Hospitality: Tea Set Essentials

Leonard: What's this?
Sheldon: Tea. it's costumary to serve hot beverages when one is in emotional distress. [pats Leonard's head] There there. You want to talk about it?
Leonard: No.
Sheldon: Thank godness. 'There there' was really all I had.
- From "The Big Bang Theory"

Tea is one of my favorite things in the world.  It's comforting, universal, diverse, and delicious.  When my family and I moved to Egypt when I was a teenager, I had to learn the art of serving tea properly.  Much to our Egyptian friends' dismay..... we Americans apparently had no idea.  (We're from Missouri.  We drink our tea super sweet, super iced, and super low maintenance.  We didn't know!)

Serving tea is a huge part of hospitality in most places in the world (though every culture has its own spin on it).  Whether drinking tea in a tent in the dusty Sahara or sipping it by a flawless pond and pagoda in Japan, offering a guest tea and chatting with them as you sip will go a long way in cultivating meaningful relationships in any cultural context.

Thus, I have gathered random odds and ends to make the tea set I currently have in my dorm.  Though it isn't matchy-matchy, each piece has a story and memory attached, and I love it!  I've described each piece needed for my basic "Tea 101" set below, and this should pretty much cover the gamut of any tea needs you'll have:

Flashback Summer- Hospitality: Tea Set Essentials
1. Tea Strainer
You set this over the cup when pouring the tea from a pot.  This catches any leftover leaf bits.
2. Teapot
This is the pot.... in which you put tea.  The one I have is metal and can be heated directly on the stove. (This is apparently a life necessity in Egypt.  A friend heard we were heating our tea water in a normal pot and was horrified.  She gave us this one in order to end our tea anguish.)
3. Sugar Pot
This is a little bowl to put sugar or sugar cubes in.
4. Milk/Creamer
This is technically used for Turkish coffee, I think, but in Sudan everyone used them to heat milk on the stove as well.  Find what you like and, if it works, use it!
5. A Mug or Teacup
I love collecting different types from around the world.  They're pretty universal and come in any shape, size, color you could want!
6. Tea Infuser
This is a little metal mesh ball that you can put loose leaf tea in to steep it right in the cup with hot water instead of making a whole pot.
7. A Tray
This makes all of your tea accessories mobile, and it's also much easier to clean everything up and take it back to the kitchen when you're done.  Plus they can be pretty darn cute.
8. Tongs
These can be used for sugar cubes or for taking used tea bags out of water.
9. Small Plate/Saucers
Both of these things serve the same purpose: providing a place to put used tea bags and spoons when people are done.
10. Small Spoons
Obviously, for stirring in sugar, honey, cream, lemon, or whatever else gets put into the tea.

Now for an extra tip!
How to squeeze a tea bag most efficiently

Flashback Summer- Hospitality: Tea Set Essentials, how to remove a tea bag most efficiently

1. Hold bag on spoon.  2. Bring string behind spoon and down.
3. Wrap string up and around bag and pull, squeezing out excess tea.

No comments