Friday, October 29, 2010

Careful! Contents may be hot

Happy Friday. This absolutely cracked me up.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tuesday tea tunes: Tea means peace

I love this weary little tune about a romantic quarrel — "Harvard Hands" by the Foxymorons — simply because the singer knows how to make things all better, announcing mid-song, "Baby I can end this fight / A cup of tea will make it right."

Saturday, October 23, 2010

All in all, it's just another (teacup) in the wall

More cool tea design — Teacup Tiles. Nice purely as accents but also functional. Store teaware in the cup, hang keys or freshly cut herbs off the hook.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Today's pu-erh moment, aerial view

Just a photo of today's pu-erh moment, with my yixing pot in its silk cozy.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tuesday tea tunes: The sounds of Ceylon

A tea pal once joked that the lyrics to Simon & Garfunkel's classic "Bridge Over Troubled Water" should have been: "Ceylon, silver girl ..." With that idea planted, enjoy the tune anew, and may the water in your kettle never be troubled ...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tea = mc2

Yesterday, as I gazed out the sunroom window, I finished the last of some Grey Dragon oolong. I'm not one to filter my cups, so mine had developed some lovely leafy sediment. As I set the cup on the table and watched the leaves stir, then sink, then settle neatly in the bottom of the cup, I remembered Einstein's tea leaf paradox. Why do they always settle in the center? Einstein figured it out.

For kicks, I grabbed my copy of Tea Leaf Reading and had a go. Oolong's not the best tea to read, especially with leaves this large. I thought mine looked like letters, actually: a T and an I. Letters, so says the highland seer, signify news. Well, T.I. did just get sent back to jail ...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Nifty tea mug for tea bag users

I love good tea design, and the folks at Yanko rarely disappoint. Dig this handy mug — with a notch for the tea bag string (keeps the tag from slipping into the tea) plus a hollow, shallow bottom under the mug and over the saucer (thus the name, the Tea Coffin) for stashing the bag once the tea has brewed ...

Check out the whole page of photos, which includes a few shots of a nifty kettle/carafe. Available in December.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

When it comes to kettles, I've gone electric

I have retired my tea kettle.

My acoustic one, anyway. I've gone electric.

I'd grown weary of the stove top, particularly since I recently packed my tea cabinet with some good oolongs. The gas fire boils the water just fine, but how to reach 190 degrees? I tried it from both sides. I stuck a thermometer in the kettle's whistle-hole, and watched and watched and ... doh! I always got distracted and missed the 190 mark. Or I'd bring it to full boil, then use an iPhone app to time the cool-down. But those are always estimates, never precise.

So after reading this story in Wired a couple of months ago, I went fishing for electric kettles. Wired tested four and picked the Cuisinart PerfecTemp Cordless Programmable Kettle. After my own research, their decision sounded great. I pounced. And it's awesome.

The Cuisinart kettle is magnificent for all these reasons:
  • It's blazing fast. I've had to alter my whole teatime prep schedule around it, since I'm used to waiting and waiting for the stove.
  • It brings water to six preset temperatures: 160 (delicate), 175 (green), 185 (white), 190 (oolong), 200 (french press) and boiling (black). It seems to be remarkably accurate.
  • It holds the selected temperature for 30 minutes. This is a dream. It keeps the water hot while you do other things. Also, if you're hosting a tasting, you can move quickly from tea to tea without waiting so long for the kettle.
  • Super simple to use, with illuminated buttons and an illuminated window for measuring water amount.
  • And it's not bad looking on the countertop. Nicely designed.

Wired noted one drawback: "Tough to get your hand inside for a good scrubbing." The lid is prohibitive. But, using filtered water, I haven't had much to worry about yet.

And, of course, I do miss the music. But I can whistle my own tune.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tuesday tea tunes: 3 little maids from the tea field

Just as great song emerged from the cotton field workers of the southern United States, songs were created in the old tea fields, too. Here's a Japanese one called "Cha-Tsumi" (Tea Picking) that finds the singer imploring fellow pickers: "Pick all you can, young maids, for if you / do not, we Japanese will have no tea!"

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Hottle is nottle a good idea

Gaze upon this instrument of torture, fellow tea lovers, and band together with me to eradicate this scourge from our dining and tea-sipping experience!

Tell me I'm not alone. Tell me you hate these things, too — the small, bulbous glass carafes used in restaurants and particularly hotels to deliver refills and (shudder) tea and coffee. Do you know what's called? Restaurant supply stores label it a Hottle, a mutant combo bottle that allegedly keeps liquids hot. The ribbed, black plastic neck allows you to pour hot liquids without scalding. No doubt it's easier to wash than a teapot.

I'm just on a tear because a lovely new restaurant has opened in our 'hood, and they use Hottles to serve tea. They might be convenient in the kitchen, but they're pretty horrible for tea service. You have to cram a bag down that plastic gullet, and stir it in. The glass doesn't keep the water hot at all. Pouring from that wide mouth results in dribbling every single time, poured slowly or quickly. I'm going to have to speak to the owners, give them some better suggestions. I'm just going to have to be that guy.

But, as a recent T Ching post says, I'm willing to demand better tea service! Who's with me?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tuesday tea tunes: Tea with a supergroup

Like Pioneers is a good new band built from several old ones. The Bound Stems, Chin Up Chin Up, the Narrator and others — these were acclaimed Chicago bands. Now members from each of them have come together as Like Pioneers. The debut album, "Piecemeal," is a rewarding batch of thoughtful pop-rock.

For today's track, "Teakettles, No. 1," click here to listen and/or download. It's a moody tune driven by a plucky pump organ.

Friday, October 1, 2010

CSI: Darjeeling

We love Laura Childs' teashop murder mysteries here at t2. While those stories are bloody good fun, it seems a cup of tea sometimes is found at real-life crime scenes. Here's a round-up of recent incidents where things boiled over ...

A British woman becomes annoyed with her companion, so she puts bleach in his tea. She was jailed on a charge of "maliciously administering a poison or noxious thing with intent to injure, aggrieve or annoy." The man is standing by her.

This man was arrested for chucking his cup of tea at his wife.

British prisoners may have poisoned the tea of two guards.

Enjoying your tea at a shop near a busy street? Maybe don't sit next to the window.

Two women stole several cases of bottled iced tea from a convenience store, then (oops) hit an elderly man with their car while trying to make their getaway.

I know you have to get all that food to the wedding, but why don't you stop for some tea first. Atta boy. ... Uh oh, someone stole your catering van!

We hear about people being scalded by to-go coffee all the time. This to-go tea sent a toddler to the burn center.

This is an oldie, but I'll link it again: A woman shot in the head makes tea for the police when they arrive.