Do you sit your teacup on a cup-warmer to keep the tea from cooling too quickly? Well, I do and have learned the hard way why that can be a bad idea sometimes. In fact, more than once, I have had a real cup-warmer catastro-TEA!
WARNING: At the end of this article is a very ugly photo. No! Don’t scroll down and peek! Oh, okay, go ahead, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.
There…is your curiosity satisfied? On with my story.
Sometimes when I’m busy in the second floor office of our house, I use a cup warmer so my tea doesn’t cool too quickly, necessitating that I run downstairs to the kitchen to re-warm it in the microwave. (Yes, I can hear you purists gasping in horror at the thought of tea being reheated in a microwave.) There are some teas, such as delicate whites and oolongs, that don’t take too well to such treatment. However, a hearty Assam steeped up strong with milk and sweetener does just fine, as do other black teas such as Keemuns, Ceylons, Kenyans, and Autumn Flush Darjeelings. (Am I forgiven for my blasphemous use of a microwave now?)
Milk is another matter. It has this tendency to — gee, how do I put this gently? — “gather” at the top of the cup with all the tiny molecules holding hands and singing “Kumbaya” or some such song (if you lean real close to the cup, you can hear them, sort of like Horton hearing those Whos). In other words, the milk forms a layer of scum. Shudder!
If I sip the tea often enough, it keeps the surface sufficiently active to prevent this natural formation. However, if I get really engrossed in my tweeting on Twitter, commenting on Facebook, researching tea information online, etc., then the scum creeps up, coating the surface of the tea in the cup. Distractedly, I take a sip and… ewww! a big wad of scum gets in my mouth. That’s a true catastro-TEA!
Another big issue is that as the tea gets lower in the cup sip by sip, it also gets warmer and warmer until it’s downright hot! Tragic for those teas too delicate to be overheated. Some of these teas are steeped in liquid heated to around 160˚ F or even cooler. So getting them too hot on a cup-warmer can ruin the flavor. I tend to fix smaller quantities of these and sip them. No need to worry about the tea cooling.
Some teas that taste great with milk and that can therefore sit on a cup-warmer:
- Breakfast Blend No. 1
- Breakfast Blend No. 2
- Irish Breakfast
- Scottish Breakfast
- Barry’s Gold Blend
- Tarajulie Estate Assam
- Borengajuli Estate Assam
- Holiday Spice Black
- Pumpkin Spice Black
- Indian Spiced Chai
- Keemun Panda
- Monk’s Blend
- Blackcurrant Black
- Scottish Caramel Toffee Pu-erh
- Young Pu-erh (steeped for 8 to 10 minutes)
Now, a moment of silence for the brave cuppa tea that gave it’s existence for this photo: