Amteasia Defined

I updated the definition of amteasia to add the third part after some comments reminded me of another part of the affliction.  It should have been painfully obvious.

amteasia – n. – 1) the act of brewing a pot or cup of tea and forgetting about it until it is at room temperature and strong enough to strip paint.  2) drinking your cup of tea, forgetting you’ve done so, then looking at the bottom of your cup forlorningly.  3)  Forgetting where you placed your cup of tea.

It was just here! Photo courtesy of terremonto. https://www.flickr.com/photos/terremonto/2325338494
It was just here!             Photo courtesy of terremonto. https://www.flickr.com/photos/terremonto/2325338494

Of course, amteasia is a by-product of preoccupation, a mind adrift. You are working on a last minute report at work. You have a million and one projects at home to get done before the children return from school. You made that valiant attempt to carve out a small chunk of time to get a little pick-me-up with a digestive on the side, and it all went pear-shaped. For some of us, it was a lost opportunity in a cup or a pot. For others, the beverage was drunk, but the moment passed us by.  You are momentarily gutted.

Tea is a drink that is meant to be sipped and savored.  It can be enjoyed in solitude or with conversation depending on your mood or inclination.  Japan has devoted a whole ceremony to tea, and the U.K. does the same as far as proper tea preparation.  Drinking tea really becomes more than just ingesting a beverage.  That pang when amteasia hits is that knowledge is that you missed the whole experience in whatever form it means to you.

So this is a PSA to remind the tea drinkers to slow down and savor your tea today.  You are worth every precious drop.

The Annual American Pumpkin Wars

Labor Day has come and gone and the “Let’s throw copyrights out the window” memes that we know and love have sprouted up on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, etc.  Pick a side, folks, because fall is here, and you can’t be neutral when a squash is at stake.  It’s…

The Annual American Pumpkin Wars

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It used to be that you would only see pumpkin in home cooking, or you buy something from the bakery. Pumpkin would show up in pies, cakes, or soup basically.  Or, if you were from New England, you were on the receiving end of the glory that is the Pumpkin Whoopie Pie.

But along came Starbucks and the Pumpkin Spice Latte, and people who need their usual coffees in the morning are complaining about extra long lines because of seasonal clove-infused overly sweetened autumnal crack syrup.  And capitalism being capitalism, other companies had to get in on the action.  Naturally, there are sectors of the public who are saying, “Enough!”.

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So I went to my local Target to the food section to see how bad it really was. I wasn’t actively seeking pumpkin food. I just took pictures of what was in my eyeshot.

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M&M’s gone hipster. Whodathunk?

I didn’t even go down the coffee/tea aisles, nor the dairy sections. And I didn’t take pictures of everything that I saw.

To compound all of this, Starbucks announced this year that their Pumpkin Spice Lattes will now contain real pumpkin. Of course, we all have to ask, “What was in them in the beforehand?!?!?!?”  The souls of baristas?

My stance in all of this?  I love pumpkin, but I love the real thing, so I bake my own goodies.  I tried one Pumpkin Spice Latte and only took three sips because of how cloying it was, and I only go crazy for the pumpkin cereal bars at Trader Joe’s.  (Speaking of which, I need to stalk them and don my crumpet helmet too.)

But that does not mean I will protest against anyone else loving pumpkin this time of year.  Freedom of eating is an implied right really.  After all, The Boffin and The Sprog lose their minds around the holidays where everything has peppermint and chocolate infused into it.

It all balances out.

Edited to add:  According to the Washington Post, pumpkin flavored anything added up to $360 million in sales this past year up to July, up 11% from the previous year and up 80% since 2011.  I wonder how much sales will be this year.

A Spirited Recommendation for Oprah

Some time ago, The Boffin and I were in Binny’s, the big chain liquor store known to those in the Chicagoland area, and I was fortunate enough to stumble across this recommendation.

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Now that was very nice of you, Oprah, and I will certainly keep that in mind next time I have $270.00 lying around to buy a bottle of liquor that will make me punch random passersby in the genitals. But please, let me return the favor.

I offer you this.

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Yes, you read that right. 192 proof. The 750 ml bottle only costs $22, so it provides a hell of a lot more value for your money than that tequila you are hawking. You can use it to make your own flavored vodkas and baking extracts. You can liquor up your fruits and use them in cakes and other baked goods. You can use it for medicinal purposes, even if the medicinal purpose is to forget about what ails you.

