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How I drink tea

Bottle of 1979 Hospices de Beauneby Mark Taylor

Some things are great luxuries in life. Great wine, for example. It is wonderful, but it takes years to learn to appreciate and it is very expensive. Gaining the experience to appreciate a truly great wine is an enormous investment. 

Tea, on the other hand, is inexpensive. It is, arguably, the most affordable luxury item. Even great tea is within reach of most everyone.

My wife and I start each day with a cup of tea. We consume large quantities of very good tea, and we occasionally splurge on great tea. When I get up in the morning I brew a quart of tea. Together we sit and share our tea. This simple ritual helps us to connect as we start the day together. We talk about how we are feeling, ask one another “Did you sleep well?” - small topics that allow us to express our concern and affection for one another. We visit a little about what we are going to do in the coming hours. Make plans. Share our thoughts. What I am writing now comes out of that sort of conversation. Tea is a part of it. The tea is warm, soothing, and it gently helps us transition into our day of activity.

We don’t always drink the “best” tea, but we buy teas we like that have a depth and complexity that we don’t get tired of drinking and that we can afford comfortably. We prefer whole leaf, loose, black tea. These are teas that are very good for their type and that we can enjoy when we focus our attention on them, or that we can ignore when we want to focus on other things.

It is very little trouble to make tea. I boil the water in an ordinary saucepan on the stove while I measure the dry tea into a glass carafe of the type normally used in coffee makers. I put the carafe on one end a towel near the stove, then when the water is boiling I quickly pour it over the dry tea. I put the lid on the carafe, drape the rest of the towel over the brewing tea, and start a timer. When the timer signals, I strain the finished tea into a thermos. It literally takes 10 minutes from the time I put the water on the stove until I have a thermos of tea. Most of that time is just waiting, so I might empty the dishwasher or something like that while I wait. 

Couldn’t we do the same thing with grocery store tea made from tea bags? Yes, of course. There actually are some teas we like at Albertsons. The thing about better tea is that it is simply nicer. Having something nice to focus our attention on is a good thing in the morning. It gives us something to appreciate and to be grateful for. The teas we use are subtle, and they do not give everything every morning. It is interesting to pick out the tastes and flavors we notice each morning. Part of what we share is the experience of tea.

Comparing the cost of tea to other luxury food and beverage items

  • Cost of four servings of chocolate cake purchased from a bakery -- about $8.
  • Cost of a 750 ml bottle of ordinary wine -- about $18. Serves four.
  • Cost of loose tea to make 1 liter -- about $1.20. Serves four.

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