Thursday, September 4, 2014

Do's, don'ts: going out, staying in

An acquaintance writes for Chicagoist and pointed me to this link, a story about how restaurants ruin a simple cup of tea.

One can read this as ever-so justified invective against careless restauranteurs, but one can also take much from its list for our own personal prep. The egregious errors ticked off in the story are as important to be cognizant of at home.

The water temperature issue — burning the tea — is easily managed, though so few do. Green and whites benefit from cooler water. If you don't have an electric kettle that delivers just the right temp, a simple thermometer can set your water straight. I fell in love with a coffee shop on campus not only because they have pretty good tea and selection but because during an early visit one of the baristas asked if I'd like her to put an ice cube in the cup over the tea to cool the water from the instant-boil tap. Not a perfect solution, bu better than nothing — and it showed knowledge and care.

Also, I've become something of an obnoxious evangelist against tea balls and novelty tea steepers. I know, I've posted pics of more than a few of the latter, admiring their design. But the things are really dreadful for tea. If someone finally breaks away from bags only to cram loose-leaf tea into a cramped mesh ball, they don't notice that much difference in taste. Let the tea be. Dream About Tea, a superb shop listed at the end of the story, serves several teas naked in the cup — no bag, no ball, no pouch, just tea leaves directly in the cup. Because good tea sinks.

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