tea cups

Trial by Tea

Table of Contents

Man cannot live on bread alone, they say. In my case, though, as I have previously explained, I rarely live on bread at all. I do, on the other hand, apparently drink so much tea that Nia has asked me before why I don’t just take it intravenously and have done with it. 

So going traveling for any length of time outside of the UK always poses a particular challenge. How am I going to get decent tea? Well, actually, I usually just accept that I’m not, and drink something else instead. For this trip, however, I decided not to be such a wuss and to actually meet the challenge head-on. 


So I have brought tea with me. Actually, I have brought coffee with me too. I don’t want to get stuck with that Dunkin’ Donuts concoction. That really takes the biscuit. 

Who says I want them dunking their donuts in my coffee? Are the donuts being used as some sort of filtration mechanism? If so, what in heaven’s name are they filtering out? And, if America runs on Dunkin’, what would it be running on if they stopped the actual dunkin’? 

One more thing: why can’t that company spell its own name? As regular readers will know, that spells trouble right there. Well, it would if they knew how to spell it. 


Now some of you might think I’m fussy. But in one respect, I’m really quite easy to please. I’m not like Shazza and Kristen, who both use electric kettles that can bring the water to different temperatures for that perfect blend of leaf and water, according to the characteristics of the specific leaf. 

If you ever have a meeting with Kristen, and get the choice of your place or hers, always choose hers. She has never served me a tea I had heard of before! (If you ever have a meeting with Shazza, and get the choice of your place or hers, always choose hers too. I don’t know if the tea will be any good, but there’s half a chance she’ll offer you a scone with local honey.) 

I think water for tea should always be brought to boiling. So I didn’t bother to bring my own electric kettle; hotels provide them and I can always use a saucepan if necessary in AirBnBs. But this week I’m in a strange hotel that reminds me of places I stayed in in France in the 1970s and 80s. 


Here I have neither kettle nor saucepan. I do have a fridge, but I’ve never been a fan of cold brew. And that takes ages. (Well, actually, you could do it till infinity and the water would still hardly be infused at all. You’d achieve much the same effect in a few minutes if you made the brew with boiling water but just used hardly any tea.) 

What I do have is a Keurig and a microwave. The Keurig, of course, uses those silly mini pots. Or are they containers? (Linda would know.) No, they must be tubs. They are like small versions of how ice cream is served in cinemas. Except they produce something hot. 

Well, whatever they are, I have thought about replacing them with a teabag. But then I’d never get that satisfying click that happens when you pierce the pot/container/tub with whatever’s inside the lid of the Keurig when you press it down. And I’d really miss that satisfaction. I don’t think the feeling of squidging a teabag would quite give the same pleasure. 

Of course, teabags are multidirectional too, so there would also likely be the small problem of the water going everywhere. But I’d be game to risk that if I could be sure of hearing that click. 


So that leaves me with the dreaded microwave. Now true aficionados of the microwave method seem to believe that you should put the water in the cup, and then the teabag in the water, and then stick the whole shebang in the microwave for the full nuclear treatment. 

But that’s just wrong on so many levels. Water for tea should be boiled without a teabag or a donut being dunked in it. Said teabag (but not said donut) should meanwhile be placed in a teapot. (This is a dedicated tea-containing vessel that can take boiling water — though, on this trip, I have found that coffee carafes makes a decent teapot substitute.) 

When boiling, said water should then be poured over said teabag (but not said donut) and left to steep for several minutes. 


There is simply no room for a cup in this procedure. That is a vessel that only comes into play several minutes later. So what to do? 

Well, if you can’t beat them, join them. So I am going all out on the cup front. 

The hotel has thoughtfully provided me with four paper cups. So I now have them lined up, ready to roll. Well, I hope they don’t roll, actually. Otherwise Strudel or I might get a nasty burn. 

Cup Number 1 is the substitute kettle, that’s going to bravely take its chances with the water in the microwave. Number 2 is standing ready to hold the teabag, albeit quivering nervously while it wonders what the microwave episode is actually going to produce. (I feel much the same.) 

Number 3 is the final athlete in the relay: happy to bask in the ultimate glory, but wondering if one of its team-mates might drop the baton (or the teabag). Number 4 is ready to come off the bench if one of the starters starts to leak. 

We may be gone some time. But if there’s no blog post up by noon on Wednesday, please organize a search party. 

Hmm, on second thoughts, I think it might be a better bet to put the teabag in the Keurig….