The Perfect cup of Tea: Cheers!

Drinking the pathetic, really morbid tea bag tea (I had run out of my regular Darjeeling tea) I got thinking about the character of a cup of good tea. It’s almost like wine. Sommeliers might go ga ga over their wine, the connoisseur of tea goes equally ecstatic over the perfect full bodied cup of tea.

Tea that has character, has taste, has the quite so perfect colour and aroma. It is not dense and thick but has that exact proportion of water and milk, giving it a texture that is so eminently “sippable” savouring it ever so slowly. You don’t ever gulp down a good cup of tea and so that brings me to the next point. Its best served in a china or ceramic cup, thats the ultimate in luxury.

 The golden reddish brown colour of the tea liquor enhanced with a few drops at the most, of milk, (the purist would frown on that I know) makes for a great cup of tea.

A great cup of tea can lift your mood, herald a good start to your day and not for nothing is there a special period of the day “Teatime” – a time that is devoted to savouring the queen of beverages.

While I might drool over the light flavor of the Darjeeling tea, I am not so fond of either green , jasmine , or other flavored varieties.

 Tea as a former colleague used to say, has to be infused; so the principle of the tea bag ( plunge it into hot water) according to him is “very, very wrong” . Water needs to be infused through tea leaves to lend to it that delicate colour and flavor and that heavenly texture.

And therefore it is pure blasphemy to eat anything heavy, like samosas and pakodas etc. with this cup of tea. Yes, lightly flavoured biscuits maybe Cream crackers go with it, but cream biscuits destroy the tea experience.

One might be so presumptuous as to say that the British, Chinese and Japanese were ‘superior intellects’, developing their unique tea ceremonies to honour and cherish a beverage that deserves every bit of the grandeur associated with these customs. But I guess it’s out of sync in this day and age. The closest we can get to it, is pouring our tea from ceramic teapots enveloped in warm tea cosies.

My tea fetish is reflected in the mementoes that I pick up on my occasional travels. While others hunt for artifacts, I’ve picked up anything associated with tea – like the China clay figurine used to test the temperature of the water for that perfect cup of tea. The Chinese as you know are very particular about their tea. Immerse it in a glass of boiling water and should it “pee” ie bubbles surface then its perfect for the tea. The oolong tea was another expensive prized souvenir from that China trip. Teapots, for me are another much sought after item - the more quaint, the better.

But away from the luxury that one associates with ‘Tea’, there is the grassroot connect of the humble “chai.” This ‘chai’ of late has acquired a political character and avatar of its own. “Chai pe charcha” “chaiwala” are concepts that have helped a political party and its leader establish a direct connect with the masses and catapulted him into office. That I guess should serve as an adequate lesson for those “Tea- totalers” who snigger at the power and daresay for me the “aroma” of Tea.

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