|Tea with milk|
Tea...we drink it by the cup load. We brew it, stew it, stir it, add sugar to it, top it up with milk, dip biscuits in it, spill it, let it go cold, re-heat in the microwave. In essence we Brits have one hell of a love affair for tea. We even named a break at work after it!
It comes in many forms, easy for us to use, in round bags, square bags, pyramid bags, rectangular bags. For our choice there are various blends, flavours and herbal ones too. Then we have our selection of brands from the damn right cheap and tasteless to the blended best such as Earl Grey. Oh then we must not forget that some bags are attached with string and a tab so we do not scald our fingers and thumbs taking the bag out of the cup, and maybe they might have a pull cord so we can squeeze that last little drop from the bag.
Traditionally, there is loose tea...what the hell!!! er yes traditional blended tea! Yep, if you had this or even still do then you never drink the drop in the bottom...because there'll be tea leaves in the bottom of your cuppa and these are meant to be read to forecast your fortune for the day.
Tea is also served in many different shaped and sized cups...big, small and wide in almost bowl like cups, standard white catering cups, fine bone china cups and saucers, tall glass tumblers, mugs the size of pint glasses, normal sized mugs or oversized ones. Ones with chunky handles or ones with dainty handles. Many of these receptacles are decorated, such as to promote your feelings, your age, your habits...
...and judging by our cupboards the humble bone china cup is a minority in many homes.
Our high streets and shopping centres allow us also to purchase a cuppa at well-known cafes and restaurants, be they large chain operators or a local independent offering a varied experience from that "was lovely" to the "aren't coming here again".
We can purchase tea on our transport systems, like on the train to London, where great skill, expertise and a steady hand are required in order not to spill your tea as the train rumbles along. Or on board a ferry to France, when in a force six gale, you wont have much chance of getting to drink your tea on the crest of a wave.
And in all these experiences you invariably have a battle to open little packets of sugar and tiny cartons of milk and, with most, stir it with a long wooden stick...which by then your tea is going cold and stewed beyond your reasoning and taste...and so I ask is there a standard operating procedure (SOP) for making tea??
Believe it or not we have all been on a secret mission to answer this question. We taste, we observe and we perceive to ascertain if our tea has been made accordingly to our mental version of our own SOP for making a cuppa of tea. In asking we will make comments to our family and friends cos there is no doubt that from my experience in that; I do not make it like my son, he does not make it like his sister, I do not make it like my wife and she does not make it like me and when we visit my sister-in-law then it's a case of pot luck and extreme probability if I'd get tea exacting to my taste.
And if round my loving Aunt's then the offering is black and no sugar....vegetarians!!
Yes, all our life no-one and no-place has made the exacting cup of tea. If ever in a café and you happen to see the washer-up wipe their mouth with the tea cloth then I advise you to make an immediate exit for the fear of catching something nasty. And what is the point of that wooden stirrer...it doesn't do what it's meant for anyway. At least all those tiny packets of sugar and milk are a handy supply if you are planning a camping holiday.
The basics are there, put tea bag in cup or pot and add boiled water but the rest of any SOP is a science only known to ourselves. At work many have tried to write down the procedure in health and safety classes and there is no singular procedure...there would always have been one or two of us whom had forget to write down the step of adding boiled water and we be questioned on the need of plugging in the kettle...(common sense?)...maybe not! Then in any debate we would all argue on the correct method in order to promote and protect our own method.
Well I trust I have enlightened you all I am off now to make another cup....God bless you all!