‘Tea’totaller: Learning the Art of Making Tea


Author – Gulraj Singh Bedi

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I spent the entire Saturday evening learning the art of making tea. Yes, you heard it right, I was learning the so-called ‘art’ of preparing a hearty cup of tea! Preparing tea, in my opinion, is a major exercise. It consists of a pot full of boiling water, some tea leaves, milk and sugar. Well, let me tell you, it isn’t that simple a task. Tea, I believe, is the perfect way of consuming herbs.

A friendly argument between me and my mother ended up ruining the cricket match I was supposed to be a part of. Who says only women are the sole custodians of this precious art of preparing food and tea. My mother, who I believe leads a rather simple life, decided to teach me a lesson. She took a vessel and asked me to prepare four cups of tea.

For a bookworm like me preparing these cups of tea was no less than rocket science, but I still thought of giving it a try. So, I took four cups of water, poured them into the vessel. This was just the beginning of the ordeal. In a fit of excitement, I forgot to light the stove. (I realized this much later 🙂  Then I began adding milk, sugar and tea powder. And then suddenly, I realized that the water isn’t boiling.

My mind had entered into a state of oblivion. I never realized that making a cup of tea would be such a ‘formidable’ task. The task was perhaps tough because I didn’t even have the slightest of experiences when it came to preparing something as simple as a cup of tea and my acquaintance with food and beverages was confined to the dinner table.

Okay, let’s return to my tea-making session, which was no less elaborate than a Japanese tea ceremony. I lighted a match stick but never realized that the stove is electronic and that it doesn’t require me to light a match stick. So, after several failed attempts, I finally succeeded in putting that stove to work. The water started boiling and so did the contents I had added in the pot/vessel. I could see that the thickness of milk had been diluted. To me, it appeared that the water was boiling not because of the heat created by the electric stove but because of the heat of the situation.

I am a writer so, don’t expect me to be sane, but insanity too, has its limits, but in my case, there weren’t any :). There’s a popular saying in Hindi – ‘aate-daal ka bhaav pata hona’ and this saying could be easily applied to me. So, after three failed attempts, the water and the contents poured in could be seen boiling. A soothing aroma had engulfed the entire kitchen. I strongly believe that a wintery evening and a hearty cup of tea are the best of friends. What good would be the cold of winter without the soothing aroma of tea to give the season of winter its sweetness?

Tea Shop India

Meanwhile, my tea making lesson was turning out to be quite a lesson. When my mother entered after 20 minutes, the tea was ready (I would like to believe it was more or less ready). All of us sat with the tea cups lying right in front of us. I was quite certain that this tea-making exercise had turned out to be an exercise in futility. It took me quite a lot of courage to lift the cup and bring it close to my lips. Frankly, a cup of tea never felt this heavy to me 🙂

The first sip was the toughest of them all, but to my surprise and an extremely pleasant one at that, the tea did not taste all that bad. It needed a slight bit of an improvement, but that was acceptable with a novice like me preparing it. Ah, so finally, my misery had ended and it was one of those small lessons which ended up teaching me that not even the smallest of things as simple as preparing a cup of tea, cannot be taken for granted.


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