Pouring tea is how we get the tea from the pot to the cup, and that’s about all there is to it. Right? Well, perhaps not so much, now that you mention it. There’s actually a little more to it than that. As previous articles in these pages have noted, you can learn how to pour tea in the proper British style and the mechanics of the teapot spout might have an effect on the tea itself.
Or you can pour tea like a Moroccan waiter, which is to say holding the teapot far from the cup and performing a death defying feat that supposedly almost never sees a drop of tea go astray. According to various sources, this is done throughout northern Africa, where the preferred tea is gunpowder green served with a healthy dose of mint and sugar. All of which is done to aerate the tea and thus improve the flavor, to give it a head like beer, or to cool it down – or perhaps a combination of all of these.
Which is an activity that’s not confined to Morocco, mind you. In Malaysia, a similar process is used to make teh tarik, a sweet black tea that’s made with condensed milk. Or you can do a cursory search of the web and can find a number of videos of intrepid Chinese tea pouring acrobats. Who perform amazing feats using special teapots with long thin spouts. Here’s an example. According to one Chinese tea blogger, high pouring (though presumably not of such an acrobatic variety) when pouring water to steep the leaves helps produce a better cup of tea as it agitates the leaves which then achieve more contact with the water.
Of course, I would probably be remiss if I wrote about tea pouring and didn’t discuss that pesky problem of why the teapot always drips when you’re finished pouring your tea. The problem was apparently solved by a team of scientists a few years back but whether teapot makers got the memo or not is up in the air – pardon the expression.
See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.
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