What I miss the most abroad is a cup of tea. Nowhere do you get tea that you have at home in India. The most annoying is the tea bag variety and the lukewarm response it gives to the unwilling water.
Very hopefully, I asked for a good cup of tea at an elegant restaurant in England. What I got was a small cup, less than one-third filled with warm water and a tea bag kept neatly in the saucer. I gingerly uncoiled the thread from around the tea bag and let it softly float in the cup. The level of water dipped to half. To my dismay, the tea leaves did not budge against the cool warmness of the water. No colour, no aroma wafting in the air. It was a total mismatch. A badly conceived proposal. I threw the light yellow concoction down my throat in a gulp, to the surprise of my host. He perhaps thought it was an insult to English tea. It was the same in other countries. I stopped ordering tea and tried coffee, but the result was the same insipidity!
What has the West missed that makes its tea so insipid as compared to the land of Vatsayana and Khajuraho? I think it is lack of thoughtfulness that goes into making a nice, hot cup of tea. What they miss is the direct touch. The sensuousness of the soft and shapely tea leaves. What they miss is the very art of love. Just letting the hot water directly meet its beloved… luscious leaves waiting in the pot.
Tea bags are a spoil sport. Unless the heat of the water is allowed to play around with each leaf, petite and willing, you cannot get the right concoction. They do know that tea is to be brewed. They don’t seem to have any idea. The art needs all the ingredients in the right proportion and then allowing them to mix in the right spirit and at the right temperature. If you try doing that with unwilling, lazy water, or the already bored leaves, the much-awaited meeting will not result in a heavenly brew.
Therefore, the first thing that needs to go out the window is the bag around the tea leaves. It incarcerates the beauties. A useless sheath killing the Cupid. You can also use the slogan, ‘Shun the bag, save trees’. Do whatever, but protect the joy of tea making and drinking, and let it grow. Beware duniawallon, don’t play with the emotions of others. If you really want to have a good brew, let it simmer.
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