tea time-out

Long ago I broke with our family tradition (tea at four) and became a tea-at-breakfast person. Nice tea. Big leaves, preheated pot, boiling-hot fresh filtered water, a ceramic sieve (which needs to be slightly lifted at one edge with a spoon handle, when pouring in the water, or the tea bubbles out at the spout. Its seeming impracticability has led to many sarcastic remarks by persons who don’t have to use it, but liked my tea), milk in the cup before pouring the tea and no sugar, IF you please.

Try that in a hotel or a coffee shop. A tea bag is selected with difficulty – do I go for the pile of Earl Grey bags, should I relieve the last battered bag of English Breakfast of its agony or do I take one of these fruit flavors that make me bounce about like Roger Rabbit and see funny colors in the periphery of my vision? The tea water lurks and simmers on a heating plate in a coffee pitcher-on-leave. The least I can do is to put the tea bag in the cup and pour the water, instead of the other way round. The result is in any case – nah, we don’t go there.

The library bars of both Stena Line boats that go between Göteborg and Kiel have a different routine: I order a cup of tea. The person at the bar fills a cup with hot water out of a machine. Then I pay. After stowing away my money, the cup is handed over to me. I carry the cup with the cooling water to a tray where a selection of tea bags waits for their doom. Rip-plotch. Low taste, low heat, low calories.

Sweden is the country of coffee: that is always hot here.

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