Brewing a proper pot of tea!
With a proper English teapot!
This is the first article in a series
that I've been longing to write
for years , detailing
the proper way to serve a
fabulous tea for any occasion.
As I always say, once you know the rules you can break the rules.
That's when it gets to be fun, so stay tuned!
Lately, I've really been drinking a lot of good cups of tea.....actually, not just craving, but obsessing over them. I've reread every book about tea that I own, and I’ve even gone out to buy a few more. I have at least 10 different kinds of Earl Grey…my favorite. I've been fantasizing about a tea room , or perhaps a salon where friends could come and have a wonderful cup of tea and a sandwich (or two or ten!)
This fascination with tea and all of the ritual that accompanies it has been with me for a very long time, actually ever since I was a little girl. Fortunately for a child like me, I had a mother with wonderful taste, who made it a point to introduce me to the art of afternoon tea very early in my life! Some of my most favorite memories are of the darling silver child sized tea set that she owned, that she used to let all us us play with whenever we wanted.
This same wonderful mother, used to bring me tea and breakfast in bed when I was sick, on beautiful blue and white Royal Adderley breakfast dishes. Somehow, I always got better quickly, but not until I'd milked at least two more days of lavish spoiling out of her!
No matter where I've been in the world with my mother, we've always made time for tea. (Martini's too, but that's another story!) High teas, breakfast teas, luncheon teas, bridal teas, tea dances...whatever the occasion we could create a tea party for it! So many of the promotions that we did for our store were tea parties…there's just something about little sandwiches, dainty cookies and Wedgwood teapots that just makes anyone, even a very masculine sort of man feel very romantic!
We had afternoon tea everyday when we went to England, at every wonderful hotel and each seemed to be more delightful then the last. We were there touring every great porcelain factory that the UK and Ireland had to offer and everyday at 4:00 pm time would stop no matter where we were and out would come trays of lovely sandwiches and sweets and steaming hot pots of tea with lots of scones with clotted cream and fresh jam. My favorite was always the Earl Grey, my mothers, the Jasmine, like her mother before her. I can promise you that there isn't anything like the experience of having tea in the Spode Porcelain factory. I'm salivating as I type this.
But and it’s a big but. I remember noticing that the tea was never brewed in a fancy pot. Served in the most beautiful teapots definitely, just not brewed, at least back then. I discovered quickly when I asked that there was a reason for it.
Now all of my former friends in the china business won't speak to me after I say this, but say it I will...I don't believe that you can brew a really good pot of tea in a fancy teapot! Now, nothing is more wonderful to me than a bergamot and lavender infused Lady Grey tea served in a lovely Spode , silver or Limoges teapot...just not brewed in it! The English (who have made an entire lifestyle out of a glorious afternoon tea!) , know this well, which is why they created the teapot that I set out to find....The classic Brown Betty!
"Brown Betty Teapots are still made in Stoke-on Trent, formed from clay which comes from the same area where Elder Brothers found clay in 1695. The method of producing was known as 'Jolleying' but over the years it has been modified to slip casting which gives the pot an even thickness and a smooth finish both inside and out. Generations of Englishmen have proved that the Brown Betty, as these Red Ware teapots are affectionately known, make the best pot of tea in the world. The shape of the pot causes the tea to be gently swirled around as the boiling water is added. The Red Terracotta Clay with its Rockingham Glaze, holds the heat better and gives the perfect cup of tea."
Well now that's quite a reputation to live up to, but I have discovered this to be the finest teapot that I've ever used! She's quite full bodied, with a lovely round shape dressed with a beautiful brown glaze inside and out, made with solid red clay thso earthy and warm to the touch! I warmed her up with hot water while I waited for the water for the tea water to boil, dumped the water out and put the loose tea inside and added the boiling water. Then I waited bloody impatiently for the requisite 4 minutes that it generally takes to brew a great pot of tea!
Well to make a long story short, it was wonderful, and actually the best pot of tea that I'd ever made.
I found one of my mothers lovely Royal Adderley tea cup’s and her teapot, and added some mint simple syrup! It was heaven, absolutely delicious, better than I'd ever imagined! I curled up on the couch with my cat and the newest issue of Victoria magazine and felt more than a little bit smug.