Thursday, September 09, 2010

The Future of Tea?

By Jess Hodges

It sometimes seems, in more cynical moments, that the essence of modern culture is convenience and disposability. The epitome of this in the world of tea is the tea bag. In our fast paced lives we rarely pause for long enough to make a pot of tea let alone spend time measuring out spoonfuls of leaves and messing about with strainers.

While the tea bag approach may be easier, it leaves us vulnerable to less scrupulous companies who, knowing that we won't be getting a proper look at their contents, fill the bags with the cheapest, lowest grade of leaves available, essentially no more than tea dust. That is why people are often shocked at the taste of tea made from loose leaves, the quality of the product is drastically higher.

Then there is the effect of the bags themselves, often they will have been bleached or chemically treated and any residues from this will go straight into your tea.

As well as these potential pitfalls we're missing out in other ways when we exclusively use tea bags. Without tea leaves being involved in the process we don't get those remnants at the bottom of our cups which have been so useful to many in helping them predict their futures.

The practice of tasseography required a cup of tea to be poured without a strainer and then drunk in an attitude of quiet contemplation. The dregs and leaves are then swirled around the cup and the patterns interpreted. You begin reading from the rim nearest the handle which represents the present and then proceed in a spiral to the bottom, getting further and further into the future all the while. Standard sets of symbols and their interpretations have been passed down over generations to help you puzzle out the meaning behind the leaves.

So why not take a step back in time and get rid of the tea bag, who knows what you might find?


Anonymous said...

Why are you convinced that patterns in tea remnants at the bottom of cups have any relation to future events?

Anonymous said...

Let us not forget that the bags create unnecessary amounts of extra waste, and sometimes aren't very biodegradable.