Monday, February 8, 2010


Tea drinkers may wince at 27-Across in today’s New York Times crossword: “What you drop uncooked spaghetti or a tea bag into.” Yes, that’s the answer above.

All sorts of things might be dropped into boiling water, but a tea bag shouldn’t be one of them. The Tazo website tells us what to do when our water boils: “Pour over tea.” Tetley: “Bring water to a rolling boil and immediately pour over your tea bag.” And Twinings: “Bring water to a boil, and pour over the tea as soon as it reaches boiling.”

One can find similar guidance at websites for tea companies whose names begin with other letters of the alphabet.

comments: 5

Wayne Nix said...

I don't care what the instructions say. Tea tastes better if it's boiled for awhile.

Of course, I'm in the south and drink iced tea, but the principle still applies.

macon d said...

All sorts of things might be dropped into boiling water, but a tea bag shouldn’t be one of them.

Do tell, please -- why not?

Berit said...

Ugh. When I think about the tea bobbing around in rolling-boil water, my stomach flutters in an unpleasant way.

As for the "House Wine of the South", well...If I recall you boil water with not only tea but also an obscene amount of sugar. One could almost say that making a true sweet tea is more like preparing simple syrup than brewing fine tea.

It's also worth noting that most green teas require an even lower temperature (something in the 180's if memory serves) than your blacks--one should pour the boiling water into the empty teapot and let stand for a few minutes, pour out into the serving cups, then add tea to pot and pour the water back in to steep for 5-7 minutes. Or you can simply "cheat" as I do with an electric water kettle with variable temperature settings (Black tea, Green Tea, Baby Formula).

We recently finished off a tin of Twinings Earl Grey and it is now holding my notecards for me per your suggestion.

Michael Leddy said...

I think that more of tea goodness gets infused when the hot water goes over the tea. I associate bag-into-water with the way tea is sometimes served in restaurants — a cup of hot water with the bag on the side (ugh).

I’ve never before heard of boiling with the bags in the water, but I guess that’s geography. I guess it eliminates the use of a kettle, no?

Elaine said...

Hey! I thought folks were supposed to be respectful! NO, Sweet Tea is not any kind of a Southern tradition, though one is finding it all over the place nowadays. (It might have been introduced by a Yankee, for all we know.)

I am old, and I have 60 years of iced-tea drinking to reflect upon, and I can tell you that Sweet Tea is, besides being an abomination, a fairly recent development.

The tradition is to pour boiling water over tea leaves; after brewing and straining, the cooled, strong tea goes over ice in a tall glass. You are served your lemon wedges and mint sprigs at the same time that the sugar bowl is passed (with the sugar shell)...and you use your long-handled sterling silver iced tea spoon to stir the sugared tea.

Earl Grey should never be used for iced tea.