Friday, January 31, 2014

Tea Thinking.

Tea Thinking

I’d like to illustrate a very simple point, one that I think too many of us overlook or outright ignore. To be blunt; every single human being on planet earth thinks differently from their counterparts. Each person has some method of doing an action, even something trivial during the course of their day that sets them apart from the next. Does that mean that the way in which they go about a task is better or worse than someone else? Is the way they think about a topic any more profound than the next stranger they meet?


In fact, there is a reason the word individual is used so often to describe someone. Because, let’s face the facts here; we are all individuals. Period. Let me demonstrate what I mean by way of a very basic example. The following is how I make tea:

Tea Making Procedure -
First, I take out a small pan and turn on some hot water in the faucet. I rinse it out with hot water by swishing it about before pouring it out and refilling the pan. With my pan now about ¾ of the way full of hot water I place it on an eye and set the heat on high to let it start to boil.

While that is heating up I get me three tea bags out and remove them carefully from their wrappers. Placing them into a neat stack I collect their strings and lift the bundle by their tags. Holding those tags I begin to flick the bags themselves into a spin, allowing the strings to entwine until they form one tight strand almost like a braid. I then proceed to take the twisted length of string and tie a quick knot somewhere near its middle before sitting it atop the tea bag wrappers.

Once the pan has come to a good strong boil I hang the tea bags over it by grasping their tags and dip them in. Dragging them in a few circuits I circle them about allowing them to sink in and then wrap the trailing string around the pan’s handle. At this point I generally reduce my heat as well down to around medium or just bellow.

I allow the tea to continue to boil for the next 3 minutes, and take the time to place two cups of sugar into the bottom of a gallon pitcher along with a long handled spoon. Once those 3 minutes are up I remove the pan from the heat (making sure to turn it off mind you, safety first) and allow it to steep for about 5 minutes.

After those 5 minutes are up I then unwrap my tea bag’s tie off and lift them just over the top of the liquid. By this point my twisted bundle typically begins to start to spin while the swollen sacks drip dark fluid. Patiently I wait for the steady drip to slow until it becomes almost non-existent before I remove the tea bags and relocate them into the trash can.

The still quasi-hot liquid is then poured ever so carefully into the pitcher where it is stirred to mix with the sugar. Cold water is added to the pan and dumped into the pitcher before I place the pitcher directly beneath the faucet or continue to ferry water with the pan. In fairly short order the pitcher is filled and the stirring slows to a stop, leaving the only remaining necessities being a lid and storage in the fridge.

Now, I can honestly admit that my tea making technique is not the one on the side of the box. Nor is it the precise method my mother taught me regarding how to make it. I could explain away every reason behind some of my various steps (like the twisting and spinning of the strings to prevent hunting around for individual strands or how it helps me spin out the bags afterwards) but then I could be at this all day I am afraid.

There are countless other ways to make tea; possibly you’d find new ones being developed every day. And, for the record, my way doesn’t make my tea any better than another’s. You could even argue that my tea making technique has virtually zero impact on the end result. But for me it makes sense, it works and it is how I always do it. If I watch someone else I puzzle over their own process. I won’t deny I may occasionally offer advice or mention how I do it differently.

But despite how you do it, or the way you think about such things the truth is tea is still made. We all have our ways, our methods and each one of us looks at things differently. You may plan out your story one way or start a project in a manner alternative to another. But we all end up with some result. My way might work well for me but not for you, doesn’t make it better or worse – just different.

Kind of like how we all are.