Friday, January 21, 2011

I'm a little teapot, short and stout...

Let me start this post by saying that I've always been a diehard coffee drinker. Not that I drink it black, or anything, but I really like a strong cuppa java in the morning to get me going. I've got a system that I use, like a religious process, of making coffee. First, put on the kettle. Second grind the beans. Third pour boiling water over ground beans in a French press (must be strong, good quality beans-no Folgers, or Maxwell House). Fourth, wait 15 minutes, depress the plunger and voila- powerful coffee magic. Mmmm, it really is good to the last drop. The press confounds my Mother in-Law, which I find strange since it's probably one of the earliest, therefore primitive methods of making coffee. She's a drip brew kinda gal. Press a button, walk away, minutes later, brown liquid is ready for the taking. I appreciate the instant gratification of that brewing method, but I can't stray from the flavor produced by coffee made in a press. Coffee people tend to come from one of two camps. You're either a Dunkin' Donuts fan, or a Starbucks aficionado. And if you're the type who can buy a cup of joe at a gas station, then you have no taste buds and deserve to burn your tongue. I can't abide any strange flavors in my coffee. No french vanilla, no pumpkin (gross!), just wholesome beans, handpicked by Juan Valdez and his tiny, overburdened donkey.
This Christmas I gave Jonathan that cute little teapot in the photo. One of our friends served us a delicious tea after a dinner party and we both flipped over it. It was simply brewed in a vessel just like the one above, and it had a mellow, yet addictive flavor. Ti Quan Yin is its name. We couldn't get enough of this brew and like gluttons we drank cup after cup. That night opened up a whole new world of hot, caffeinated beverages for us. There is a tea company in our area called Harney and Son's who maintain a "tea house" in Millerton, NY. I'd never ventured into the tea house, because frankly I've never had that much passion for tea. But after trying the one flavor, I knew there must be more so it was time to take a trip. The tea house was packed with people on the day we chose to check it out. I perused the shelves of tins of loose tea, bobbing and weaving between nattily dressed couples and their perfect miniature replica's (otherwise known as children). Upon closer inspection, I noticed that the women all appeared to be botoxed and their hair was coiffed and colored just so. The men were rugged, handsome, yet sensitive fondling the tins with faraway looks in their eyes, as if they were recollecting a lovely memory that involved drinking that very brew. Did everyone have a sexy, foreign accent in this place but me? The entire crowd looked as though they'd just been prepped for a magazine shoot, for say Brooks Brothers, or Nieman Marcus. I looked down at my faded jeans and Ugg knock-offs that smelled faintly of horse. Pulling my carhart knit cap down over my brow line, I hastily selected a promising citrus blend, paid for it and slunk out of the store. Jonathan was waiting for me in the car already, since five minutes in that atmosphere had been enough for him.
"Honey, that was just creepy," I said to him. "Is that what "tea people" are like?"

When we go to the coffee house up the street there are often men in flannel shirts, with beards and long hair. Mother's with sticky fingered children, jostle in line, maneuvering their baby carriages and smiling apologetically when they bump you by accident. They are REAL people. The tea house was a surreal experience. There was definitely a Stepford Wives vibe in that place. I'm sure that I'll have to go back for more tea at some point, but I'll make sure I go to the hairdresser right before and wear my finest woolen togs. And I can fake a British accent with the best of them. But just know, I'm no tea person. I'm a coffee lover all the way, just dipping my big toe in the fancy tea pool for some variety on a cold wintery day. Seeing how the other half lives, as it were. Pinkies up and all that rot...


  1. you are the tops on any thing u write of. I too am checking into tea when Aunt Joan stopped in with a bottle of green tea one day. I hate water so I figure it's one way to drink it, therefore i'm loving both. But here in the brook it's honey dew for coffee.

  2. Merci Judy! I find a cup of peppermint tea (no caffeine) makes for a perfect nightcap. Soothing, delicious and accompanied by a cookie...sublime sleep remedy. Explore tea, it's worth it, especially in these cold temps!!