A Note on Tea

I wouldn’t say I’m a technophobe.  I am typing this out on a lap top, after all.  I understand the necessity of having a mobile to take pictures of one’s children, and, I suppose, to make calls.  And in life, I was, among other things, a press mechanic.  Even after I moved into editorial roles, when the machine broke down, the boys came looking for me to get it back into sorts or summon the proper engineers.

However, there are some things that simply do not require technological advances.  That suffer under the weight of dials and knobs.

One of those things is tea.

Do you know how to make tea?  Boil water, pour it over a black tea bag or leaves, and let it sit until the water can stand up on its own? Add milk? Yes?



But apparently, the makers of the BKON (pronounced ‘beacon’, as though they are god’s light to the tea world) didn’t get the memo.

Let’s refer to the BKON as Mr. Vacuous, to dilute its apparent power.

I first met Mr. Vacuous when Alexander took a job at a local tea store.  He sat silent that first day—a black box glued to a paper-stone counter, staring at the front door to the store as if mentally preparing to inflict himself upon future customers.  I paid him no mind, overwhelmed as I was by the 101 flavours of tea in the store.

101 flavours!  Jesus ‘English’ Christ himself knows perfectly well that one needs a breakfast assam and an afternoon blend and nothing more.

And they make cold teas, too.  COLD TEA.

The second day, the owner of the store began to fit Mr. Vacuous with his component parts—rubber seals, a vacuum tube, a handled basket that fits underneath the tube.

The third day he turned it on…

…and thus unleashed the apocalypse.  If we are now making tea inside of a vacuum, the four horsemen cannot be far behind.

Mr. Vacuous sucked the tea leaves from the basket up into his tube.  He created a seal and removed the air from the tube.  And then he used some scientific algorithm to mix exact proportions of hot and cold water to hit the ‘proper’ temperature for an oolong, pushing the water into the leaves into the empty air spaces.  He brewed it in sixty seconds flat.

Where is the decency, I ask you?  Where are the black teas?  The five minute steep time? The spilled leaves on the counter, the cussing at the pilot light on the stove, the five a.m. blur, the desperate wait for the steep to finish?  Where goes the tradition when Mr. Vacuous sucks the air out of your tea?  Where goes the flavour of tar when he brews a ‘perfect’ cup?

I am appalled.

The damn thing brews white tea (fluff with a bit of flavour), green tea (grass), oolong (wanna be black tea), and herbals (caffeine free piles of uselessness) in addition to our Lord and Saviour’s Assam.  Cross pollution if you ask me.

And it brews so quickly you have no chance to watch the amber color sway into your cup.  No chance to forget you’ve made tea, happily resulting in a sludge-filled cuppa that begs you pray for absolution.  No chance to spill, to burn, to revel in the life that is tea.

Mr. Vacuous is just that—vacuous.  Absent.  Antiseptic. An exorbitantly priced erasure.

And so far, in the first three weeks of Alex’s job, only once has a customer stood up to his wiles and asked for a traditional steep.  A pot, an infuser, a bit of boiling water, and a good god-damn black tea.

A true hero, that one.

Mr. Vacuous even holds sway over Alex…it’s sad, so sad, but true.  He’s even considering the purchase of a programmable hot water heater to have at home now, having ‘discovered’ oolongs and greens.  It’s awful.

But…Mr. Vacuous will never sway me.  I shall continue to take my black and white cuppa straight off the stove, thank you very much.

I humbly implore you to behave likewise.