Monday, June 16, 2008

A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down

I like my cup of tea made a certain way:
  • The tea should be brewed in a bone china teapot.
  • The tea should never be Earl Grey [spit] or variations thereof. Plain Dilmah or English Breakfast are my faves.
  • The tea should be made with tea leaves and absolutely not tea bags [more spitting].
  • The tea should be made using boi-LING not boi-LED water (to pinch a phrase from Nell's Mum Daphne).
  • The tea should be served in a bone china mug -not too big or too small- which must be white inside. Why that makes my tea taste better I don't know but it absolutely makes a difference.
  • First you must put in two teaspoons of sugar, using the right size teaspoon. Then you add the tea. Then you add the milk.
Fixit knows exactly how to do it. My sister and Nell are a little bit scared to make me tea but that's all right, if Fixit can't make it I prefer to do it myself. And please note, this is how I like my tea in my territory where I have control of it. If I have tea at your house I can drink it from plain porcelain, made with a bag and the sugar put in last. Just in case you were scared of having me over now. But I still won't drink that Earl Grey muck.

This extreme high-maintenance around the tea ritual has also spilled over into my sugar bowl. There are two things I really hate where sugar bowls are concerned. One is when you work in an office and all the dirty instant coffee drinkers dip their coffee spoon into the sugar receptacle and leave grains of Nestle 43 Bean contaminating the sugar. So selfish. And coffee flavoured sugar is 'orrible in tea. The other one is more related to my home sugar bowl, and that is people using my perfect exactly right for measuring how much sugar I exactly like in my tea sugar spoon to stir their hot beverage. I provide other NQR sized teaspoons for their stirring needs so leave my sugar spoon in the bloody sugar bowl will ya?? When Nell lived with us she had several black marks against her name for this disgusting habit, but I soon bullied her out of it. It is quite comical to see the guilt in her face when she occasionally relapses. Endearingly she always 'fesses up too.

The advent of children into my life has provided me with a third revolting sugar bowl crime. When the adults are not around to do the breakfast thing, Climber (and now through his excellent example-setting, Cherub) have taken to liberally sugaring their cereal and then taking a nice big lick / mouthful of sugar before returning the spoon to the bowl. Honestly. Kids think we adults are stupid or something. Check out the evidence they leave, as IF I'm not going to notice THAT:

(I will just add here that this is Verboten when I'm around, I'm tough about any excess sugar and Weetbix is the only cereal they are permitted to minutely sweeten. However as I am not always around or fully functional for the morning shift, I cannot say with any surety that my edicts wishes are obeyed.)

At first I was just blaming Climber for the icky spoon, but Cherub has obviously joined the sugar-licking party and the reason we know this is a conversation he had with Fixit yesterday, when a second breakfast of Weetbixes was being organised (Cherub had 3, Climber had 5; I swear we keep Sanitarium in business). It went like this.

Cherub : (helpfully) Daddy you can go outside.
Fixit : (matter of fact) Yes.
Cherub : (coaxingly) Daddy, you can go outside if you want to.
Fixit : (getting suspicious) Yes. To do what?
Cherub : (helpfully) You can go and hang the washing up or hang the washing down.
Fixit : (also helpful) Do you want to do something you don't want me to know about?
Cherub : (matter of fact) Yes.
Fixit : (coaxingly) Does it involve something to do with sugar?
Cherub : (matter of fact) Yes.
Fixit : (matter of fact) Okay.

Subtlety, thy name is not Cherub.


  1. I think I would love to have tea at your house some day, but I would want my milk in first, before the tea, and sadly, no sugar. But in my sugar heyday, it would have been exactly that - two perfect spoons. :)

    So now I'm a lazy cow and use Tetley bags. But in a perfect world, I'd SO do it your way!

    I love the tale of the sugar thief!!

  2. I'll take mine strong and black while you're up.

    Oh, and at work, that sugar is not "coffee tasting" it's Nescafe tasting, which is something else entirely. Coffee tasting tea is also bad though.

