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| Chris Arnold
I work as a hospital chaplain here in Oakland California, a city which has its problems. I am also a British ex-pat, although I've been living here since I was 8 so I've lost the accent, unfortunately. I'll have you know that very early this morning I was robbed of my wallet by two gun-wielding men. Physically I'm fine. Emotionally I'm a bit wobbly. I'm currently following my mum's advice, which is that I have a nice cup of tea and a sit down. This, naturally, made me think of you.
Now, she said that the rules are that when tea is administered for a crisis, it is properly to be sweetened, even when not normally consumed this way. Is this a protocol with which you are familiar? (I take milk, and PG Tips is my bog-standard brand)
Wishing you a gun-free day,
|Nicey replies: Chris,
Yes indeed people in shock get given sweet tea whether they want it or not, that is the British way. Either it will fortify and comfort you, or if you find yourself struggling to drink the unaccustomedly sweetened brew at least its taking your mind off the matter at hand.
Chin up. At least that San Andreas fault thingy across the bay has gone off recently, that could really ruin your day.
||Wonderful site - but has making tea really come to this? A tea bag? Dreadful. For instructions on "real tea" (in the same manner as "real ale") please visit our tea page|
Also a tea quiz - see link at bottom of page.
Keep up the good work.
Philip & Catheryn
|Nicey replies: Philip,
Whilst I'm very pleased to use at least four of our tea icons to go along with your mail, I would urge restraint on your part and not to descend into full blown tea fascism. A live and let live attitude is the enlightened path unless of course you are having to drink somebody else's ropey tea, then its all right to have a go especially if you are having to pay for it.
One pound forty on the P&O Dover Calais ferry for half a cup of warm water drizzled over a one cup bag with a small plastic pot of milk, now that's something to get upset about. These vessels are now effectively the very edge of British tea culture. Leaving our shores they are the last chance for a cuppa in a place that should recognise the significance of such a thing. They are also a welcoming sight for the weary travelling Brit and should be a stronghold and embodiment of mass tea provision, in a way that we can be both grateful for and proud of.
Of dear you appear to have set me off on one now.
||Hi Nicey and Wifey,|
I bought the book from Ottokars and keep randomly dipping into it for my amusement. I did not see the name of Gray Dunn with caramel wafers but my reading method might have skipped over it. I think they did a popular advertising campaign on TV at least ten years ago. Not that I like them any more than cardboard/Rivita. I endorse the assessment of the fig biscuits, they are some kind of perfection but they can go rock hard if not kept properly in a sealed biscuit tin. They don't normally last long enough to find that out.
It would be interesting to know what your readers use for biscuit tins. I have an old round one with a flower pattern on the lid but I also keep them in a modern sealable plastic container. I hear you screaming the word 'sacrilege'. I also have an old chromed biscuit barrel that I think goes back to my parents' wedding day in 1947. It has an inner container, like a little bucket, but does not hold a sufficient quantity of biscuits and it does not feel right to separate them into two places.
I hope that you don't mind but I have attached a photo of our workplace brewing area, exactly as it is every day, with its industrial teapot and messy fridge below. Mine is the KitKat mug. Note the rusty spoon and build-up of tannin in the teapot. The cleaning lady is under very strict instructions NEVER to clean the insides of the teapot. We always think it keeps the tea away from the metal and, anyway, it is probably bad luck if someone cleans it out. Out of the picture, there is a box of 100 Tetley teabags from the 'pound shop'.
The custard picture from your website is now my computer background picture. Yum!
Keep up the good work. I am enjoying the book.
|Nicey replies: Hello Jack,
That's a wonderful photo of tea making equipment, just the sort of thing I was after when I took the photos for the book. I like the brown tray underneath it all too and the reflections in the kettle. The teapot is glorious, I'm particularly impressed with the black wire handle over the spout to aid pouring. I'm also enjoying the old 10Base2 networking points behind the fridge.
Sadly we were informed a while back that Grey Dunn ceased trading in 2001 so I suppose I should really put an entry up or them in the missing in action section.
||Good afternoon--I was just reading your feedback page and found a complaint from "Marge" to the effect that the iced tea she had in Paris was vile and bitter. Quite possibly true, but it's a really bad idea to drink iced tea in France anyway, where, I am told, they have neither hot-tea experts (Britain) nor iced-tea experts (southern U.S.).|
As a Northerner transplanted to Virginia, I have never been able to develop a fondness for the classic Southern iced tea, a.k.a. "the table wine of the South". Some might describe it as vile, but certainly not bitter, as the amount of sugar dissolved in it makes it very nearly thick enough to pour on your pancakes--but my in-laws drink the stuff by the gallon. However, without the sugar (my personal preference) or at least without quite so much sugar, it does make a very refreshing cold drink in this weather. Perhaps the reason you think of it as "muck" is that you haven't tried it when it was properly prepared.
My favorite method is Sun Tea. Take a clear glass gallon jar with a lid, fill it with fresh cold water, and add an appropriate number of your favorite variety of tea bags (if one tea bag makes one 10-oz. cup, that should be 12 or 13 bags). Then put on the lid and set the jar outside in a sunny spot for at least three hours, but no longer than four. Bring it inside, squeeze out the bags, stir in sugar to taste (none, for me) and serve in a tall glass over ice. Refrigerate the leftovers. And Marge, please do try it this way before you take Nicey's word for its being muck.
You'll be glad to know that I do drink hot tea also--and lots of it, here at work where the air-conditioning gets positively Arctic sometimes. With sugar, and my favorite is Earl Grey. As for spoons, there are some coffee-flavored tablespoons lying around in the break room, but I prefer my own iced-tea spoon (like an ordinary teaspoon, stainless steel and tough enough to resist a good squeeze, except that it has a long handle) which I carry on my person at all times, as our local eateries can't be depended upon to provide a good one. Plastic spoons and plastic or wooden stirring sticks are for the birds. How are you supposed to pick up a spoonful of the tea on a stirring stick, when you want to see if all the sugar has dissolved?
I've been enjoying your website very much, and your biscuit descriptions are making me salivate like mad. How about e-mailing me some? (the biscuits, not the descriptions)--Margaret
|Nicey replies: Margret,
You have covered a lot of ground there. Thanks for the description on how to make gallons of tea using sunshine and ice cubes. Of course we remain resolutely unconvinced but good on you for having a go at dissuading us.
New product alert! The Teastick appears to be the perfect synthesis of tea leaves and spoon.
It's one of those things that I've got an incredible amount of admiration for, yet absolutely no intention of buying.
|Nicey replies: Stuff like that mildly annoys me.|