2021 April Week No. 4

How to Make the Perfect Cup of Tea

2 min read

You look down into the mug on your desk where a half inch of cold tea still remains from the morning. You stand up from your desk and walk over to the kitchen. You could get a new mug, but you rinse the one you have with water. Less to wash later.

You think for a moment about all of the teas you have, a hojicha, a genmaicha, even the tin of English Breakfast that’s actually pretty fresh. You grab a tea packet instead. It’s a blend of sencha and matcha, which makes it feel a little trendy. You buy it in a box of 100 from Costco.

A few years ago you got one of those dispensing kettles, a 3L model. It’s one of your favorite things. You pour a mug of water and check to make sure there’s enough left for another cup later—eh, barely, it’s probably fine. The display reads 195°, a compromise that ensures it’s equally wrong for the black and green teas you drink. You think that’s the setting for oolong? You don’t really drink oolong tea.

One time you went to a tea place and practiced saying “rooibos” in your head until they asked you for your order. You got it wrong anyway.

You plop the tea bag in.

How do people do this? The people who take the time to measure the tea, who know what temperature to use, who wash the tea, who have those tea trays. You have a nice cast iron tea pot in the cabinet; you haven’t used it since, well, since before the pandemic started at least.

It’s ritual, you think. A practice. Maybe you need more of that in your life. Should you know more about tea ceremonies? 茶道。 You’re good with kanji when it involves food, but really bad otherwise.

You look out the window everything is just so much. And maybe things will be better soon, but that’s not now, and right now everything is so much. You think about crying for a minute, but you’re writing an article about making tea, and crying isn’t part of that, exactly.

How long are you supposed to brew this? A couple of minutes probably? How long as it been? You fish the wrapper out of the trash. “30 seconds”? Shit, shit, shit, it’s been way longer than that. And you’re supposed to pour the matcha in the bottom of the packet on top of the tea when it’s done? That’s kind of cool actually? You’ll have to remember to do that next time. (You forget.)

The tea is too hot to drink, so you set the mug down on your desk and try to focus on work again. By the time you remember, the tea is lukewarm.