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I had new tea tonight. Vanilla Chai to be exact. It’s an art form, getting that stuff just right. So far I’ve not mastered it, but I will. I love the challenge of getting new tea and having to learn how to brew it for the perfect taste.

Non tea drinkers might be sitting scratching their heads thinking “what’s the big deal? You just shove a tea bag in a cup with some milk, pour some boiling water on and remove the bag, what is so hard abut that?” Well, if you’ve read my guide to making the perfect cup of tea, or my trio of poems, you’ll understand that I, dear readers, am a tea fiend.

I like my tea to be a nice colour. I like to savour the aroma, to feel it soothing me, warming me up, or on a warm day, cooling me down. So to have some coffee drinker making tea for you and totally adulterating it, that is sacrilege.

I’m not going into a huge spiel about making tea here, rather just jabbering about different teas and how they require different treatments to bring out their unique flavours. Okay, so maybe I am going into a tea-making spiel, so sue me.

I like Chai. Regular stuff as well as vanilla. But here I am talking about the regular stuff. It usually has an infusion of black tea, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. It has a nice spiciness to it and should be, in my opinion, taken with a tiny bit of milk, hardly enough to cover the bottom of the cup (the tea is quite delicate and needs stuff to compliment the flavour, rather than mask, or overpower it. There is a critical balance that simply must be struck) and there should also be some sugar to bring out the spice. The temperature of the water is also crucial. It must be freshly boiled fresh water. The tea goes cold quite quickly, so you have to let the tea infuse (I use tea bags by the way; I’m lazy) for about five to ten minutes, again because of the delicate flavour, you need to let it steep for longer than usual and then add the sugar afterwards and drink it straight away. Don’t let it go cold. Cold chai is minging.

Okay, now that chai is dealt with, I’ll go into another of my favourite teas: Camomile and peppermint. This is another delicate one, but I like it with nothing added. Just boiling water and infused for about five to seven minutes. This is a tea that is good hot or cold. It literally only has camomile and spearmint in it and is pretty darned relaxing. Technically, it’s not really tea because if it was it would have some tea leaves in it, but we’ll skip those dicey semantics. It’s not relaxing in the same way as chai, which completely knocks me out, but more of a gentle relaxation, that zones me out and makes me feel mellow, but still aware of my surroundings.

And now, Spice Imperial tea. It is an infusion of black tea, citrus peel, cinnamon and vanilla. So it’s pretty similar, you’d think, to chai. Not so much. It keeps heat better and doesn’t do well with milk in it. It also loves sugar. It has this kinda odd taste and again is pretty relaxing. I think it is one of those ones you just have to try for yourself. It is pretty damned yummy. It is best infused for a few minutes, no more than five, any more and it will get bitter. You do not want to taste bitter tea, that’s for sure! Again, once you’ve stirred, dunked and squeezed the tea bag, what you wanna do is add sugar and stir thoroughly.

Now, if I could figure out how to perfect vanilla chai, I’d be happy. I’ll get it eventually, it’s just trial and error. That’s what I was saying about liking the challenge of getting new tea. There’s something satisfying about being able to work something out and perfect a technique, regardless of what that something is.

Like last night, I fixed a netbook. It was quite frustrating because I’d started taking it apart and then it just wouldn’t come apart, so I left it for a few weeks. Then last night, I decided to give it a go again, so I had a cup of black tea (Tetley), stuck some music on and had at it. I brandished my favourite screwdriver, prised the keyboard off and then dismantled the rest of the blasted netbook. It was manky inside, so I cleaned it up, as I do and then put the internal display cable back into the motherboard. Yes, such a simple little thing was what stopped it from having a working display. Needless to say, I had a massive smile on my face and then had another cup of tea to celebrate.

So, I’ve just noticed an anomaly in this musing. I’ve been talking about black tea, but not white tea, or green tea. Likely because I don’t drink white tea or green tea. But more likely because there probably isn’t really that much of a distinction. You’d think that there was, but there really isn’t that much of a difference because it comes from the same plant. However the manufacturing process is different.

When black tea is made, it is picked, usually by hand and then processed. The leaves are rolled by hand, which causes them to break up. They are then oxidised, which is basically just roasting the leaves. Then they are dried to stop oxidation and then sorted into grades through the use of sieves.

White tea is made using pretty much the same process, but is oxidised for less time, so it makes a weaker tea when brewed, hence the terms white tea and black tea. They’re really just the same things, only different.

Green tea is tea that has gone through minimal to no oxidisation process. I find it entirely unpalatable, so just avoid it.

If you were to visit my house, as long as you could get past the mad mutt, I’d offer you a cup of tea. We have regular black stuff (Tetley), several types of green, several mint types, chai, vanilla chai, Earl Grey, Lapsang Souchong, spiced imperial and quite a few others.

I’d make you such a lovely cup of tea, you’d come back for more. You might even get used to being jumped upon by the dog.

Just a wee side note, my dog is a mastiff/pyrenean mountain dog cross. He’s pretty big, has big slobbery chops, is brindle in colour, but mostly brown, hence his name Chester because he’s like a Chesterfield sofa. Certainly is as big as one. He’s quite the character and has absolutely nothing to do with the general theme of this musing, I just wanted to mention him because I love him.

Anyway, it’s late and I’m tired, so I’ll end this musing now and leave you with a mantra: Keep calm and drink tea.

Happy tea drinking, Kittylove! Kisses
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