hopeless at tea

This is Albert:

I love Albert. That actually happens to me quite a bit. I fall for all the service people in my life. Albert came to fix our dryer (read: dual washer/dryer) on Friday and I could barely understand a word out of his mouth. East Londoner he is.

But I asked him if he wanted a cuppa. Because I’m polite and it was the afternoon. And he, to my chagrin, accepted.

I only began to sweat a little. Usually I let Bryan make the tea. It’s too much stress for me. Especially when Handyman Harry says “two sugars”. I mean, what does that even mean?? No one uses cubes at home. Ugh.

But Bryan wasn’t home and I need to act like a big girl and so I turned on the electric tea kettle. And I let that thing go beyond boiling. And then I poured that scalding water over the tea bag in the mug. And I let it sit. Because I remember once an English person told me Americans never let the tea bag steep long enough. So I let it sit some more. And then I was very generous with the whole milk. And I felt very proud of myself that the water was so hot and the steeping was so long and that we had whole milk in the house (courtesy of our toddler).

Albert took the tea and drank it and I pretended I wasn’t monitoring his reaction. Then a little bit later Albert turned to me, and this is what happened:

Albert: Do you ever use a teapot?

Me: No, I always use the electric kettle and do it this way. Wait, should I?

A: Yeah.

Me: You can taste the difference?

A: Oh yeah. What I… (blikeyblimeyblokey is what his thick accent sounds like, I can only get every third word)… you put a few tea bags in the pot and pour the hot water over it and let it sit for a while… (blikeyblimeyblokey).

Me: (attempting self-deprecation in reverse psychological attempt to get some kind of affirmation from Albert) Well, you know Americans can never make tea properly!! Ha ha!! Albert? Ha! Right? Hardy har!

A: Well I’ve had some good tea made by Canadians.

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9 Comments

Filed under culture clash, london

9 responses to “hopeless at tea

  1. The Friend

    I can’t believe that Al let you take a picture. I mean, how do you even go about asking for that?

  2. This same thing happened to me in London – we were getting some work done in our bathroom and the guy asked for tea, and I never, ever make or drink tea, and I freaked out and made him some and he was like ‘This is the first time you have made tea, huh love?’. I felt like such a fool.

  3. I still hate making tea for other people! It can be so hard to get it right. Americans only seem to want herbal or flavoured teas with no milk, which just doesn’t seem like tea to me. I like my cup of tea every afternoon, but I don’t bother with a teapot as it’s just one cup for me. Using a teapot adds a whole layer to the ritual – you have to warm the pot in advance, preferably have a tea cosy to keep the pot as warm as possible while the tea is brewing and you never, ever, clean the inside of the teapot as my American husband once tried to do. The tannins that build up on the inside of the pot add to the flavour!

    “Two sugars” just means two teaspoonfuls of sugar.

  4. I seriously love this post. And I love Albert, as well. I have never photographed my service people. Or offerred them anything but water, which is difficult to screw up.

  5. Elizabeth

    The purists insist on using fresh water to boil as well. I love my tea, but I can’t taste the difference.

    I can absolutely tell the difference if the water wasn’t hot enough, though. Rapid boil!!!! And always take the tea bag out when it is done steeping. I hate it when people pour milk while the tea bag is still in there ….

    You know, I could go on, but this is your blog, not mine.

  6. yael

    Thanks for weighing in, everyone.

    When Al was going blikeyblimeyblokeybloomy over his mum and tea, I just felt like I needed a picture. I asked him permission and said it was for my family. Mostly true. He felt like a celebrity I think. As he should.

    I also poured the milk over the tea bag. Ugh.

    Please, go on. I am learning from you all.

  7. toshalot

    wowzers! hilarious! i drink tea all day every day but … I’m a half breed American so my two cents makes no diff. i, for example, take no sweetner, use just a touch of milk if any at all, and keep my tea bag in there the whole time. it baffles me how people can make a tea bag last for two cups. i’m incapable of that. oh, and i use an electric tea kettle too. what i can’t really dig is microwave heated tea water …

  8. “Two sugars” means “two different kinds of sugar, please”. Some people claim they can taste if the sugar is white, soft brown, muscovado, demarara, etc, and if you’re a sugar-in-tea connoisseur, what you really like is one spoonful of two different kinds.

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