I want to tell you that I've changed the way I make tea since my earlier post on the subject. It's been evolving fitfully, and only reached the state I'm about to describe a few days ago.
Darn Douglas Noel Adams (DNA on h2g2) and his milk molecules.
On my desk I now have a Bodum half-liter teapress teapot, a stirring implement, a quiet kitchen timer, and a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup. In one desk drawer I have a tin of Tealuxe Irish Breakfast looseleaf tea and a plastic teaspoon. In another drawer, I have a box of 16-ounce Solo hot beverage paper cups and lids. In the coffee nook across the cubeway from where I sit are a spring water cooler/heater, a microwave, a mini-fridge containing half-and-half and a tiny ice tray, and a little squeezy plastic jar of honey.
Here's what I do: I open the desk drawer, get out the tin and spoon, and scoop two heaping teaspoons of leaves into the teapress. I take the teapress and measuring cup to the coffee nook. I fill the Pyrex with one and three-quarters cups of water from the hot spigot, put it in the microwave, and press Quick Min and Start. I wait, worrying what leaking microwaves are doing to my gametes. Sometimes I go fetch a cup and lid during this wait, but I only have a minute and I have to be there and ready right when the microwave beeps. If I'm five seconds late, the water in the Pyrex has stopped bubbling, and Douglas tells me, "the water has to be boiling (not boiled) when it hits the tea leaves." So when the microwave beeps, I take out the Pyrex promptly, pull out the teapress's steeper insert ('cause otherwise the water flows out through the pores and carries particulates with it), pour in the bubbling water, and quickly lower the steeper back in. I take the teapress (caution: hot!) and Pyrex (also hot!) back to my desk and set them on my tea napkin. The tea napkin is just a folded paper towel dedicated to the purpose of absorbing drips, not a specially-purchased product. I'm not sick. I start the timer, which is programmed for 4 minutes and 40 seconds. Sometimes I put the press part of the teapress in, sometimes not; it sinks and thus cuts the number of open pores through which tea liquor can flow (or through which tea particles can diffuse; I guess both things are happening), which bugs me, but then I've heard you're supposed to cover it while it steeps. While the timer counts down, I go back to the coffee nook. If I didn't bring a cup before, I do now. I squeeze about a teaspoon of honey onto the flat paper bottom of the cup. No, not upside-down, silly, right side up. I know that my phrasing might be confusing. I just say it that way because when I watch the thick honey blob spreading on the coated paper, I think of it as on a flat surface, not in a concave space. I take the cup back to my desk. When the timer goes off, I press the press part of the teapress. I pour the hot tea into the cup, onto the now spread-out honey. The tea pushes up little irregular circular ridges in the honey. I assemble my stirrer; I stick a plastic coffee-stirrer onto the end of a wooden stick that once held rock-candy, because the plastic stirrer isn't long enough. I stir the honey in until the bottom of the cup doesn't feel gooey. This involves reversing direction several times. I stick the end of the stirrer in my mouth and pull out the wood while sucking to get drops of tea out of the stirrer. Then I take the cup back to the coffee nook. No one has questioned why I make so many trips, but it's only a matter of time. I take out the ice tray and pop five or so little cubes out of it. If the cubes are reluctant to come, I use the point of the small blade of my Swiss Army knife to pry them. The top of the microwave provides a platform at just the right height that I don't have to unclip the lanyard from my belt loop. I fill the empty pockets with water from the cold spigot, and replace the tray in the freezy compartment of the fridge, carefully aligning it with the little ridges through which the coolant flows. I stir the ice cubes into the hot honeyed tea until they melt. This is enough to bring the temperature of the tea down near room temperature. Do I use the same stirrer? No. I'm too lazy or forgetful to have brought it along. So I grab one out of the cardboard box in the coffee nook, and chuck it when I'm done. Wasteful. I add half-and-half. Too much for my health, probably. Almost a quarter cup. Also, the English insist milk, not cream. Whatever. I sip. Wow, that's good. I mean, really, wow. I get what DNA was trying to convey. I return to my desk humming. I put the lid on. For some reason I don't drink immediately. It's as though I'm reluctant. Or I don't feel I deserve it yet. Or I'm not ready. If I was smart, I ate something substantial before I began this process. I mentally gird my loins, and open a blank page to type into, and I drink the tea. All of it. Usually in one go, sometimes I pause in the middle and make it two. Either way the majority of the tea flows into me in under a minute. I get high. I write. Or something; the recollection is unclear.
If you read the earlier post on tea, you'll recognize that all of this allows me what is quite possibly British Kitchen-quality tea, in an American Cubicle setting.
Now I have to clean up tea leaves.
I cry sometimes when I think that, no matter how well I succeed or how badly I fail as a writer, I will never get to meet Douglas Adams.