The economy is still struggling, gas prices are high, Congress is debating potential actions in the Middle East, JJ Abrams has placed his love of Star Wars above Star Trek and the Mariners are still in the cellar of the American League West.
I tell you, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
So, forget all about that doom and gloom and let’s turn for a brief second to something that never changes: tea.
Yes, this is a column about tea. And, cue the action-packed text!
I’ve always been a tea lover. When I was younger, I loved the standard Lipton black tea, mixed with some sugar and lemon, which I thought cut the foam on the top of the tea. In my view then, the drink wasn’t made right if the foam was still present.
It also wasn’t good tea, as I would later learn.
My parents had (and still have) a glass jar filled with various types of tea. Sure, it might not have been the best method of keeping tea, contained in teabags that were contained in paper squares, and the different scents were victims of inbreeding from time to time. But, I didn’t know any better. Eventually, the variety became less, and one type of tea took over the glass jar.
I continued on, learning about proper tea brewing and the various types of teas out there until finally my revolution arrived in the form of a bald-headed scientific TV host with a quirky sense of humor: Alton Brown.
On his show “Good Eats,” Brown would break down each recipe and explain the science behind what was cooking and how it all worked on a molecular level. Food science. Yes, I’m a nerd.
One of the episodes focused on tea, going through its origins, how it eventually gained popularity in Europe, the various types of tea and, of course, the different levels of quality you’ll find in supermarkets. Brown brought out an original tea sifter used in early days of processing the product. Each of the five or six grades broke down the quality of the tea leaf as it was sifted and sorted on each level.
After showing off the full leaf tea, semi-full leaf and some mid-range quality leaves, Brown then opened the last two levels: fannings and dust. He said that’s what you’ll find in most teabags at the store. Sure enough, after cutting one open at home, he was right.
While a good quality bagged tea is a great convenience, there isn’t any substitute for having a cup of very high grade Assam tea. And it’s actually quite cheap when bought in bulk at Huckleberry’s, around $5 will get you about a quart-sized plastic bag of loose leaf tea.
Although it takes a few extra minutes to prepare, the end result is a perfect drink that will quench any thirst. While many need to fluff up their tea with sugar, milk or even lemon juice, when made right, tea doesn’t need any additives. The same goes for coffee.
So as the milder weather approaches in the coming weeks, consider investing in something that will improve your life.
A good, well-made cup of tea is one of life’s most simple pleasures, only slightly lower on the scale of awesome than a well-made cup of coffee. But that’s a column for another time, and involves more Alton Brown. Despite all the advances we’ve made in our society, sometimes it’s the simple things that make life better.
Because, you see, the more that things change, the more they stay the same.