Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Letting tea play

If you are reading this shortly after I have posted it, and it is evening, do take a look at the milad moon.

A week of valentines, grammy awards, nichiren daishonin's and worldtech's birthdays, milad un nabi, and minimalist for gmail as we get over our frustration at the last post which taught us how to make a good cup of tea.  This time we discuss things that can be played with.  No, not plastic inflatables, but stuff a shade less serious like time, temperature, type of water, additives like sugar, or herbs.


But first a great menu for Kerala style chicken.  This beats anything else I know hollow, and no, it is not the Utupura recipe. Yes this post is still about brewing tea.



My adventures in stripping the gmail and google calendar interfaces continue.  Now I do not have ads, wasted space, unused menus, utilities and buttons and icons, my headers and footers are all but nonexistent, the essential ones reduced to a mouseover.  You can read what I do to save monitor footprint, pixel drain, and distraction components in my productivity method.  Someday many more people will do this.  (The fact that I spend much time looking for things that should have been there but aren't is to be please overlooked.)

Valentines day came on a Monday and was a disappointment when compared to earlier year consumer spend, largely because of it being a Monday and probably also because most wallets are drained out buying Bryan Adams tickets at ridiculous rates.   Though Delhi failed to happen, Hyderabad is rocking as I write.

Tea.  Time.  Surrender.  Appreciation and gratitude.  Transmission of life force and wisdom.  I have gone as low as one minute, or a little more than that on several teas over the years, and I dont need to tell you what 15 to 25 minutes does for milder blacks, and for stuff like chamomile, or for a second brew of sweet oolong, 20 to 30 minutes.

Be present to your tea as it brews.  Tea is largely happy to keep to itself.  But in the ritual of imbibing what the leaf has to offer, being an involved participant in the brewing sets the ground for a deeper dialog.

Water.  I use tap water much of the time except when it gets too chlorine-y.  I use mineral water when that happens, as also on special occasions (morning cup, afternoon cup, bedtime tisane, or visitors), since tea is not something I want to take chances with just because of the water.  For tap water, depending on your kitchen plumbing and exterior piping from the tank, allow the water that has stood in the pipe to run out before drawing your water.  That way you get maximum oxygenated water.

Temperature, my rule of thumb is to let it boil, turning the oven off just as the water decides it wants to bubble.  However, many teas respond favorably to a hot dunk (at temps just at or over boiling), and actually do badly with just under boiling temp water.  Do test your teas out for temp on second brews too.  Some teas explode with the aromatic oils when boiling water is added to cool steeped leaf.  I find it mostly with oolongs, but muscatels also do the same thing, like an LSD flashback of rains hitting dry Nilgiri rocky clay on a June evening.

Of course, you can add additives, but I abstain.  Sugar, milk, herbs, are all acceptable, depending on taste and preferences.  I like honey, I like lime and ginger.  I used to like Pamela Anderson when I was much younger.  These days I am liking the mornings.


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