Sunday, February 10, 2013
Tea in the clouds
Our house sits at an elevation of 1347 metres – that’s ten feet closer to the clouds than the top of Ben Nevis, so obviously, living here is not the same as on the cool temperate plains of the New Forest. Water boils at only 95C so; a proper cup of tea is hard to make, you have to wait an extra three minutes for your pasta to cook, and the bread machine bakes loaves the density of a hockey puck.
It’s the tea issue that’s toughest to handle. We like our tea – a lot. In North America the term “tea” covers herbal teas, tisanes, and the ubiquitous but truly awful, orange pekoe. Notice the absence of real black tea. Most supermarkets will sell you a lavishly packaged box of forty English Breakfast teabags for eight dollars, but the contents seem to be the sweepings off the factory floor after the real bags have been made – for the English. You need two or three bags to make one cup of tea with any flavour.
My mum ships regular care packages of Essential Waitrose Original Blend tea bags. We and our friends return from trips to the UK with luggage full of contraband Yorkshire Tea. We have the raw materials, and our well produces nice, clean, hard water. We warm the mugs, make sure the kettle achieves a rolling boil, steep longer than recommended but not so long that it stews, but still, because of that missing five Celsius, tea is just not the same here.