all good!  I also like my tea sweetened sometimes (I know, I'm not a purist), and will add honey or sugar to my liking.  If a quart of tea doesn't get me through until lunch time, then I just heat some more water and pour it over the same leaves.  I have been known to eke three pots-full out of one portion of leaves!  If you desire, you can put your leaves in a porcelain or stainless steel tea ball, however, I don't believe those gadgets allow the tea to steep properly.  I use my antique hammered silver over-the rim strainer.  The fine holes in its shallow bowl keep out all but the tiniest leaves from your brew - you really need a few strays to be left at the bottom of your cup!  Otherwise, how will a gypsy tell your fortune?

I lift my china cup (or pottery mug) to you all, Gentle Readers!  It is filled to the brim with prayers for your happiness and wholeness.  And remember - from the first sip to the last little drop from the pot, when it comes to tea, there can never be enough. . .
(Unless you are miles from the nearest restroom!)


  1. Fun post.

    I love hot tea on a cold winter afternoon, and iced tea in summer. And it's fun trying different varieties.

    One of my favorites: Constant Comment

  2. I completely agree! And I have some loose leaves left from my trip to China a while back. I should bring it with me next time I come visit and we can drink authentic Chinese green tea together! It's amazing! Long live tea! :-D

  3. All I can say is, the visit better be soon! How about you all come down here for T'giving? Our WHOLE family (including, Adam, Matt, Suddie Zoë, Josh, and Sarah Beth will be with us!!! I can hardly wait, and what a wonderful way for you all to meet the newest Tohline-Calhoun (Zoë), and the next: Sarah Beth! I want to see you so much!