Sometimes it seems to take forever to do the simplest things. Heating water to the proper temperature for my tea is one such task. Thank goodness my hyperactive mind knows how to make good use of this time. For example, it started cogitating on the various ways our lives have gotten faster and the times when that’s not necessarily a good thing.
The Supersonic Transport (SST) could cross the Atlantic in half the time of conventional jets. Henry Ford devised the assembly line and reduced car production from months to less than an hour (and reduced the cost down to where the average worker could afford the simpler models). You can pop popcorn in about 3 minutes in the microwave (hey, when I want popcorn, I want it now!).
So much for the good things.
There are a few things that seem like good ideas because they supposedly save time. Sadly, they also expose you to risk of having something happen that takes time to recover from. In my book, that makes them bad things, in line with the saying, “Haste makes waste.” For one, leaving your car running while you pop into a store for a quick purchase seems fast. Saves you the time it takes to turn off the engine and remove the key from the ignition and then restart the car when your shopping is done. If you think your car will still be there when you come back out of the store, you are probably not living in one of this country’s major urban areas — or you beat the odds!
You can rush your tea enjoyment, too. Or you can be patient and wait. Electric tea kettles are supposed to heat water a few seconds faster than in a regular kettle on an electric stove. If you’re desperate for that first morning cuppa, this is good. If you want a little time to commune with your thoughts, this is bad. Alternately, if you want to follow the ancient guidelines for how to determine when the water is the right temperature, you need to heat it in an open pot and watch the build up of bubbles (fish eye size, tiger eye size, dragon eye size, etc.). Again, patience is a virtue here.
There are teas that undergo quick steepings (30 seconds or so) such as some Tie Guan Yins (Tie Kuan Yins) and Formosa Green (steep for about one minute). There are also teas that need time to steep and exude their flavors fully into the water. Most black teas need 5 to 6 minutes. A Chinese black called Hong Jing Luo (Golden Bi Lou) has a recommended steep time of 5 to 7 minutes. Then, there are teas that get better the longer you store them, such as some pu-erhs, which can also be steeped as long as 10 minutes.
The trick in all this seems to be knowing when it’s best to be fast, and when best to be slow. True of travel, car-building, popcorn, turning off your car engine before running into a shop, and most of all when enjoying teas. Salute!
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