Tea Diary: Week 1

Monday

My husband left at 9am this morning for a summer internship two states away. He always makes my morning cuppa for me, to go, in a travel mug, so I’m going to have to learn how I like it all over again. I was horrified to find out he’d been steeping bag tea this whole time and I’d barely noticed. So much for being awake in the morning! I decided to keep a diary of my tea drinking choices so I could chronicle the learning process.

I have the day off, so I sat down in the afternoon and made myself the first pot of loose-leaf I’ve personally brewed in months. I used Twinings Orange Pekoe in my 20oz teapot, which made several cups in my small, polka-dot teacup. I used 3 and a half spoonfuls of tea in my pot; I rinsed the leaves before steeping (pouring hot water, waiting about 30 seconds, then pouring the water off and re-filling for the actual brew), and I steeped the tea 4 minutes. With milk and sugar it tasted nice and smooth, but it left a bitter and somewhat metallic aftertaste that annoyed me. Part of the tea? Or something else?

I didn’t really know what to do with myself with no husband to bother me and no work. Good thing I have work tomorrow! I ended up cleaning the kitchen out of a sheer lack of knowing what to do with myself.

 

Tuesday

Everything hurts when I wake up. Ugh. I’ve far overdone it the night before, cleaning and helping to cook because I was so excited about the coming week. I brew the same tea again; I’m concerned that I might have burned the leaves the first time, so I let the water cool off while I hunt for a candy thermometer and ultimately fail to find one. I also added the tea to the soymilk and sugar, mostly because I was in a hurry. The aftertaste was lessened in my first cup, but still present. I resolve to add more milk and sugar to my to-go mug, just in case that’s the problem.

I am no longer pleased to have work today.

By the time I get to work, the tea is 100% bitter, no smooth taste at all. I cannot drink it, the bitter is overpowering. Did it continue steeping while I left it to keep warm in the pot? Did the milk cause the bitter taste in the first place? Did I not add enough sugar? Ugh. At least I got here okay.

Wednesday

My husband suggested that soymilk turns bitter when it’s starting to go off, so I braved a thunderstorm to buy fresh soymilk. Today all I can taste is the soymilk. I steeped it the same, so either I’ve added more soymilk today or it tastes stronger when it’s not going off. I had to give up after half the cup as the bitter taste returned. Definitely needs more sugar today. Maybe I used a smaller spoon for sugar?

Thursday

Today is going to be bad, I can feel it in my bones. I woke two minutes before the alarm; got up, peed, and then somehow it was six and I didn’t have time to shower. By the time I’m making my tea, everything aches and I’m finding it hard to catch my breath — some kind of allergen has set off my asthma. I use extra sugar in my mug so at least I’ll have that.

It’s so challenging to figure out what could have gone wrong. Minute temperature differences? A few extra seconds in the rinsing step, or not quite enough? Maybe the spoon I used is a slightly different size? The more I try to measure, the more daunting the morning cup of tea feels. It’s just tea, why bother? I stare ruefully at my pricier blends, but ultimately decide on the Orange Pekoe again. If I can’t even figure out this one, why waste the nicer tea?

Friday

Exhausted this morning, but more optimistic. I figured out how to set my kettle for 200F instead of setting it to 212 and letting it cool, which will help, but it doesn’t beep or anything so it’s hard to tell when it’s done. Tea was better today, so I drank more of it, and eventually got a bit of paper-like tea leaf on my tongue. That might explain the bitterness, if it’s continuing to extract. Maybe I need a better strainer?

Saturdays I buy tea when I go out to breakfast, and Sunday I’ll probably stick to herbal or bagged tea, so that concludes this week’s tea diary.

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