Rush, rush, rush — especially during the holidays, and if one tends to be a bit absent-minded anyway, teatime can be somewhat surprising and challenging.

Tea preparation is a fairly orderly business. Certain steps are required in a certain order. The steps and the order might vary by the type and specific tea being prepared. However, heating the water is usually one of the first steps. Adding the hot water to the pot or mug (or gaiwan or kyusu, etc.) with the tea in it is usually the second step. You’d think such simple tasks wouldn’t need that much concentration.

Think again.

Maybe it’s not fair blaming the increasingly fast pace of my life as the holidays draw nearer. There was that incident awhile back when I forgot the tea steeping in the pot and let it go much longer than it should have, resulting in a quite bitter potful. That was an exception, though, and I had a very good excuse: the phone rang and it was a recruiter asking if I was available for a job. In these economic times it would hardly be sensible to say, “So sorry, my Sencha is steeping. I can’t talk now.” I had no such excuse for the most recent event, thus, my falling back on the excuse of a busy holiday schedule.

Picture this:

You heat the water, you warm the teapot, you pour the water into the teapot and cover it with a cozy. You wait patiently while it steeps, counting the seconds and minutes until you can pour out a hot cupful. Then, ding! You pour and…

It suddenly becomes clear (in more ways than one) to you that something’s missing from this picture — tea!

Thus was my misadventure. The pot was full of “perfectly steeped” hot water! Well, on the bright side, there was no chance of it oversteeping. Plus, it’s caffeine-free and lo-cal. (I’m trying to be positive here.)

The best thing to do when something like this occurs is to start over from the very beginning, including using fresh water heated just right. Dump out the water from the teapot and dry it before adding in the tea (assuming you steep your tea loose). Add the water to the pot and cover with the cozy. Set the timer (which I have forgotten to do more than once) for the proper time. Occupy yourself with something that won’t be too distracting while you wait for the timer to run out. Then, when it dings, strain out the liquid into another warmed teapot (or into a measuring cup, then dump out the tea leaves, and put the tea back into the teapot).

Phew! Much better. I guess a bit of focusing is a good thing while making tea, not to mention leaving the phone off the hook. Enjoy!

Make sure to check out A.C.’s blog, Tea Time with A.C. Cargill!

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