Friendship Tea: Rules For a Proper Brew

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Come in and let the sound of harps playing transport you to a more genteel era!  It’s teatime again, and I hope you enjoy the taste of everything I’ve turned out.

As the quote above states, you never know when a friendship will form.  You might click with someone you work with, meet a like-thinker on the internet, or enjoy the humor of an acquaintance so much you bond in an instant.

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A former coworker cemented our relationship over tea.  My friend hailed from Kent, England, and shared some startling news with me.  “Do you warm your pot?” she asked with a serious tone.  Uh, no, I had never heard of warming my pot.  “How about the cup?  You must warm your cup!  Some even insist on warming their saucer,” she informed me, lowering her voice to a whisper.  My associate dipped her chin and gazed at me over tortoise shell eyeglass frames.  I felt as if let in on a huge conspiracy kept hidden from the common American for decades, if not centuries.

We agreed, pouring scalding water in a saucer went too far.  Who wants liquid dripping from the bottom of their cup as they sip their tea?  She explained that to make a proper cup, the pot must be heated first with near boiling water from your kettle (Don’t allow it to whistle!).  Pop the lid on, then pour more hot water into each cup, swirl and empty.   Discard the warming H20 from the pot and commence brewing your tea.  All the while, being careful to keep the water on the stove from boiling.  This all seemed like quite the juggling act!

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Experts believe the ideal water temperature for most types of tea (white, green, Oolong, & black) is below boiling.  The exact degree varies depending on what kind of leaf you brew, but I play it safe by removing the kettle as soon as I hear the familiar rumble that says steam bubbles are forming.  Herbal infusions require boiling water, but even here I’m conservative and turn off the heat before a roaring boil begins.

To make matters more complicated, there is also a two pot method of brewing tea (I’m not going to even touch the heated cups measuring technique!).  One teapot is for steeping, then the liquid is strained into a second pot (already warmed) for serving.  This prevents the leaves from releasing too much tannin.  I prefer to utilize an infuser and remove the leaves once I’m happy with the brew’s strength.  The same is true when I use tea bags.

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So, do I warm my pot and cups?  Sometimes, depending on the clock and how busy I am.  Today, I did.  Give it a try (you don’t need to fill the pot to the brim, add just enough water to heat the vessel) and see if it makes a difference in your cuppa!

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Can I pour you another cup of raspberry tea?  It’s delicious, isn’t it?  Try an éclair.  I believe they’re just as good as homemade.

I’ve kept things simple today with mini steak rolls filled with a chive and parsley mixture, cocktail cucumbers stuffed with ham salad, and colorful fruit kabobs.  Butter cookies and tiny éclairs from my grocer’s freezer department serve as sweets.  I’ve paper nosegays for each guest to take home, wrapped in vintage lace hankies which can be used as napkins, or serviettes for those not from the States.  My colleague from Kent would laugh at my word choice.

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Tips

I found small steaks, already cooked and sliced, in my big box store.  I mixed softened cream cheese with chopped fresh chives and parsley, spread on the meat, then wrapped into a roll.  The herbs add a wonderful bright taste.

For the stuffed cocktail cucumbers, I scooped out the vegetables with a small spoon (after slicing one end to make a flat surface).  Save the top of each cucumber for the “lid”, then load with the ham salad and add the cap.  These small vegetable treats provide a novel, clean pop of flavor.  The contrast between the fluffy ham salad and crisp veggie makes for a delightful bite.

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A pretty ruffled pink ribbon ties each napkin (serviette) bundle — a girly touch.  Fresh flowers in miniature silver vases add to the genteel feel of this tea, as does the lace tablecloth.

Thank you for sharing this time with me.  I hope you’ll pop by again next week!

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COPYRIGHT 2016. VICTORIA BENCHLEY ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

6 thoughts on “Friendship Tea: Rules For a Proper Brew

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