These are cosy days. Here we are at the end of December, mid-way through Hannukah, with the Winter Solstice just yesterday, and Christmas only a few days away. And the days are cold, and the nights are so long, and crisp, and sparkly. We are all tucked up indoors, with fires crackling and twinkly lights all around. These are cosy days indeed.
And to me, days like these call for tea — copious cups of steaming, fragrant, soothing tea. Tea to warm the fingers and toes, tea to warm the soul. A cup of tea, I have always felt, puts everything back in its right place. So long as that warmth remains — in my fingers, down my throat, warming me from the belly out — all is right in the world.
So long as that warmth remains…
If cosy days call for tea, then these chilly days call for tea cosies — little teapot-shaped jackets that keep the warmth in the pot and keep the world right longer. And what could be better than that? Well, this could: tea cosies are often one-skein wonders, and the most exciting ones call for mini-skeins. Here are a few of my favourites…
I love the Tea Mitten by Elisabeth Kleven. I love the simplicity of it, the way it perfectly hugs the teapot, and the fact that (if you poured very, very carefully), you’d never have to take it off.
And this is a classic tea cosy shape… The Kureyon Kosy by Emma Crew is like a warm blanket that your teapot can snuggle down into. Hot tea, happy teapot — perfect!
(I haven’t actually checked this with the designers, but I feel really confident that either of these designs would also work on teapots in colours other than brown.)
And if you’re making a single cup of tea? Well, it deserves to stay toasty warm too. Check out MK Carroll’s Mug and French Press Jacket. It’s gorgeous, isn’t it? I love the big, fat button, the rich cable detailing, and… oh, just the adorableness of it!
And here’s something super-cool: if you’re more about coffee than tea (what?!? WHAT?!?), this pattern fits a French Press (cafetiere) as well.
How to Make (Me) the Perfect Cup of Tea
Now, I know there are a whole host of tea-making traditions in the world and probably a bazillion opinions on how to make the perfect cup of tea, but I am steeped in the tradition of English tea-making — four, six, ten times a day — and so this is how I think the perfect cuppa is created…
(“steeped”… ah hahahaha! I love a good pun!)
- First, start with English Breakfast tea. I do love a cup of Rooibos and just lately I’m a little bit in love with Trader Joe’s Candy Cane Green tea, but there is nothing nothing nothing so restorative as English Breakfast.
- The best tea is loose-leaf, of course, but I won’t turn my nose up at a teabag. One is Sunday Best, and the other day is workaday.
- Put the kettle on, bring that water up to a happy, busy, rolling boil. Please, never ever make tea with just hot water. Get it rollin’!
- If you’re using a teapot, warm it first by putting a bit of the boiling water in for a minute or so, and then chucking that away. You need to keep the tea happy with a nice, warm, cosy pot.
- Tea goes in — either loose into a pot or a bag into a cup — and then the water must go in after and hit the tea. The water must hit the tea. That’s the only way. Food-service workers of America, please take note: great tea cannot be made by dunking a cold bag into a cup of (vaguely) hot water! It’s got to be boiling water, plunging right down into the tea.
- Let it steep for… how long? Until you get that perfect colour. I can’t help you here — you just know it when you see it. And, if you’re making a pot — the phrase round here is ‘mashing a pot’ — again, I can’t tell you how long, but you know the colour when you see it. (Actually, it’s a little like dyeing in that respect!)
- Sugar and milk, thank you very much. Not cream (too rich), not half-and-half — just plain milk. How much milk? Well, about that much… Just until you get that perfect shade of mid-brown (I’m really not much help, am I?). And though my dentist long ago made me wean myself off the sugar, this is my perfect cuppa, so it’s got a teaspoon of sweetness in it. No honey, thank you. No lemon, please! Sugar and milk… hot sweet tea… the perfect shade of gentle, warm brown… mmmm…
And then, gather up your knitting, and sit back and enjoy — so long as that cup is warm in the hands, all is right in the world.
Ooh, just one more thing before I go… As we are smack in the middle of so many mid-winter celebrations, I want to take a moment to wish all of you the most blessed and happiest of holidays. And that amid all the hustle and bustle of the season, there are quiet moments of peace, love, and joy to all of you!
And tea. The best moments come with tea.