Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tea Revolution!

I kept this article from the Australian as I really liked the way it was written and I'm rather a fan of Bernard Salt.  I can't say I feel quite so strongly against coffee drinkers (being an occasional imbiber myself) but I agree with the sentiment.  I have even been to places that charge me more for a cup of tea than they charge for a fancy coffee!  The nerve!

Tea drinkers must rise up against the coffee-swilling elite

Do you know what I can't stand?

Coffee drinkers.  You may scoff, but tea drinkers such as me are sick of being treated as second-class citizens by the coffee elite.  There I am, waiting in line to be served at a Collins Street cafe and the person in front order coffee.  How long does it take to make a cup of coffee?

Coffee-making is a ritual that demands the attention of everyone within earshot.  It's not so much the tedious ordering but the preparation.  It starts with two thumping bangs on the bench rather like a judge hitting his gavel to signal the start of the proceedings.  This is followed by swishing and swooshing.  And it doesn't end until the barista carves what I am sure is a pagan design on the froth.

All the while everyone in the queue must stand in reverential silence, watching and waiting.  This is just the way coffee drinkers like it:  They are at the centre of all this commotion.  It's all done for them, to satisfy their need, their desire -- no, their shameless lust -- for coffee.

For coffee drinkers, it's all about me.  Look at me.  I'm a coffee drinker and I'm ordering a coffee that takes a long time and a lot of noise to prepare.  Did you know that coffee has mystical powers?  If a coffee drinker drinks a "sophisticated coffee", then they think that coffee has the power to make them more sophisticated.  It's a bit sad, really.  All too often coffee drinkers think they're, you know, a bit lah-de-dah.  Well, they're not.

Do you know, coffee drinkers, that the only reason no one has ever told you this before is because we tea people are too polite.  That's right.  We are so well mannered that we don't want to create a scene.  Well, not any more.  I'm calling on tea drinkers everywhere to take their rightful place in the beverage hierarchy.

Never heard of the beverage hierarchy?  Well, that's probably because you're a coffee drinker.  Only tea people know about the beverage hierarchy.  At the pinnacle of this drinks pyramid is the red wine drinker.  And as you've probably guessed, I also don't drink red wine.  I am doubly damned.  You want proof of the existence of a beverage hierarchy?  There I am on a plane bumped into business, where the flight attendants offer wine with the meal.  The attendants smile; the red wine drinkers smile; they have a cosy discussion about wine; they titter and they tatter in a red wine-colluding sort of way.  I am on the outer; I can only observe from afar this beverage bonding between waiter and waited-upon.

I am offered red wine but reject it.  I am offered white wine but reject it.  I am offered coffee but reject it.  Finally I am offered tea.  But by the time I am offered tea the red wine guy has been topped up.  Here is the beverage hierarchy writ large.  Red wine guy gets seconds before tea person gets firsts.  Back at the Collins Street cafe and finally it's my turn to order.  "Black tea, please."  And as soon as the word "tea" falls from my lips I know what the barista is thinking.  He's thinking, "what is a tea drinker doing sullying the tone of my coffee queue?"  Not that he says that, but I know he's thinking exactly that.

And when the barista gets my tea, he puts a tea bag beside a cup of hot water on a plate and says "$4, thanks".  Four dollars?  Four dollar!  But you just charged that coffee drinker $4 for a hand-crafted froth-designed latte that took two minutes to prepare.

Then it dawned on me.  My tea-drinking simplicity, taking all of 30 seconds to prepare, is cross-subsidising the coffee elite's designer beverages: part of my $4 pays for the production costs of fancy-pants coffee.

As you can imagine, this injustice rankles with tea drinkers everywhere.  But not all tea drinkers share my outrage.  Apparently there are some people who drink tea at home but coffee when out.  This is very sad.  Clearly so opposed are some tea drinkers that they feel compelled to live a double life.  Come out, tea drinkers, and be proud of your beverage orientation.

I have a dream.  I dream of a time when tea drinkers get served before red wine drinkers get top-ups.  I dream of a time when cafes charge for the time it takes to prepare hot drinks.  And I dream of a time when coffee is prepared without thumping and swooshing.  Because if coffee was prepared in silence, as for tea, then coffee would cease to have appeal to those who clearly like to be at the centre of attention.

