Take It With A Grain Of Salt.

Some friends and I got into a discussion of tea drinking when an American scientist suggested adding a pinch of salt to tea, and ambassadors scrambled to issue a statement to calm our friends across the pond, saying, “The US embassy will continue to make tea in the proper way – by microwaving it.”

I said I was surprised George Orwell hadn’t been brought up since he wrote an essay outlining his very specific views on how tea should be prepared and served, and he even had a word to say about salt—after he tore into those who add sugar to their tea.

I know very well that I am in a minority here. But still, how can you call yourself a true tea-lover if you destroy the flavour of your tea by putting sugar in it? It would be equally reasonable to put in pepper or salt. Tea is meant to be bitter, just as beer is meant to be bitter. If you sweeten it, you are no longer tasting the tea, you are merely tasting the sugar; you could make a very similar drink by dissolving sugar in plain hot water.

Now I’d never accuse old George of being tasteless but I’ve had tea with sugar and I still get a distinct tea flavor. Most of the time, though, I don’t add sugar to my tea because I like to nibble on something sweet, and I just realized I could set off a whole new international incident over what’s truly a “biscuit”, and if you should put gravy on it. And my opinion is that if you like sugar in your tea go for it. If you like milk, cream, lemon, whatever—put it in there. Add salt and pepper if that’s your jam—or even jam. Or drink something other than tea. I know “Do whatever you like” is a strong statement but I’m sticking by it.

I also pulled out this collection of oolong tea bags from Taiwan with funny animal characters that someone gave me and decided to try each one.

First up was the monkey. Right away I realized the design is very clever—they allow the tea bag to sit at the top of your cup while steeping and then you just pull it out. Also if you’re serving tea to five people each one gets their own animal. According to the card it’s a Formosan Macaque. Would the tea taste like banana, or monkey? I was relieved it just tasted like tea.

Next was the Black-faced Spoonbill. Would it taste like a spoon? Or a bill? Or chicken? No, it tasted like tea.

The Panda made me think of the Kung Fu Panda movies, although those have a lot more and different animals and are set in China. I was still relieved the tea tasted like tea and not Jack Black.

Next was the Formosan Sika Deer and I really like how it was just chilling as it sat in hot water.

I saved the best for last—the Formosan Black Bear, voted the representative animal of Taiwan. It lets you know it’s only going down with a mighty roar and that you should be prepared. For tea.


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  1. mydangblog

    I love tea—I drink about a litre of green tea every day. It’s great because you don’t need to add anything to it to enjoy it! Those animal teabags are adorable!

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I don’t drink tea nearly often enough although I have several here in the house that I enjoy. It’s always a cold coffee in the morning for me, but tea is nice later in the morning or in the afternoon. The animal tea bags were a fun design and also a good way to convince me to drink tea even though I’d held onto them for far too long.


    Thanks for spilling the tea, Chris. I only drink tea that tastes great without anything added (Yogi Egyptian Licorice and Celestial Seasoning Bengal Spice) and this post is perfect as is, too.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      The teas you’ve named sound really good. Normally I like my tea with just a little milk but I’ve had some Celestial Seasonings tea that didn’t need anything at all added to them.


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