In Defense of Hot Tea

hot teaThese past few days have been gray, dreary, and rainy. And there’s nothing better on a rainy day than hot tea, music, and a good book. Tea is amazing. No matter the mood, there are teas to match. Lady Grey or Earl Grey pairs best with rain and a book. English Breakfast and Chai are my usual morning choices, while evening requires a gentle herbal. Green tea with lemon and honey does wonders for a sore throat. And of course fruity iced tea is the official beverage of summer.

I take my hot tea in the “British” fashion, with cream and sugar. Strange, isn’t it? Iced tea is as true-blue American as it gets, but hot black tea (especially when served with cream and sugar) is considered almost exclusively British. Yet at one point in our history, tea was as common here as it is over the pond. I think we can blame the “un-Americanization” of hot tea on a single pivotal event: the Boston Tea Party. Why, oh why, did it have to be tea that they dumped in Boston harbor? Why couldn’t it have been beer? Or coffee? If it had been anything else, we might all still be drinking it with every meal. Maybe we’d even still have the custom of taking tea as a fourth meal. Now there’s a custom that merits reviving. Tea and a snack midafternoon? Oh yeah! About 2 or 3 o’clock when the day gets a little draggy, it’s the perfect pick-me-up. And it’s so customizable – hot tea in winter, iced tea in summer, and the snack part can be whatever you want. The rest of America may continue their coffee craze if they please; as for me, I will be a lifelong drinker of tea in all its forms.

P.S. To make the perfect cuppa hot tea, steep 1 teaspoon loose black tea or 1 teabag in 6 ounces of almost boiling water for 3-4 minutes. Stir in a small spoonful of turbinado sugar and a splash of cream or milk. Voila! British-style hot tea.