How to Drink Tea (Like a Goddamn Gentleman)

by Guest Author on February 23, 2012 · 8 comments

"Gimme a tea, you bastard. Please."

(This is a guest post by Kole McRae of Chilled Soda. If you’re interested in guest posting at Tao of Bachelorhood, you can find out more here.)

You are a gentleman. I am dubbing you one and you are going to learn to drink tea like one. This is important and is a skill that you will use for the rest of your life (if you know what’s good for you).

The art of drinking tea (like a goddamn gentleman) has been around for thousands of years. Ancient British and Chinese cultures had complex and sometimes beautiful rituals around the tea serving process. These rituals have changed over the years but many of the basics have remained exactly the same.

These rituals weren’t made up just for the hell of it. Who would go through all that crap just for tea? Hell, you could just buy some from the guy at ye olde Starbucks.

They created these rituals as a form of meditation and relaxation. The tea ceremony helped people clear their mind, relax, reduce stress and generally figure things out. Other forms of meditation include chanting, dancing or even counting to ten, but this form actually produces something delicious.

So I am going to teach you these basics.

Why? Because it will impress women, impress your boss and get some culture into your head.

There are two kinds of tea drunk around the world: bagged and loose-leaf. The instructions I shall bequeath upon you will work fine for both. I’ll make amendments where necessary. You should use loose leaf though…seriously.

Loose leaf tea has a slew of benefits. It can be reused multiple times, it tastes about 400,000,000 times better and the price really isn’t that much higher. Not to mention it just screams sophistication when you open a drawer to make tea and pull out tins of dried leaves imported from around the world…versus opening a box of Tetley.

Back to my lesson:

First, get out your ceramic teapot. Metal teapots will not do. Seriously, metal changes the taste, get a nice ceramic one. This teapot is never to be washed with soap. You may clean it after use with hot water and hot water alone. Take some boiling water and pour it into the teapot, swirl it around a bit. Think you’re done? Swirl it a bit more to be sure. Now you’re done.

Next, take some pure, cold water and bring it to boil in a tea kettle, saucepan…any way you wish. Before it boils—like, a few seconds before that water starts to fully boil, take it off the stove and pour it into the teapot.

This is not tea yet. Do not drink it.

For each person who is joining you in this tea adventure, put one spoonful of tea leaves into the pot and then add one more “for the pot.” If you’re using tea bags, just use one tea bag per person and one extra for the pot. But why the hell would you use tea bags? Are you some kind of animal?

Let it sit for six minutes. It is now tea. The tea leaves should have settled, but tip the tea pot gently as you pour to make sure they stay at the bottom.

Pour the newly made tea first into your friends’ cups, and then into yours. It is customary to do it in a clockwise direction starting immediately to your left. You must be using tea cups, not mugs. You may then add milk and sugar to taste, although why you would do such a thing to the beauty of tea (tarnishing it with your wicked milk) is beyond me.

You absolutely must serve biscuits at this point. If you don’t, you are liable to be shot on sight.

Play some jazz or classical music and enjoy.

Kole McRae is the writer behind Chilled Soda, a site devoted to the chill things in life.

8 comments… read them below or add one

Denny February 26, 2012 at 12:46 pm

I’ve never thought of drinking tea before, and yes, that’s because it didn’t seem manly. But I can use the meditation. Thanks!

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TimD February 27, 2012 at 12:33 pm

This article sucks and is inaccurate, or at minimum throws a bunch of generalizations together to cover a topic that really takes much more.

First, don’t stress over being too proper with tea – just friggin’ enjoy it. HOWEVER… there is a proper way to brew tea and MOST tea will be bitter of steeped for 6 minutes with near boiling water. Some teas require as little as 1 1/2 minutes with water at 175 degrees to come out properly. Too much time or water that is too hot and you’re going to fack it up.

I’m not an expert, but it’s obvious that the guy that wrote this article isn’t either. He’s likely spent about 20 minutes reading tea blogs and threw this shit together. If you want to get into tea do yourself a favor and find a few more articles to read first and if possible just head down to a teahouse and tell them you’re new to tea and want to try some things out.

PS – I LOL’d at “Ancient British”.

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Michael February 27, 2012 at 1:02 pm

Thanks for your opinion, Tim.

I’ve found it interesting that even many tea connoisseurs seem to differ on steeping time and tea type (seems dependent on brewing method/temp) and water temperature (I’ve heard it said that the kettle must whistle or the water isn’t hot enough, and heard that boiling water is too hot).

In the end, this article is a beginning. As I’ve learned as a coffee expert (and I’m about to show in a new video), personal taste is the biggest part of the process. Someone new to tea will try it one way, then another and settle on the way it tastes best.

PS: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Britons_%28historical%29

T. Leif June 7, 2012 at 1:52 pm

I agree with Tim, the author has no idea. For instance the author asserts it is wrong to add milk to tea, while this may be the case for white or green tea I don’t know anyone that doesn’t add milk to black tea. I could go on.

Perhaps in future you should solicit guest post from people who actually know what they are talking about.

P.S: I too LOLed at ‘Ancient British’, tea wasn’t introduced to Europe until the late Middle ages / early Renaissance period

Reply

Michael June 7, 2012 at 2:18 pm

Again, thanks for your opinion. As someone who has been drinking tea since grade school yet prefers no milk in it, I’d suggest maybe you should try it sometime.

The truth is, there’s a lot of variation in how people worldwide enjoy tea. Kole offered one man’s interpretation, and might I say, attracted a lot of attention by doing so. I might not agree with everything there myself, but I rarely agree with every sentence anyone writes, regardless of their expertise.

At this point I’ll mention that civil discourse is required here. While offering your differing opinion is always welcome, maligning the author himself is strictly off-limits and further comments doing so will be removed.

Joe August 12, 2013 at 11:48 pm

I’ve always heard that one never adds the tea leaves to the water: always add the water to the tea. I agree with Tim, 6 min of near boiling water seems much too long and at much too high of a temperature, at least for a first brew, although to each his own.

Reply

Michael August 25, 2013 at 11:42 am

Thanks Joe!

I’ve always wondered what scientific difference it makes whether the tea leaves touch the water or the water touched the tea. My testing showed no difference, but I may not have the well-developed palate of a tea connoisseur.

Bluedoggy March 22, 2016 at 11:44 pm

BILLY TEA CEREMONY.
My comrade of Indian extraction is a real education on tea. Myself, I have been a keen exponent of the Australian billy. If you’re not Australian, think of a tin pot with no spout and a wire handle. Used mostly for camping in the past, it has become a popular mainstay of my dinners – especially my black iron cookouts.
I use gum leaves, lemon myrtle and I love lapsang souchong for its realistic, original smokey tea flavour which you often get in the campfire.
I reckon you will impress a lady with the billy. I simmer it up, put the lid on and… clearing the floor… spin it around the head in the recommended manner. The hot tea is safe and the tea settles to the bottom, making a strainer somewhat uneccesary.
It is a rugged method, culturally. But it is a definite break from tea bags, with tea that is just delicious.
I use powdered milk, since it is original to the bush style. Ashok, my Indian friend, says Indians love to use powdered milk also, because it leaves the tea hot.
Please to add my Aussie approach. I am sure your women will find this quite a spectacle.
BLUEDOGGY

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