  3. Excellent Stomper, you and I can have tea together any time. I thought I was the most pedantic tea maker in the universe. But no!

    I have just weaned down to 1 special-sized spoonful of sugar and I must have 1 teaspoonful of milk in the cup. I HATE milky tea. It's not about colour, you understand, it's about *texture*. Only tea pedantics understand this.

    Alas, while I prefer to drink tea out of bone china (I have special cups and mugs for this purpose) I have lapsed on the tea pot and real leaves. I like them, but for everyday I'm an English Breakfast tea bag girl. A double spit on the Earl Grey.

    Oh dear, an essay, sorry but you know how it is with us tea drinkers, so an essay it must be.

  4. Just black here, strong as possible - and I'll take any flavour. No sugar, especially after all that spoon licking . My biggers do the same with the milo.

  5. Fixit, thy name is Exceedingly Understanding Father of Sons.

    2 sugars, Stomper? 2 SUGARS?!


  6. Funny boys, you have...

    Many years ago I looked after my niece and was making her weetbix. She said, "Don't put milk on the chooker." It took a long time for me to work out that she liked her sugar put on last so that the milk didn't melt it all away.

    When you come to my house I'll point to the kitchen and you can make your own tea. I'm too worried that I'll stuff it up. (My Pete likes to put condensed milk instead of milk and sugar. How does that sound?)

  7. What??? Nell has THREE sugars in her coffee. And she drinks Nescafe.

  8. Oh, thank God I'm not the only person who is anal about how to do certain things.

    My little ways don't involve tea. (I actually like Earl Grey. sorry.) But other things, like dishwasher stacking, pantry organising, lolly eating.... there's proper ways to do things and I'm sorry but I won't budge!!!!

  9. Tracey I will make my own and possibly I will bring my own milk. Condensed milk, UHT milk, soy milk and full cream milk are all BEE-AY- DEE. That's BAD in case you weren't sure.

  10. What is the right way to eat lollies?

  11. I am extremely impressed. I am also about to email you.

  12. I didn't used to be scared of you. But now I'm worried. I think Cherub and I could be friends, though.

  13. Oh yes. Earl Grey is POISON.

    I love Cherub's disarming honesty (to go with his planned naughtiness).... you & Fixit must just want to hug him to bits when he says things like that!

  14. I don't mind Earl Grey. I prefer Dilmah or English Breakfast though.

    I do use teabags. No sugar. Do drink from a Wedgewood white bone china mug my lovely cousin gave me.

    Love the matter of fact exchange.

  15. A spit to infinity on the Earl Grey. If I wanted perfume in my tea, I'd just add a wee drop of Chanel No.5.

    I'm a little scared to make M a cup of tea when she's at my place. I think I'd be absolutely too terrified to make you one. I do a good latte though...

  16. My 12 year old STILL tries to pull this crap, with the "why don't you go downstairs and check something" and thinks he is SO SLICK. Ha!

    And I love a bit of Earl Grey. Or even Lady Grey. But then I'm an American; we haven't known what to do with tea since we dumped a bunch of it in some harbor 200-odd years ago.

  17. I still quite get my head around the milk in tea thing over here... we generally don't do that in the states, but here it is the norm.

  18. Agree with the Earl Grey thing, tastes like someone spilt perfume in there. You know when you lick your arm after you put your scent on? Oh, is it just me who does that?

    Anyway, I am particular about my tea, but not that bad. I have tea bags, and any old cup will do, as long as it is smaller. Cannot handle a mug of tea. I am more forgiving with coffee, so I tend to have coffee when I am out, and only drink tea at home.

  19. PS. I don't really lick my arm, but I have been known to spill something like milk or chocolate, and then lick it off. THAT'S when I get the perfume! I'm weird, but not that weird, ok?

