Tea Time

When I was on my trip up the Pacific Coast a year and a half ago, I stopped at a dear friend’s house. We’d never actually met until that time, but we’d been online friends for so long that there wasn’t even a moment of awkwardness. We seamlessly moved from online conversations to offline conversations.

There was much about that visit to savor: her wonderful library that included my books, a trip to the nearby rhododendron garden, learning to do cryptic crosswords . . . and tea. Although she herself isn’t a tea drinker, she had a lovely box filled with a variety of teas.

Ah! Tea envy!

I’ve never been a big tea drinker, but lately I’ve become something of a teaphile. (There is no such word, but the suffix “phile” means lover of, as in the case of bibliophile, a lover of books, so teaphile should be a word.)

Ever since I got my own kitchen, I’ve been collecting teas, but so often, a box of one kind is too much, so I finally ordered assortments of teas that come individually packaged. Now this teaphile (me) has a tea file!

I’ve been making tea in the microwave, but to my surprise, the Twinning packets says “Do not microwave.” So naturally, I had to research this. Apparently, microwaved water is not heated through and through but contains pockets of colder water, and the unreliable temperature makes for a bitter tea. Because green tea steeps at a lower temperature, it could be okay to microwave green teas. (Water for black tea needs to be heated to 212˚, but green tea does fine at 176˚.)

I imagine it would also be okay to microwave herbal teas since herbal teas aren’t really teas. They are tisanes. Real tea, such as green tea, black tea and oolong tea, come from leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. Herbal teas are made from herbs, of course, as well as spices, dried fruits, and flowers.

But, being a teaphile comes with some responsibility, such as making tea correctly. So I’ve been boiling water in my borosilicate glass teapot, which supposedly does not transfer any contaminants to the water as some tea kettles do. (The original Pyrex was made with borosilicate glass, but ever since 1998 has been made with the inferior lime glass which does not handle heat nearly as well.)

I have two different borosilicate glass teapots, one says not to microwave, one says not for stovetop use, which doesn’t make any sense, so I wrote to the manufacturer. Haven’t heard from them.

But only one teapot is necessary, so I’ve been using the one for the stove top, and it’s working fine.

All this writing and research is making me thirsty. I think I’ll go make myself a cup of tea.

Will you join me?

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.