It's Hellweek! The first week of term has stomped around, my life is full of incessant student demands and queues for change of curriculum, advisors are defaulting in all directions, and I have random insomnia and am navigating all of the above on five hours of sleep. Despite which, I'm curiously cheerful, possibly because I'm manic on sleep deprivation, and propose to distract myself pleasantly by burbling about tea.
This morning's challenges were materially increased by the discovery that my campus Twinings cache was tragically empty. I have a serious Earl Grey addiction. I mean, serious. Six mugs a day serious, although more at the moment because I'm stressed, and continuous caffeine with bergamot apparently soothes me to the point where I don't actually go for student throats with my teeth. (My brower's spellchecker also doesn't know how to spell "bergamot", which I consider something of a personal betrayal). Said addiction is peculiarly crippling because a six cups a day habit has apparently habituated me to Twinings to the extent where any other brand tastes bizarre and unlikely. We will draw a veil over the cat-faces I make when forced by cruel circumstances to drink so-called "tea" that isn't Earl Grey at all. Inhuman, is what.
I am not only ridiculously picky about my tea brand, I am hyper-ridiculously picky about how I drink it. I don't like it too strong; the teabag must steep for no more than five seconds. I am not fond of that sense that tannin is coating my teeth, although even at my strength habits sheer volume is probably coating my stomach, and is definitely coating my mugs. Irreverent friends (possibly Phleep) have categorised my milk requirements as "Show it the cow"; rigorous testing with a measuring spoon reveals that in fact I need between 5 and 7 mls of milk to make it drinkable, and I have on occasion made myself tea, incautiously overmilked it, curled my lip, and poured the resulting tragic beverage down the sink before re-making it from scratch. I brought myself down from two spoons of sugar to one about a decade ago, but haven't, despite frequent attempts, managed to reduce it any further. Since at present I'm evincing a tendency not to eat at all until supper, I figure I probably need the blood sugar. There is, in short, a good and sufficient reason why, if you offer me tea in your home, I will probably gently shoulder you aside and make it myself. Because, honestly, there's only so much I can expect from my friends, and precisely two of them have ever learned to make it to my exacting and unreasonable specifications.
People give me boxes of tea. It's very sweet. The aforementioned Phleep, who also takes his caffeine seriously, brings me tins from Harrods every so often, and it's my actually-palatable fallback for those terrible moments when all the supermarkets in my immediate radius run simultaneously out of Twinings. Occasionally students give me tea, as a thank-you for my intrepid negotiation of particularly uphill tracts of curriculum advice, also incidentally raising my hopes for the basic observation skills of the younger generation. Which brings me to the actual purpose of this post, which is to record for posterity the fact that something called "New English Teas", of which I have never heard prior to this kindly student donation, (a) does a nice line in pretty scrolly boxes and packaging their Earl Grey, (b) claims to be "BEST BEFORE END: 6153", which seems frankly unlikely, and (c) tastes almost, but not quite, completely unlike Earl Grey. However, I contrive to soldier on grimly.
On the general principle of sharing internet joy wherever it may be found, this
is a thing of subtle beauty whose payback, when you work it out, causes (a) giggling, and (b) forgiveness of the fact that it's actually a rickroll.
My subject line, not unnaturally, quotes "Tea for Two", which, since we seem to be doing random personal factoids today, I am fond of mostly because of an anecdote my father used to tell about Victor Borge playing it upside down.