Yesterdays entry was rather lofty; time for a tea break.

In the past few weeks, several Spo-fans have e-mailed me to ask various questions about on my own opinions of tea. I thought I would arrange some of the inquiries in interview form.

When and how did you start drinking tea? I started drinking tea when I was around 6 years old. I had a nanny and yes she was British. “Bessie” would have all her kiddies over and host tea parties. We learned how to drink tea and the manners around a proper afternoon tea.  The other early influence was my maternal grandmother, who drank tea rather than coffee. Her choice was Red Rose.  To this day when I have a cup of Red Rose tea I think of her.

How does one learn about tea? The answer is simple really: try as many types as you can!  There a lot of varieties; you never know what you like until you try it. One of my teachers said tea is like learning about lovemaking –  you do it discreetly, privately, and with passion.

Do you use tea bags? I do, epecially when I travel, for this is the best way to guarantee getting a real cup, no rubbish. The shredded bits of tea found in tea bags is called “dust”. And most is as good as dust. However, if you start with a good quality tea, its dust can make a cuppa. I recommend Twinings Tea as a good source for consistent quality tea bags. And you can get a variety pack to try the different types.

Would you buy tea at a Coffee Shop? The aroma of coffee is stronger than the aroma of tea, so the taste of the latter is often blocked by the former. So, it is hard to drink tea overwhelmed by the smell of the beans. Coffee house staff usually don’t know how to brew a decent cup of tea – at least not here in the United States. In Canada I can get a decent cup of tea even in most diners.  I confess I find it amusing to go to Starbucks and order a cup of tea, if only to see the reaction.

What about the water? Yes, it is important. “Bad water” ruins tea. Start with fresh cold running water. Ofttimes local water has minerals and other trace elements. Always try to use filtered water. Bad water makes tea either taste all the same or worse, taste bad.

If I drink tea, will my life change?  Heavens, what a question!  Why don’t you start drinking some and find out?

What is your favorite tea? This is like asking what is my favorite wine. It all depends on my mood and the circumstances. In the morning, I like a good strong wake me up black tea. Barry’s is my favorite. I put milk in it. In the afternoon I like green tea. Oolong tastes best after a meal.  I suppose the writer of this question really wants to know is what is ‘my favorite’.  That is Margaret’s Hope, which is an ‘estate tea’  from India.  It is a darjeerling tea. I like my darjeerling “second growth”. This is tea made from leaves picked in the second round of harvest.

If I have you over, would you make me some? Yes, I would love to. When should I come over?  I’ll provide the tea if you provide the kettle. If that is what you meant !