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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Time for Tea?

May I first apologise. It is obviously not the day after my last post, although I fully intended it to be. This week has passed in a trail of tax returns, admin and COLDS I'm afraid but also making plans which is a good thing obviously.

At the end of last week I published the latest pattern in the Vintage Gifts to Knit collection which is my lovely retro teapot cosy called Flower-ty Pot.

The cosy is knitted in Jamieson & Smith 2 ply jumper yarn and when experimenting I found that after 45 minutes the tea in the pot was still steaming hot, which has to say something about the insulating qualities of wool. The colours I chose for the flower-ty petals are the accent colours in my slowly proceeding kitchen. I have quite a few pieces of pink glass and green china so hope to pick them out as the kitchen progresses. In the foreground you can see a little embroidered tray doilly that I picked up for 50p at a local jumble sale.

Here's the pot from the other end! Whilst working on the pattern for the cosy I was reminded of George Orwell's famous essay on tea making. Even within my own family there is often heated debates about the right way to make tea. Below is an extract from Orwell's essay, agree or disagree?

A Nice Cup of Tea by George Orwell

Here are my own eleven rules, every one of which I regard 
as golden:

First of all, one should use Indian or Ceylonese tea. China tea has 
virtues which are not to be despised nowadays--it is economical, and one 
can drink it without milk--but there is not much stimulation in it. One 
does not feel wiser, braver or more optimistic after drinking it. Anyone 
who has used that comforting phrase 'a nice cup of tea' invariably means 
Indian tea.

Secondly, tea should be made in small quantities--that is, 
in a teapot. Tea out of an urn is always tasteless, while army tea, made 
in a cauldron, tastes of grease and whitewash. The teapot should be made of 
china or earthenware. Silver or Britannia ware teapots produce inferior tea 
and enamel pots are worse; though curiously enough a pewter teapot (a 
rarity nowadays) is not so bad.

Thirdly, the pot should be warmed 
beforehand. This is better done by placing it on the hob than by the 
usual method of swilling it out with hot water.

Fourthly, the tea should 
be strong. For a pot holding a quart, if you are going to fill it nearly 
to the brim, six heaped teaspoons would be about right. In a time of 
rationing, this is not an idea that can be realized on every day of the 
week, but I maintain that one strong cup of tea is better than twenty weak 
ones. All true tea lovers not only like their tea strong, but like it a 
little stronger with each year that passes--a fact which is recognized in 
the extra ration issued to old-age pensioners.

Fifthly, the tea should be 
put straight into the pot. No strainers, muslin bags or other devices to 
imprison the tea. In some countries teapots are fitted with little 
dangling baskets under the spout to catch the stray leaves, which are 
supposed to be harmful. Actually one can swallow tea-leaves in 
considerable quantities without ill effect, and if the tea is not loose 
in the pot it never infuses properly.

Sixthly, one should take the teapot 
to the kettle and not the other way about. The water should be actually 
boiling at the moment of impact, which means that one should keep it on 
the flame while one pours. Some people add that one should only use water 
that has been freshly brought to the boil, but I have never noticed that 
it makes any difference.

Seventhly, after making the tea, one should stir 
it, or better, give the pot a good shake, afterwards allowing the leaves 
to settle.

Eighthly, one should drink out of a good breakfast cup--that 
is, the cylindrical type of cup, not the flat, shallow type. The 
breakfast cup holds more, and with the other kind one's tea is always half 
cold--before one has well started on it.

Ninthly, one should pour the 
cream off the milk before using it for tea. Milk that is too creamy always 
gives tea a sickly taste.

Tenthly, one should pour tea into the cup first. 
This is one of the most controversial points of all; indeed in every family 
in Britain there are probably two schools of thought on the subject. The 
milk-first school can bring forward some fairly strong arguments, but I 
maintain that my own argument is unanswerable. This is that, by putting 
the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactly regulate the 
amount of milk whereas one is liable to put in too much milk if one does 
it the other way round. 

Lastly, tea--unless one is drinking it in the Russian style--should be 
drunk WITHOUT SUGAR. I know very well that I am in a minority here. 
But still, how can you call yourself a true tea-lover if you destroy 
the flavour of your tea by putting sugar in it? It would be equally 
reasonable to put in pepper or salt. Tea is meant to be bitter, 
just as beer is meant to be bitter. If you sweeten it, you are no longer 
tasting the tea, you are merely tasting the sugar; you could make a very 
similar drink by dissolving sugar in plain hot water. 

Some people would answer that they don't like tea in itself, that they 
only drink it in order to be warmed and stimulated, and they need sugar 
to take the taste away. To those misguided people I would say: Try 
drinking tea without sugar for, say, a fortnight and it is very unlikely 
that you will ever want to ruin your tea by sweetening it again. 

These are not the only controversial points to arise in connexion with 
tea drinking, but they are sufficient to show how subtilized the whole 
business has become. There is also the mysterious social etiquette 
surrounding the teapot (why is it considered vulgar to drink out of your 
saucer, for instance?) and much might be written about the subsidiary 
uses of tea leaves, such as telling fortunes, predicting the arrival of 
visitors, feeding rabbits, healing burns and sweeping the carpet. It is 
worth paying attention to such details as warming the pot and using water 
that is really boiling, so as to make quite sure of wringing out of one's 
ration the twenty good, strong cups of that two ounces, properly handled, 
ought to represent.
All of the works and pictures on are considered to be in the public domain (copyright protection has expired) and, as such, you may freely use the text of the works in any way you see fit.

I have to agree with George completely on no sugar and my Ruby nan always insisted that you could tell how well bred someone was by whether milk went in before or after the tea!

The Flower-ty pot pattern can be bought via ravelry for £2.50 or via the blog links and until the end of the month I am donating 50% of the sale price to MSF Help for Haiti.


Britta said...

That an amazing tea cozy. I love it!

Anonymous said...

That is the most gorgeous tea cozy I've ever seen.

Linda said...

What an amazing tea cosy design! I agree with the tea stuff except it should be in a big mug!

Anonymous said...

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John Trider
Cell jammer