Home Opinion and Features Not everyone’s cuppa tea

Not everyone’s cuppa tea


GREY MUTTER: I am convinced that people are not clones but individuals who like different things and think and do things differently, so we should learn to be more patient and understanding, writes Lance Fredericks.

Picture: Ylanite Koppens, Pixabay

WITH all our modern conveniences, you’d swear that we’d be getting more done these days. However, that’s far from what we are experiencing.

I remember how, back before everyone had microwave ovens and electric stoves, a host would churn out 12 cups of tea for visitors in what seemed like the blink of an eye, after boiling the water and heating the milk on the ol’ Welcome Dover.

It was like all of a sudden a huge tray, with rattling cups and a steaming teapot, would be carried into the room where the company was gathered. This would be followed by the ‘tinkly-tinkly tink-tink-tink’ sound of the tea being stirred. But after that short pause the conversation would carry on full steam.

And when it came to tea for the children, the tea in the teapot had milk and sugar added already – our generation knew how to take and appreciate what we received. And the thing is, some teas would have fresh milk, some condensed milk, and sometimes – though rarely – powdered milk would be added to the ‘junior tea’.

I just learned to accept that different homes would serve different tea, and I was OK with that.

These days, however, things are not quite as simple. The other day a pal of mine was going to make tea for three people. Before he even boiled the water, he had to go into interrogation mode. “Do you prefer a mug or a cup? Do you like your tea extra strong? Should I add an extra bag? Do you take milk in that? Hot or cold? Cow’s milk, oat milk, soy milk or almond milk? Sugar? Honey? Artificial sweetener?”

He threw his hands in the air and laughed at how complicated making a cup of tea has become.

Believe it or not, there is a right way and a wrong way to make tea. But here’s the thing, the so-called ‘experts’ disagree on the correct method. Nowhere could I find that one, agreed-upon tea brewing recipe.

One ‘expert’ suggests that if you want that perfect brew, you need to get out of the habit of reboiling your water. Instead, use your drinking cup to measure out exactly the amount of water you’ll need and boil the kettle with freshly drawn, cold water. If you do this, apparently you’ll have a great tasting oxygenated tea.

Next, keep an eye on the temperature of the water. Green teas are best brewed at a slightly cooler temperature of around 80 degrees, whereas your typical breakfast black tea can handle boiling water.

So how long do you steep the tea? Ag, that’s simple – For normal black tea it’s three to five minutes, green tea takes one to two minutes while white and oolong teas take two to three minutes. Pu-erh tea is five minutes on the dot – not a second more, while purple tea must not be brewed for longer than three minutes. Herbal and Rooibos teas can brew for over five minutes but not less.

Who said it was complicated?

I can see connoisseurs frowning at my suggestions wondering why I didn’t mention that the cup has to be warmed and that at a molecular level, the type of cup or teapot – be that porcelain, china or clay – or the size of your mug will change the taste and experience of your tea.

And then don’t get me started on coffee. I was at an upmarket coffee shop one day, sitting close to the counter and hearing how different people preferred their morning coffees was a learning experience. There were Americanos, Cappuccinos, Espresso Shots, Flat Whites, Lattes, Macchiatos, Mochas as well as Cold Brews, Nitro Cold Brews, Iced Americano, Iced Shaken Espresso, Iced Flat Whites, Iced Lattes and Iced Macchiatos.

I spent more time listening to the orders than the person I was meeting there.

So all this talk of warm and cold beverages convinces me even more that people are not clones but individuals who like different things and think and do things differently.

One example: Everywhere you look these days, people are attached to their cellphones. They can’t walk down the street, sit still for longer than 45 seconds, go to the ‘poop palace’ or even drive a motor vehicle without using or at least looking at their smartphones.

Therefore – seeing as it is assumed and accepted that ‘everybody’ is holding their phones all the time – it seems to be expected that when a text message is sent or a phone call is made that the recipient is under obligation to respond immediately.

But I have observed some other strange behaviour … Did you know that there are some people who – prepare to be shocked – actually put their cellphones down and forget about it for a while? Sometimes a few minutes, or an hour or more, or even a few days. Yes, believe it or not there are still people who are not screen zombies.

And although many would agree that it is healthy to walk away from one’s device from time to time, yet there are still those who give people the third degree for not answering their phones immediately, or for not responding to texts after the tell-tale blue ticks have appeared.

“Why don’t you answer your phone?” or “Why do you not respond to my messages” is the new way of starting many phone calls these days.

And don’t get me started on those daily picture messages or video clips. I admit that the sentiments on them can be cute and heart-warming, or even funny, but surely there’s a limit to how many and how often they should be sent and received.

Truth be told, I am growing quite weary of being online all the time. It’s not quite my cuppa tea.

Speaking of which, I think it’s time to warm one cup of water to exactly 80 degrees or 100 degrees and find my favourite mug or cup and prepare to steep a bag or loose leaf tea for three, five, two or six minutes as our city prepares for one of the departing winter’s last ‘cool snaps’.

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