Monday, February 05, 2007

Is it green tea's time?

A food critic for the Seattle Weekly explores a few of the city's newest, trendiest tea houses and wonders if it's even possible to "update tea's fusty image."

Personally, I don't mind the "fusty" image—I drink tea because it's healthy and relaxing and because I like the taste, not because it's trendy.

And a passage in the article highlights an unfortunate trend in tea-drinking today:

At four of the five teahouses I visited, my cup came with a timer. The style of the timer bespoke the attitude and mood of the place, from wooden hourglasses at Tea Cup and Floating Leaves to Remedy's high-tech plastic timer, which flashed red at three minutes.

Preparing and drinking tea is an art, not a science. It's supposed to be relaxing, and keeping one eye on an egg timer while your tea steeps is not exacly conducive to relaxation. Instead of using timers or thermometers, we should strive to brew by intuition, as in "Okay, that's about long enough to wait after the water has boiled before pouring" or "Yes, that's about long enough for the tea to steep." After all, the art of preparing and drinking tea was developed in an age before egg timers and thermometers.

The linked-to article reaches a sensible conclusion for anyone who feels intimidated by tea. Says the proprietor of one tea house:

"Some people are intimidated by tea. They think you have to know a lot to drink it, but that's not true. We want to make tea fans of people," says Arnold at Remedy, placing a steaming cup in front of me. "Hey, try it; it's good."

In other words, just brew it!

Green tea: Just brew it!

—Mellow Monk

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