Ruining a perfectly nice cup of tea is fast and easy! If pure unenjoyment is your goal, simply pour a mug of any old slop and hop onto facebook to read the hateful comments of former friends lobbing insults at each other over either the inauguration or the weekend’s marches. Despair over the lack of work out posts and run-of-the-mill humble brags. Long for the days of friends and family reporting the inane happenings of everyday life.
But if the artistry of a spoiled cup of tea is your end result, let’s get to work.
The surest way to ruin tea is to over-steep the leaves. Over-steeping is letting the leaves sit in the hot water too long. It will ruin your tea whether you are using too much tea, too little, whole leaves or crushed leaves. You will have a hard time over steeping some herbal teas, but any black or green tea will become a cup of bitterness and defeat in just minutes.
Measure tea with a teaspoon from the silverware drawer. They’re called teaspoons because they hold just the right amount of tea leaves for one nice cup. If it’s crushed tea, use a scant teaspoon. If it’s whole leaf tea, heap it up a little more. So here’s the deal: You put the water on to boil and then start putz-ing around the kitchen. The kettle whistles and now you’re in the middle of something, so you quickly scoop the tea into the pot and pour the hot water over it before going back to what you were doing. Before you know it, 10 minutes have passed and ta-da! your tea is ruined. You did it!
If you do NOT want unpalatable tripe, remove the tea or pour your cup (as in, either way, separate the tea from the spent leaves) in 60-90 seconds for green tea or two minutes for black tea.
This morning I thought I had just enough time to take the long way home from preschool along the West Ridge Trail before it started raining again. The sandy path was etched with the ghosts of rivulets, and water dripped off cactus spines. The air was herbal and fragrant, just like Dry Desert Sage tea by Republic of Tea. This tea is really terrible—like poisonous cough syrup terrible—if it’s made too strong or steeped too long, but so so so good when steeped appropriately. It quite accurately tastes like the desert smells after the rain. Which is lovely.
Higher along the ridge a raindrop hit my cheek like a tear. I could see the rain progressing toward me across the valley. “I’ll probably make it home in time,” I thought to myself shortly before the sky opened up and I got drenched. Pepper trees released their pink peppercorns, which crushed beneath my feet and added sweet spice to the air. Back on the main road, I splashed across the street, passed downed trees and work crews, shook water from my nose and glasses, and enjoyed the nice eucalyptus smells from all the debris shaken loose.
As soon as I got home, the rain let up. I had my first Tai Chi class at the Poway Library this morning, but before that I had a nice cup of tea. It was perfect. But if I need to ruin it, facebook and its election reactions always await.