There is dramatic generational movement in the tea situation. It used to be that the only truly reliable cup of tea to be had in Charlottetown was at Catherine Hennessey’s: her combination of special boilings, cup pre-heating, quality tea and other untold secrets resulted in a cup that rendered most restaurant tea, and any tea I might make myself, seem like thin tasteless swill by compare. And, indeed, Catherine still makes an excellent cup of tea.

But she now has competition: I had the favour of having a cup of tea brewed by Karen Mair last night, and it was the equal of Catherine’s. A rare and special discovery indeed.


Steven Garrity's picture
Steven Garrity on November 11, 2002 - 14:17 Permalink

Pardon the off-topic post Peter, but I noticed that in your link to Catherine Hennessey’s site, you linked her name, but not the “ ‘s” at the end of the name. I think this makes sense, but looks awkward. I’ve tried to find if there is a convention for this anywhere, but I’ve yet to turn up anything. Anyone?

Andrew's picture
Andrew on November 11, 2002 - 19:38 Permalink

Speaking of Catherine Hennessey’s site, I wonder what ever happened to her updating it. I really enjoy reading her stuff, as it is always a good read.

Kevin O's picture
Kevin O on November 13, 2002 - 17:15 Permalink

Ahhh, my pet peeve! Tea. There isn’t a restaurant in PEI who knows how to make Tea (and I do not mean tea) except Vivas (and they are in desperate need of an apostrophe because without it their name is pronounced similarly to a very poor single malt scotch called Chivas which was immortalized in a song by Dan Fogleberg but I SERIOUSLY digress…)

There is one and only one way to make Tea and it is as follows:
1) Boil water

This is relatively simple but it’s the most common problem with that hot beverage that most restaurants call tea. Water must boil. There is a tremendous energy difference in water at 100C that is not boiling and water at 100C that is boiling. The energy is much higher in the boiling water and can release quite a bit before the water falls in temperature to the point where it can no longer destroy that “iron” or “steel” like taste that is part of the aerosols which are instantly formed when properly dried tea is re-hydrated.

What’s worse is that 95% (at least) of all restaurants think that the luke-warm stream from a coffee maker is hot enough to pour over tea bags. Even if it didn’t arrive at my table stinking of coff-tea (half Columbian, half Ceylon) IT’S TOO FUKI’N COLD TO MAKE A PROPER CUP OF TEA!

2) Warm the pot

This simply involves pouring some scalding water into a china pot (stainless is pretty good too), swirling it around, and doing it again just before putting the bag(s) in (or loose if that’s your preference). Skipping this step is forgivable in a commercial establishment but not otherwise and no other step is optional.

3) Put the bag (or loose) in the pot

What is with this crap? Why hand me a plastic cup, almost half full of warm water, and just in case it’s going to be too hot (impossible) or too strong (impossible when the water is near bath temp), place the bag on the side all nicely wrapped in paper so that it will take me LONGER to get it to the rapidly cooling water? Don’t do this folks… put the bag in the pot (naked) immediately after warming the pot.

4) Pour the boiling water over the bag(s) or loose tea

Does this actually have to be said? You betcha it does! The bags or loose must be in the pot and the water must hit the bags when it is still boiling. This is not optional, modifiable or negotiable. Just friggin’ do it please (if you’re serving yourself then do whatever you please, but if you’re serving a Tea drinker this is important).

Tea made by other methods is detectable simply by looking at it. There’s a foamy oily slick on the top of tea made with water that’s not boiling (even if it’s 100C when it hits the bags). In addition to that it tastes like iron and develops the tannins (very bitter) about 10 times faster than Tea made with the proper method.

And so to review: 1) boil, 2) warm pot, 3) tea in pot, 4) pour BOILING water onto bags (don’t miss the bags). And NEVER humiliate a tea bag by squeezing it with a spoon or fork and (god help us!) never stir a pot of tea (the Brits have taken to doing this in the past 10 years and I just can’t figure out why.