As a regular reader of Christopher Hitchens, I noticed this week's column took a departure from his usual criticisms of international dictators and those that enable them (cough, cough, Henry Kissinger) to write a screed about lousy tea habits. As a tea enthusiast myself, I had to agree with a number of the Englishman's points.
First off, tea rules. When the British first started importing it from their Asian outposts (perhaps filling the ships for the return journeys after sending over India Pale Ale), it must have come as a welcome relief to have something tasty to counterbalance the bland cooking of the British Isles. Tea of course became big business, and the taxes imposed on it were a key cause of the American break with the mother country and the subsequent rise in popularity of coffee here. Which is sort of a shame, because while coffee has its moments, tea is both better for you and better tasting. Just contrast the responses in two scenarios:
Jolly English Chap: Hey, good sir, we're out of tea. Pity.
Rough American Dude: We're out of coffee??? This isn't good for my rage issues....
Second, Hitchens is completely right about the fact that the hot water must be poured on the teabag (or better yet, unbagged tea), rather than the bag dipped in the cooling water. Gotta unlock the flavor, folks! Though his discussion of milk or cream in the tea is lost on me, since I'm a purist on that front. No dairy in the tea for this guy!
I guess the one paragraph that was left out of his article was the part about how if you go to a restaurant and they provide you bad iced tea rather than the fresh brewed kind you're supposed to beat them over the head with your placemat.