You know what, Oprah, I even have a craft idea to go along with it. I made a biodegradable personalized carrier sleeve to go with the bottle. Check it out.

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I should stick that on Pinterest.

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How to Make a Cup of Tea – Guest Post by the Boffin

A cup of tea before the milk is stirred in.  Contrary to stereotype, most tea is drunk out of conventional cups and mugs and not out of dainty tea sets.  "Milk clouds in tea" by Xavier Snelgrove - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons
A cup of tea before the milk is stirred in. Contrary to stereotype, most tea is drunk out of conventional cups and mugs and not out of dainty tea sets. “Milk clouds in tea” by Xavier Snelgrove – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons

It is going to sound complex, but what is going on is the desire to increase the positive flavor notes and minimize the bitter ones. Therefore, you want to brew the tea at the hottest temperature possible, and then add something to make it drinkable. There is a lot of chemistry going on in tea, but you don’t need to understand it in order to make a good cup.

You’ll need:
– Kettle (electric is best, one on the stove works too)
– Tea pot
– Large mug
– Working space around the kettle
– Lots of teaspoons
– A tea cosy or clean tea towel.

1) Empty the kettle. Get rid of the old water, you don’t want it as causes problems in the brewing.
2) Add enough water to the kettle for brewing. How much? Depends on how large your tea pot is. Only use fresh water. Some people even run the faucet for a few minutes prior to filling the kettle.
3) Boil the kettle.
4) Rinse out the teapot and warm it. Most people add some boiling water to the pot, wait a minute, and then pour that out. What ever you do, the teapot needs to be hot before you add the hot water.
5) Add the tea to the pot. Nice rule of thumb is 1 teaspoon of tea per person. Or if you have bags, just throw them in based upon what you are looking for in terms of strength (experience).
6) Put the pot near to the kettle.
7) As soon as the kettle is boiling, pour the water into the teapot. Put the lid on the tea pot. Cover the pot with a cosy or tea towel.
8) Wait for 3-10 minutes (depending on how strong you want the tea)
9) Add your sugar/sweetener to the mug and then if you want milk, it goes in next (before the tea). Lemon juice should be added last.
10) Stir and drink while hot.

#9 is the contentious part. Many Americans do not add anything beyond sugar to their tea, and they are missing one of the most important steps. During the brewing process the tea builds up a high concentration of tannins. These compounds are what make the tea taste bitter. The reason people add cow/goat milk to tea, is to bind up the tannins and remove that bitterness. However, it does not need to be milk. Lemon juice works (and is fun to watch what it does to the tea). Honey also works too. Regular sugar has a minimal effect, so people have to add so much sweetness to the tea to mask the bitterness. If you are going to add milk, then it should go in the mug first, so that it is not scalded by adding it the hot tea. Oh, and if you discover that you milk turns to lumps in you cup, the milk is going off. Making tea is a good gauge as to how fresh your milk is. You just start again with fresh milk.

Tea has a very powerful place in British culture, more than people realize. In fact there is no equivalent over here in the United States. Every house is expected to have a tea making kit (even if people don’t drink tea). Not only is it the center piece of social gatherings (as you see on Downton Abbey), but it is also used as a source of comfort and reassurance in times of stress. ‘Shall I put the kettle on?” is a frequent question their spouse would ask when a person receives bad news. It doesn’t have the aggressiveness of coffee, and the act of making and drinking it is quite soothing.

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Karen here. If you want a scholarly take about the brewing of tea, the Royal Society of Chemistry actually issued a news release, but it is dry and not written well, to be honest.

Now the Boffin took a stand and said “milk first”. To some, this is quite controversial. You see, there are factions about whether to put the milk first or last into the cup. In fact, that was what the English Civil War was truly about. Charles I was not beheaded. He died by suffocation with a tea cozy.

And I must say one more thing. Invest in some good quality tea to try this out. Lipton does not cut the muster. Perfect for iced tea, not so good for hot. Even Walmart has Twinings now, so it is not impossible to splurge, and give the English tea ceremony a try. Tell us what you think. We’d love to hear from you.