Thursday, March 29, 2007

Pairing tea with occaisions

Connoisseurs take pride in having found the perfect pairings of alcohol with chow, but doesn’t the beauty of tea lie in its I-felt-like-it whenever-ness? That said, some occasions suit certain flavors better than others.

Air Travel – green

Ask any business-class skyhopper or Disneyland-bound mother of four what the perfect flight would be, and both answers will likely include words like ‘peace’, ‘tranquility’, and ‘empty row’ or ‘good movie’. Green tea, the elixir of Zen monks, will get you as close as possible to the first two with bonus antioxidants. Unfortunately, due to recent policy changes those departing from American terminals are no longer allowed the home-brewed hot thermos. If you don’t mind it cold, fetch a glass-bottled Tazo or Honest Tea while they load in the first-classers; otherwise, stow a teabag or two with your MP3 player and ask the flight attendant for hot water after liftoff (as with all above-room-temperature beverages consumed above 55,000 feet, mind the turbulence warnings). Preferably, buy organic Matcha bags either in Chinatown or at Whole Foods Market, but when running late don’t hesitate at theft from hotel lobbies. Skip the 4 AM-taxi-traffic-jam Starbucks; jet lag renders excessive caffeine superfluous.

Tea tip: Green tea isn’t picky about its partners. If it’s too bitter on its own, brew it with mild fruity flavors like tangerine or raspberry, or herbal essences like mint. To stop the second teabag from overpowering the flavor of the first, take it out of the cup sooner.

The Cyber Café – fruity combos

For a couple hours of heated IM debates (“j00 r34dy n00b?” “just tel me hwo long 2 bake teh gadamn pie xO!11!!1!”), illegal acquisition of music, and addictive Flash cartoons, café is really a misnomer—no roast or frappe will pair as satisfyingly as a lively tea. A good WiFi parlor has a brand-name selection of both cold and hot teas, and a bad one dishes you the overpriced NesTea with high fructose corn syrup. Branch out from Twining’s Orange Spice; lemon and ginger is a classic, peach is infallible, and berries match green and black teas nicely. Your cyber café should be more about the ambience and drinks than the broadband; for a treat, find one that boasts of ‘free internet’ with purchase of a beverage, or else burn your tongue watching the per-minute meter rise.

Tea tip: Anything that tastes good hot won’t fail you with ice cubes, except for Earl Grey, which takes on the flavor of February’s dishwater. Remember; the tangerine slice floats in hot tea, but garnishes the rim when served with cold.

The Movies – mint, ginseng, ginger

Popcorn? Passé. A tall, steamy cup of tea in the dark (between fight scenes) won’t grease your fingertips and does not require sharing when with a group. If you like it iced, bring a jean jacket; the only thing more annoying during “I’ve always loved you” moments than a bawling baby or cell phone is the perpetual sneezer who denies the existence of air-conditioning. Make sure the cup has a heat-proof sleeve or bring a travel mug from home; you’ll be cool as long as your choice fits in the beverage holder. Hitting the screening with a runny nose is risky, but if protocol dictates, brew fresh sliced ginger with lime juice and spin in a spoon of honey just before heading out.

Studying – black

Even when writing a thesis, don’t confuse your metabolism with Coke or coffee. Earl Grey is dark for a reason—it works all night long, like hospitals and Cartoon Network. If the brew is too strong, spread it among two or more teacups and top off with hot water. Any fresh juice of the citrus can be added for taste, but I discourage sugar. At dawn, press the cool teabag on each eye for a few minutes while performing the savasana, or corpse pose, and do some stretches to preserve daytime posture. Expect queries on how your hangover is treating you.

These are suggestions only, of course. Sports, drawing, and lunch are among the events when personal taste is the only guideline. This is why everyone gets stuck in ruts—eating the same lunch, driving the same route home, sipping the same flavor Gatorade in between drag-ups at the gym—and gets the idea that they have no control over whether or not their lives are boring.
So try something new every week. As for tea, you never know when you’ll discover a new favorite, but the right stimulation of your taste buds at the right time is the definition of pick-me-up, if not nirvana.

Powered by ScribeFire.

No comments: