Monday, 4 July 2011
Time to whip out the teapot?
I have always drunk both tea and coffee - one of my earliest memories is of being given 'tea' first thing in the morning - basically warm milk that had had a teabag dipped in it for a few seconds.
I went through a phase in my early twenties where I had quite a collection of loose leaf teas and used to brew them properly, but fell out of the habit. Tea drinking holds a special place in British culture (according to Wikipedia we have the joint second highest consumption in the world at 2kg per person per year - assuming there are 3g of tea in a teabag, that's roughly 666.666667 odd cups) - but like most things that have become cheaper and more convenient, we have paid it less and less respect. Some of the big main brands are just plain awful; and yet at work I have supped them mindlessly anyway. Sitting down for a cuppa is something that I know my nan did; and my great nan and my great great nan... and that is quite comforting. I doubt I will ever give up the caffeine entirely, but I would like to cut back and start treating it with the respect it deserves.
Every morning now one of us gets up and brews a cafetiere of coffee, which sets us up for the day. We stopped using instant coffee about two years ago as we found most of the instant fairtrade coffees didn't taste that good and were quite expensive. This has actually turned out to be more frugal and healthier for us, because we drink less coffee - one or two cups a day, as opposed to four or five - but what we do drink is better quality. There is something grounding about boiling the water, waiting for the whistle of the kettle, pottering around the kitchen whilst waiting for it to brew, before finally sitting down with a cup to drink. Our tea on the other hand is generally the bagged variety brewed in the mug. The mornings that we choose to have a quick cup of tea don't feel quite so...peaceful. As a result, the coffee is generally winning out.
Last week I was in the shop where we buy our tea and coffee and they had a display of their fairtrade products. The bagged tea and loose leaf tea were sat next to each other and surprisingly, the shelf labels gave a price per 100g for both products. The loose leaf tea was about ten percent cheaper than the bagged variety - and of course, because it has room to properly unfurl and stew when loose in a pot, you actually need less than is packed into one teabag to brew a decent cup of tea. The loose leaf variety also removes an extra layer of processing and packaging which can only be a good thing, surely?
I have dusted off the teapot and will be buying a box of loose leaf tea when our current store runs out. Does anyone else use loose leaf tea? Or a teapot? Does it work out cheaper?