Waiting for tea to steep can seem like an eternity in our fast-paced lives. It can be as if time is crawling by. Sort of like when you’re waiting for the pie to bake, the chicken to broil, the printer to print, the FAX machine to FAX, etc. Yet, this steeping time can be the most important part of the tea preparation process.
Imagine: You’ve selected just the right tea, deciding between Snow Dragon (a full-leaf white tea), Jasmine Green tea, Irish Breakfast (100% malty, rich-tasting Assam), or a champagne-like Darjeeling. You’ve filled the tea kettle and set it up to heat the water to the appropriate temperature — 180˚ F for the white and green teas and 212˚ F for the Irish Breakfast and Darjeeling. You’ve warmed the teapot and spooned in the appropriate amount of the dry tea. All that care taken — then you rush the steeping. Disaster!
Don’t become impatient now. You have to join that heated water with that dry tea in the teapot. Then, you have to find something to occupy your time while giving the two elements a chance to combine to form the tea “liquor.”
Many, many, many, many years ago when I was in grade school, I remembered reading a story about a little girl who taught herself how to read time. While her siblings were busy helping their grandmother bake pies and other delicious treats, she sat on a stool in the kitchen watching the hands of the clock and trying to figure out how soon the pies would be ready. When all their tasks were done and the pies were cooled enough to eat, the little girl and her siblings gathered at the kitchen table for a warm pie slice and a glass of cold milk. They asked her what she had been doing, and she told them she had learned how to tell time. They talked about how the time had flown by for them, but she said it had crawled by.
That’s personal perception. Staying busy makes time seem to go by more quickly. Just ask any mother who is getting the kids up in the morning. It’s seems like only minutes between when she calls them to wake up and when the school bus arrives.
Waiting the three, four, or five minutes for your tea to steep can also seem to crawl by. You have a choice here, though. You can busy yourself with some task, or you can watch the second hand on the analog clock complete its 360˚ rotation around the clock’s face past the 12 digits marking the hours. Tick…tick…tick…
A few suggestions on time-speeding activities:
- Re-read Hugo’s Les Misérables (in the original French)
- Learn to play “Flight of the Bumblebee” on the zither
- Knit a few sweaters (you’ll be ahead of schedule for next Christmas)
- Plot the movement of every star in the sky over the Northern Hemisphere
- Compose a few variations on a theme by Paganini that Rachmaninov didn’t think of
Ding! See, the tea is steeped. Now, wasn’t that fast?
Pour out a cupful and enjoy slowly. That means put down the book, zither, knitting needles, star chart, and music paper and pen. This is one occasion where you want time to pass slowly. Enjoy!
If you don’t enjoy the works of Victor Hugo, playing the zither, knitting, astronomy or composing music, you could always stop by A.C.’s blog, Tea Time with A.C. Cargill, while you wait for your tea to steep!