I’m deeply uncool.
Also deeply unhealthy, it would seem.
Now that I’m in my late thirties, my two cups of tea a day are indispensable. Others can have their lattes and mochas and filter coffees, but I need tea as much as… well as much as I need tea.
The kind of tea I like, is apparently, Builder’s tea and it is preferred by construction workers on their tea breaks. This is when you add milk and sugar to your brew. Specifically, it’s the kind of tea you make with a teabag, hot water and milk. I may construct words and ideas rather than apartment blocks, but it’s the type of tea I make for myself in my office cafeteria.
The tea I make at home comes in for its fair share of snobbery. It calls for a little more effort than throwing a teabag into a paper cup and humming tunelessly while the electric kettle steams up – but not much more. I measure out milk and water together into the pan, wait for it to reach a near boil and dump the tea leaves right in. I then boil this concoction some more, stir in sugar and strain it.
This restricts my washing up to just three things; which is key if you’re as lazy or rushed as I am.
Going back to my office cafeteria – figuratively – when I go in to get my tea, there’s usually someone there fiddling about with spoons and cups, brewing a healthful cup of green tea or a trendy decaf. These people watch in fascination as I proceed to add sugar (a teaspoon and a half) and milk (usually a dairy whitener).
As their cups froth, they can’t stop the words from spilling out of their mouths, “What, milk and sugar?”
For milky tea does not have the sophistication of black, green, oolong or jasmine. It’s mundane, pedestrian, expected.
Then they add the clincher: Milky tea is unhealthy. And sugar, why, that’s unthinkable. And so they judge me on my one-and-a-half-spoonfuls, right before they go down to the food-court and order themselves a quarterpounder and fries.
In defense of my unsophisticated, unhealthy habit, I sometimes bleat that I have barely any vices. I seldom drink, do not smoke, eat very little junk food, avoid too much oil or salt, have cut down on colas, sweets and starchy foods, and I’m vegetarian too.
What can I do but sip my sweet milky tea, and smile?
But before I go here’s a steaming cup of something beautiful – this wonderfully curated blog Once Upon a Teatime, that’s full of gorgeous textiles, decor vignettes and pictures of pretty teacups and tea.