The Australia, 18 November 2010

What are your thoughts?

Monday, September 19, 2011

I'm a little (shortbread) teapot!

I saw these little darling in T2 and I just couldn't help myself!

So on the weekend, I decided to put them to good use making shortbread!  The recipe and how-to are here.

I used the middle sized one for most of them and did a couple of larger ones (see three from the top on the left) for my husband.  They are just perfect!

Today's morning cuppa has never looked better!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Tea Revolution - it's brewing

I found this article in the Easter Weekend Sydney Morning Herald this year and I torn it out.  I promptly stashed it somewhere and forgot about it until I was doing a little tidying on the weekend and up it popped!

Tea Revolution - it's brewing
By Sue Bennett

A cup of tea.  In my grandma's day, it was such a simple thing - tea, boiling water, milk and sugar.

Whatever happened?  Today we have tea to pick you up, tea to bring you down, teas with a "bombshell" of health benefits, tea as a digestive and tea to send you to sleep.

There's a Tetley tea especially for soy "milk" drinkers (a zingy high-grown Kenyan little number) and Twinings is bringing out an Australian Blend.

Boutique producer T2 goes one better with teas that recognise state border: Brisbane Breakfast is happy, bright and tropical with a "teeny touch" of sunny mango; Melbourne Breakfast is worthy of a rich infusion; Sydney Breakfast is "lively and vivacious", a blend of orthodox leaf tea (let me read that again... orthodox leaf tea?).  This cheeky little brew "captures the sunny optimism of a Sydney morning".

Tea description are worthy of the finest wines.  Teas can be full-bodied , earthy with a hint of mushroom, aromatic and fragrant with a lingering hint of honey.

Some teas are so rare and expensive, buyers have their names on waiting lists for years and are prepared to pay astronomical prices.  In 2002, 20 grams of Da Hong Pao, or Big Red Robe, from Wuyi in China sold for $23,000.

Yet tea doesn't have any of the cachet of coffee in contemporary life.  There are coffee carts and bars on every corner and an almost indecipherable language to non-drinkers, like double shot, skinny soy latter.

Tea drinkers are reduced to an often paltry selection in restaurants and cafes.  They all do English Breakfast - the adopted term for regular tea - but it can be hit and miss with other blends and flavours.

And let's not talk about tea preparation.

Textbooks are written about barista training.  These masters of the coffee machine traverse the globe with their skills and compete for coveted awards.  A tea maker in an Australian cafe or restaurant simple needs the ability to turn the kettle on.

But take a walk down the supermarket tea aisle to see a vast, and ever expanding, array of brands, flavours and hinted health benefits.

While we leave the house in search of a coffee, tea drinking is all about home.  It's about snuggling down with a good book, giving healthy living a kick or sharing a brew with a friend.  For those completely sucked in, those scenarios require teas to soothe, detox and invigorate.  They are all there.  But the beauty is the preparation.  At home, it's down just how we like it in our own kitchen.

Maybe not for much longer.  New York has discovered the tea salon.  It can't be long before it crosses the Pacific. 

A girl can wish!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Raspberry Rush

I tried a new tea last weekend.

I have been really into raspberries lately.  They are so tasty and pretty and they have the lovely tart but sweet flavour.  Shame they are so expensive!

I am always on the look out for some on sale so I can snap them up and enjoy them straight from the box as a guilty pleasure.

Anyway, I was sniffing my way around the samples at my local T2 the other week and I came upon their Raspberry Rush tea.

It is a black tea with raspberry and it has such a divine smell!

I was due to visit the new T2 Tea House (see post of 13 July 2011) with one of my best friends so when we headed in, I ordered myself a pot.

The smell was like fresh baked raspberry muffins!  It was strong, like it could permeate your kitchen if left for long enough.

The taste was different however.  It tasted like fresh raspberries.  Like the ones I sneak directly from the punnet.  The taste was subtle.  There was also an apple flavour.  A bit like the apple and raspberry juice you can buy.

I tried it with and without milk and without was definitely better.

It would be fantastic as an iced tea with some fresh mint leaves and lots of ice cubes.  Will have to pick some up when the warmer months roll in.

For now, I'm thinking some raspberry muffins are actually not a bad idea...