I’ll level with you – the last couple of months have been really boring. Not a whole lot to do around here but sneeze through spring, though things are looking up as the weather warms. It even stopped raining long enough to fix (most of) our fence. But if you’re wondering what I’ve been up to since the last time I posted, the answer is tea. Obsessing over tea. OOT.
I replaced my coveted Mr. Tea Iced Tea maker that my husband just got me for Christmas with an electric tea kettle, after I decided the automated tea maker was over-steeping the tea. As you can see in the video below, the hot water spurts out over the tea leaves, then drips down into the pitcher. The water is always the same temperature, no matter the type of tea, and I would never brew even the strongest of black teas more than three minutes, whereas it takes about ten minutes for the Mr. Tea to finish its job.
In case you’re wondering, and I’m sure many of you are not, my OOT research over the last year or so has led me to the knowledge that some teas (particularly green) are more delicate than others, and brewing them too hot or too long will cause the naturally occurring and otherwise beneficial tea tannins to impart a bitter flavor in your drink.
The space-age electric kettle I bought, complete with alien-blue light, has six temperature buttons for steeping different types of teas. In the short time I’ve owned this device, I’ve developed a fondness for brewing one setting below the recommended temperature.
So I love my electric kettle, but it has thrown a few new wrenches into my tea making process. First of all, now I need a tea steeper. I ordered two large metal tea steepers online, both of which let tea leaves seep out into the water. That’s a mortal sin in the land of tea snobs. I had better luck with large fillable tea filters, but it seems wasteful. When I found this teapot online, I sent my husband on a Friday night mission to find it for Mother’s day, which was the following Sunday. All credit it to him, he came up with a decent replica, but the plastic tea steeper let loose too many leaves. I realized that the mechanism in the tea kettle was exactly the same as a French Press, and wouldn’t you know it, we already owned a French press. Brewing the tea loose in a French press is really fun to watch and it turns out good too. I’m just not sure that storing it in the fridge with the tea still inside is recommended, and pouring it into a different pitcher creates too many dishes.
I stumbled upon this teapot today for a mere six bucks, and I think I’ll keep it. The metal steeper (not shown) does a decent job of keeping leaves in and the pot itself is glass.
As a side note, someone bestowed upon me some darjeeling tea and it quickly became a favorite of mine. It steeps in just about a minute and is nice and smooth. However in my head, whenever I am brewing it, I have to call it “that fucking black darjeeling” which is a line from the wonderfully curse-laden Deadwood.
I must mention one other thing that drove my recent rash of OOT research. Why I asked myself, after the tea spent a day or two in the fridge, did it seemingly turn sweeter? By complete chance I read a Facebook thread that informed me of something called tea mold. Apparently, tea is not meant for long-term storage. It is also sensitive and can pick up odors from the refrigerator. Thus I decided to make half pitchers twice as often. My favorite part of drinking tea is when you pour the boiling (or otherwise appropriately hot) tea over a glass full of ice and the first sip is slightly warm. Mmm. Half the amount means twice the first sips.
Sadly, I’m still not done obsessing. Tea simply lends itself to the fussings of an obsessive personality. It’s hard to get it to come out the exact same way every time – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been served over-brewed tea at restaurants. But hey, if you’re just going to throw a bunch of sugar in there, I guess you don’t have to be quite as picky. Me, I’ll continue striving for perfection. Maybe one day I’ll realize it’s not achievable, throw up my hands in disgust and never drink tea again. In the meantime, I seriously think I’m closing in on the perfect cup of tea.