Monday, 3 January 2011

Tea and Christopher Hitchens

The eternal debate about the best way to make a cup of tea has been joined by Christopher Hitchens. He is the controversial English-born, American-based essayist and vociferous atheist, who recently challenged Tony Blair in a public debate about religion.
Unlike most Britons who are wary about discussing their faith or – as in Hitchens case - their lack of it, he does share the national characteristic of being very keen to promote the best way to make a cup of tea.
The only problem is that no two Brits can agree on the winning formula. There are too many permutations – the brand of tea, loose leaf or teabag, the heat of the boiled water, the sequence in which milk is added, and whether it should be sweetened or not. I posted my own views on the subject in A nice cup of tea - an appreciation last April.
Hitchens is a George Orwell buff and quoted some of the 1984 and Animal Farm author’s do’s and don’t in the quest for the perfect cup of tea. The great man, however, would have been shocked to learn that Hitchens commits the heresy of adding honey or brown sugar to what Orwell (and me) considers should be an unsweetened beverage.
Hitchens’ article was prompted by his complaint that it is impossible to find a decent cuppa in the US. I would concur with this opinion. I think it’s to do with a difference in milk and the propensity to use lukewarm water.
On many occasions this side of the Atlantic I’ve had disappointing cups of tea – often when made by myself such is the hit and miss nature of tea making.
But then I was surprised how insipid the coffee in standard diners was the last time I was in the States.
In coffee chains you need at least a triple shot to turn your hot milk drink into anything approaching a coffee. If by some mistake there was an escape of the smell of coffee, the baristas would think the place was on fire.

1 comment:

What do you think? GC