Pick Your Potion
Twenty-four years ago, my firstborn and I went on a school-study-vacation trip to England. Long story about why I went with him, for another post someday. It was a wonderful trip. We went with a congenial little group, had lots of independence, and the most glorious English spring weather. It didn’t rain until the day we left, which was rather amazing for April. The trip was everything this English teacher could have wanted. Also a lover of British history, I felt like I had been dropped into a fairy tale. It would be very easy for me to follow that rabbit trail, but this post is about tea 🙂
Our guide, Richard, was a delightful young gentleman. He was so pleasant, and did his best to give us a true taste of British life. He chauffered us to all the major sites in the South of England, including Salisbury, Bath, Stonehenge (at that time, a person could still walk right into the circle and touch the stones) and Tintern Abbey. Then we went to London and did all the things tourists do there. So many wonderful memories.
A highlight, though, was the day Richard invited our little group to high tea at his home, where we would meet his family. The family included his wife’s parents, who were Sir and Lady Something-I-don’t-Remember. Sir ? had been equerry to Prince Charles. Again, both of these people were completely enjoyable, interested in each of us and had done their homework so that they already knew a little bit about us and could ask questions accordingly.
Now, the tea. I’d grown up popping a well-known brand of tea bag into a cup of boiling water. Never, ever have done so again since the day we had tea with Richard. The tea his wife served was a completely different matter, and it has changed, for me, having a cup of tea into an art.
From the very first sip, I was enchanted with the flavor and the aroma of this amazing tea. Here’s what Diana, Richard’s wife, prepared for us:
1. Water for tea was boiled in a kettle. Never in a microwave!
2. The teapot, not to be confused with the kettle, was filled with very hot tapwater while the kettle boiled.
3. Into a teaball, she measured out the equivalent of two bags of Earl Grey tea. When the kettle whistled, the hot water was poured out of the teapot. The Earl Grey was put into the pot, along with four bags of Typhoo tea (large pot, probably served ten cups of tea. The ratio here is two Earl Grey to one Typhoo). Then the boiling water from the kettle was poured into the pot.
4. Diana let the tea steep for about three minutes. Then she mashed the bags against the inside of the pot, removed them and the tea ball, and poured out this heavenly brew.
I sweetened mine with a spoon of sugar, and because I had no idea how good it was going to taste, I was unprepared for the way my taste buds leaped to attention and said, “Hey! Give us some more of that!”
We all raved about the tea. There was no magical recipe, just good tea made the way it ought to be made. Diana sent bags of Typhoo home with each of us. When I ran out, I looked for it all over the place and couldn’t find it. Ended up ordering online from a place in Texas.
It was a very happy day, then, when my third son recently brought me a box of Typhoo that he’d found at Wegman’s, which has a section of British-style foods
You should try it. You’ll like it 🙂