Saturday 12 January 2008

The tea cosy

She’s a kitchen fuss

Every once in a while, I get hit with a haze of domesticated frenzy and all that matters is equipping my kitchen or kitchen activity with the right tools.

At one time it was getting the right apron, it took maybe three purchases to get one that was just right. Nice slip-on over the head and behind the neck, a good tie-around the back that would make a air-hostess envious of my life-jacket wearing abilities and two well-sized pockets for my oven-gloves.

Then, egg-timers, there are all sorts, I never really liked the digital ones, too fiddling, and by the time you worked out how to set one, you would be taking ashes out of the oven.

The digital timer on my deep-fryer was as inscrutable as being an emergency pilot in a dire situation where the best vehicle you have ever controlled is a pedal bicycle.

I found that a simple wind-round-and-set one was the best for my purposes as long as what I was cooking or baking did not take more than 60 minutes.

Earl Grey Smoked Out

Recently, I had taken to having Earl Grey or Smoky Earl Grey (Earl Grey with Lapsang Souchong) tea strained from my teapot on idle Saturday mornings when I am at home.

I happened upon Smoky Earl Grey tea by accident, I had visited Fortnum & Mason on the Piccadilly in London and picked up this can of tea which tasted quite different from my usual Earl Grey Tea – it was when I bought another can on another visit that I looked closely at the labels and found there was something added.

It took the assistant in the Simon Levelt (Dutch) coffee and tea shop at the Amsterdam Central Station to give this blend a name. After sniffing the aroma of 4 blends of Earl Grey tea from 10-gallon cans, I was about to swoon with tea delirium – such bliss.

For all the warmth in the world

My problem was, I took my time with tea that by the time I was ready for the second cuppa, the tea in the teapot was lukewarm. Now, only a tea-Philistine might be tempted to do the sacrilegious – put the teapot in the microwave oven – My heart stopped.

Besides, tea only really releases its best flavour with freshly boiled water, all that ceremony for another cup did not appeal to me.

I needed to get that old-fashioned English tea cosy, but what is it called in Dutch? My friends at work helped out there – thee-muts – that is what I should ask for at the shops, Blokker (Dutch), being the most likely one to stock it.

This morning before Polly put the kettle on, she went shopping for a tea-cosy (thee-muts), I doffed my hat as I asked the shop assistant with a mix of English and Dutch for a thee-muts.

She pointed to this thing, far above our heads, which did not look like my idea of a traditional tea-cosy which is usually a cap or balaclava thing fitting completely over a teapot; she got the steps and fetched it – it was like a padded doctor’s bag with an interlocking latch fastener - a sophisticated tea cosy with a handle.

By the time I had my second cup of tea; it was just as hot as I would have liked it.

Tea cosy

The tea cosy - thee-mutts in Dutch - the slideshow .

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