The REAL Time It Takes to Prepare Tea

Digital Tea Timer (ETS Image)
Digital Tea Timer (ETS Image)

In your busy schedule every minute is precious, so it’s good to know the real time things take, not the “fast-talking salesman going through his spiel” time. They are masters at making their products seem easier, faster, and overall better than that “junk” you have now. Tea is no exception.

As a former project manager, it absolutely makes me cringe to hear someone say, “You can have a tasty cuppa tea in a few minutes.” (“Few”?) If I ran my projects that way, the Vice President or Director of such-and-such department would have had my head on the proverbial silver platter. So, maybe we should start things off right here by looking at the real time it takes to prepare tea.

The process starts when you say “let’s have tea” — time needed: anywhere from a nanosecond to a few minutes.

You head to the kitchen from wherever you are (your desk in your cubicle in some stuffy office building or your spot on the floor of the store you work in or the rooftop of that house you’re stripping of old asphalt shingles and recovering with something that will actually keep out the rain or from your den in your house/apartment/condo) — time needed: quite a range here; my guess for each is (in order) 30 seconds, 5 minutes (customers will keep stopping you to ask where something is), 10 minutes (includes climbing down the ladder from the roof and washing up a bit), and 10 seconds. Add 5 minutes to each of these if you have to answer the call of nature first.

Select a tea — time needed: again a wide variation here, depending on how much a creature of habit you are. If you tend to go for a favorite each time, this is a very fast step in the process. Otherwise, you could stand in front of your stash of tea for as long as 20 minutes (as I have done more than once) and contemplate the options.

Heat the water — time needed: depends on the temperature of the water for the type of tea and varies from 2 minutes in the microwave to about 20 minutes for rolling boil water heated on the stovetop.

Set up the accoutrements — time needed: oh boy, this is a toughie. Do you do gongfu style with a tea table, Yixing or gaiwan vessel, chahai, etc.? Or do you steep using a teabag and a mug? Or maybe you use a regular teapot such as a Brown Betty? Also, how handy are these things? Do you leave them out and within easy reach? Do you have to tuck them away in a cupboard or desk drawer? (If the latter, you have to go back to the second step here and get your items unless you thought to bring them with you.)

Steep the tea — time needed: again a wide range. Are you going to be doing a rinse/wash of the leaves first? Are you just dunking that teabag in the water? Is it a white, green, oolong, pu-erh, or black tea? Lots of variables. The range here can be 10 seconds to as long as 10 minutes. The average is 3 to 5 minutes.

The process ends when you pour that first cuppa (or pull out the teabag. Here is where the clock stops ticking, figuratively speaking. Drinking that tea seems to make time hover and slow. It doesn’t really, but the perception is very strong.

Here’s wishing you the time you need to properly prepare and enjoy your tea!

See also: The Project Manager’s Approach to Tea Tasting

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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