Hope’s boyfriend gave her a mug that said “It’s Mother Fucking Tea Time” for one of their anniversaries.
I promptly told her to keep him forever.
Tea is a way of life. I’m not picky – hot or cold, milky British tea, sweet Southern tea with lemon… it’s all delicious goodness. It’s down home nights in a rocking chair and humidity in the air. It’s foggy days curled up with a book. It’s pretentious tea sets and delicate pastries with fancy hats. When you’re sick you make tea. Someone’s crying? Make tea. Too thirsty for soda, but water’s just nasty? You guessed, it- tea.
As you can probably imagine, I’m not a coffee person. It turns my stomach and smells better than it could ever taste. Sadly most of America disagrees with me, and finding a decent cup of tea here is about as easy as getting good customer service in the UK. Starbucks Tazo tea doesn’t count. That swill is NOT tea. It’s bitter, over boiled, and double bagged. No thank you.
I maintain that if you want a good cup of tea, make it yourself. Admittedly I am that weirdo who carries bags of Twinning’s Irish Breakfast, English Breakfast, and Earl Grey in my purse (yes all three, a girl needs diversity) at all times. Bam- tea to go.
It’s fairly simple, drop the bag in, boil your water in something that has never had coffee filtered through it; do not use the packaged sweeteners, bring your own sugar; and for the love of all things holy, don’t use the non-dairy creamers. Nothing ruins your tea faster than using anything your office pre-stocks to make it. And for God’s sake, use a mug and don’t insult the tea with styrofoam. Oh, and while I’d assume it can go unsaid, best to be clear: take out the bag before you drink it dipshit- nobody likes being tea bagged.
This past year, I’ve discovered the wonder of loose tea. It had scared me for a while as it’s a whole new world of tea rules. How much do I use? How do I know when it’s steeped? Does it have a special temperature the water has to boil? Also do I have to leave the leaves in and divine my future when I’m done? WHAT IF I SEE A GRIM?!
But Adagio had me covered (or Teavana if you don’t mind getting a pretentious lecture while you buy your tea). They have this nifty little do-hicky that makes loose tea making idiot proof. You take a big spoon, scoop your loose tea into the filtered tea maker, pour in your hot water, and wait for the leaves to rise to the top and fall back down again. Once that occurs, stick it on top of your mug and enjoy the auto-filter that keeps those annoying leaves out of your tea and prevents you from having to predict your own death. Add cream and sugar, pair it with scones covered in clotted cream and strawberry jam, and you can practically taste the irony of sitting in The Boston Tea Party in Bath, GB in each sip. (Where I first discovered the wonder of “cream tea.”)
You know what’s even better about tea? You can be as geeky or as pretentious as you want with it. I personally like to be a bit of both. I’d been looking for the perfect tea set for ages. I wanted it to be very British, but without your smelly aunt’s chintz pattern. Naturally, Sherlock solved the problem for me. In the last episode of series two (The Reichenbach Fall), I found my tea set soul mate– a gorgeous Ali Miller collection that has a map of Great Britain that vaguely resembles a Rorschach test, with crowns and sailing ships. It’s weird and it’s wonderful and since it had to be ordered from London, no one else has it.
But what tea do I make in it? Something so ridiculously nerdy I can hardly stand it. However there is no room for shame in tea, so I confess, that again I turn to Adagio. In a genius bit of marketing, Adagio offers what they call “Fandom Blends.” People can mix their own loose tea blends, make fan art covers and sell it on the site. Ever wondered what John Watson or Bilbo Baggins tastes like? (Spoiler, grumpy and cuddly.) Does your morning call for the Doctor? Take your pick of the lot, or any of his companions. I think there’s a fandom tea for everyone, from James Bond to Teen Wolf and everything in between. Some are delicious, some are terrible (please for the love of my teeth stop adding caramel to every tea to represent your OTP’s love for each other!), but they’re all fun. Plus once you’ve tried these blends, normal tea is just boring. Some of my favorites are Irish Breakfast, Earl Grey Green, and Cinnamon; Irish Breakfast, berry, and Rooibos Vanilla Chai; and Earl Grey Moonlight, Rooibos Vanilla Chai, and Gunpowder (though pretty much anything by Cara McGee is delicious [and slashy]).
The moral is, you don’t have to be the Queen of England to drink hot tea, nor do you have to be Scarlett O’Hara to sip a cool glass of sweet tea.
You just have to hate coffee.
Now what are you waiting for? Go make a mother fucking cup of tea.
Tweet me @Tea_Imperialist and tell me your favorite brew.