  20. I do love my English Breakfast or Dilmah, Orange Pekoe in the afternoon and Irish Breakfast once in a while just to mix it up. I married a tea nazi who loves his Earl and Lady Greys, but I prefer not to feel like I'm drinking from a hot vase of flowers. I prefer to introduce sugar to my tea only in biscuit or chocolate form, but I will always double sugar Stomper's.


  21. When I grow up and drink tea, I will come back and take notes. Til then, if we get a chance to catch up IRL, I will just suggest we go to the Tin Pot and they can make tea for you and I'll have a freshly squeezed juice. Love the faces and the conversations, you will be so glad to have captured all these priceless moments one day.

  22. Poor maligned earl grey! I adore a cup of earl grey, meself ... and I've never understood the concept of sugar in tea (or on brekky cereal). I reckon tea - otherwise known in our house as Drink Of The Gods - has a brilliant flavour all of its own.
    A great post!

  23. Earl Grey - muck???? stop that Blaspheming!!! I too am extremely fussy with me tea - I am a three sugar girl though. I know - gross! but who else is going to feed the tapeworm???

  24. I've heard sharply divided opinion on the boiling matter and, time permitting, I'd like you to expound on the matter.


  25. But sweetness thy name IS Cherub.

  26. Oh.My.Gawd. That is hilarious!

    The only problem is - I adore Earl Grey. Can we no longer be friends now?!


  27. Make mine no sugar - and i'll have the Earl Grey you despise - taebag is fine too!

  28. Some people think it's acceptable to boil the kettle, then leave it a few minutes before pouring onto the tea leaves. This is wrong. If you can have the water still bubbling you get maximum flavour from your tea. Once the boiLING water hits the tea you let it sit for a bit, drawing. I'm sorry not to know the science behind this (I don't know the science behind the bone china either but it improves flavour enormously) but I know Frank McCourt and Angela back me up.

  29. You do make nice tea Stomper. Earl Grey, don't care, pot or bag, don't care, type of milk don't care, anything from none to one teaspoon of sugar, fine. Oh, and any cup will do, as long as it is clean and not chipped.

    It's easy to make tea for me. Other stuff could be more difficult.

    I am now more convinced then ever that I am the perpetrator of the terrible tea you had at someone's house, but couldn't remember whose.

  30. Also, we always have full cream milk here.

  31. Oh thank god, someone who understands proper tea.

    And Joke, tea must be made with boilING water because of the oxygen (or something). Once it's gone OFF the boil it's de-oxygenated (or something) and is only suitable for coffee. And Earl Grey drinkers, poor dears.

  32. LOL. I get the distinct feeling that Fixit was on to him the whole time.

  33. Wow, you and my husband are so similar!
    He has to have a tea cup, hates Earl Grey (loves Twinings Afternoon Tea) and also has very specific instructions about how to make a cup of tea.
    He also spent ages research tea pots (I didn't know you could research tea pots) to come up with the perfect one which of course had to be an expensive one.
    All tastes like crap to me!

  34. It's very difficult to find loose tea over here, so I tend to use Twinings - I'm partial to Lady Grey (ducks) and Laspang Souchong - or Barry's Gold, when I can get my Irish friend to ship some to me.

    I use a Brown Betty teapot, rinsed first with scalding hot water. Tea bags in, then boilING water over. Steep for 4 minutes. Pour milk into a pottery mug (my second favourite, since my absolute favourite developed a crack two years ago *sob*), then the tea, then the sugar. And never, ever, EVER put the wet teaspoon back into the sugar bowl.

    I am still on a quest for the perfect sugar bowl spoon. My mother has one, but she will not part with it, the selfish cow.

  35. I gave you Earl Grey.
    From a teabag.

    I didn't do any of the other things right either, but you were obviously very sweet about it, as I did not see you spit on my floor.

    We like to like the rim of the Vegemite jar here. And stick our fingers into the butter. UGH !

    If I were you, i'd buy another sugarbowl. One for Mummy, and one for 'all the other slobs' :p

  36. lol @ Cherub. Subtlety, thy name is not Chickie either.


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