Saturday, 31 August 2013

Red Label: the compromise.

Coffee has become such a hot accessory for intellectuals these days. 'Oh I can't think without my morning cuppa.' Really? I doubt your ability to do so with or without it.

Not that I don't enjoy my morning cuppa but it's enough now. Really. I want tea.

No this is not a tea vs coffee post. I am quite in love with both it's just my rant against God for making the tea-brewing process so complicated.

In winters, I can pretend to love coffee at any hour but in this weather, my heart longs for tea.

The light Darjeeling one with a hint of delicate aroma that I would sip at home and the super-sweet milky ginger tea for those headache-days. My father looks down upon the latter and dismisses it as 'fotano-cha' (which is a term of abuse because in his head he is comparing it with a divine cup of 'bhejano cha').

So one humid summer evening I trudge down to Gola stores ... yes that's the name of my neighbourhood grocery store. I find that huge box of Lipton Green Label. It was the broke-phase of the month (after 20th) and Green Label was too expensive so I abandoned thoughts of tea leaves and moved towards tea-dust and got a Red Label. Sigh.

Mom had suggested tea-bags but I detest them. I mean normally your troubles end in the kitchen but with tea bags you put the trouble in the tea cup. Okay after your tea has leached out, what do you do with the bag? Throw it in the dustbin? So then you might as well have used a normal strainer, same amount of trouble.

But if you carry it in your cup and settle down, what do you do with it then? Assuming you have not settled down beside the dustbin. Okay you put in your saucer, do you? chee!! I judge you. You are what my pishi calls 'jekhanekhayshekhanehaage' (you-defecate-where-you-eat)type. chhi chhi chhi!

No saucers -- who has them these days? No one even uses a cup, we use a mug, don't we? A mug for bathing, a mug for drinking, a mug that has our face on it, no matter how retarded we look on the cup, and then if you do the dishes yourself, you have the pleasure of rubbing Prill-soaked 'Scotch-Brite' across your pretty face. How utterly adorable!

Okay so then, no saucer, so what do you do with the soggy bags? Do you leave it in the cup? And then you take a sip and the wet thread reaches your lips or do you very skilfully hold the thread as you drink? Genius! But too much work thankyouverymuch.

So no tea bags, and Red Label.

Of course brewing it is not easy and not half as romantic as it looks on tv, you know a pristine white tea set, people pouring milk delicately and asking you 'sugar? how much?' On your own it's about milk in tetrapacks (unsightly 'dechkis' at home or worse in the form of bricks hardened in the freezer! - that's how my mom keeps them!) and the tea being poured into a strainer not out of a huge nice-looking pot.


I open the packet and discover that there is a serious dearth of rubber bands "gardar", which is stored in such abundance at home, all gathered together in a plastic case. Fine. The truant flaps are secured with a tic-tac, not even remotely 'air-tight' but it's not Darjeeling tea so well whatever! Then by a wondrous stroke of luck the milk tetrapack chooses to be empty at that very moment so one has to make black tea with Red Label. Good luck.

After a sad attempt there is something that aspires to be the Darjeeling variety and one settles down with that. And then after admiring it for a few seconds one has to come back to reality and face the empty dish with the wet tea leaves (sorry dust). 

They were happily bubbling and frothing a few minutes ago and now in a ugly brown mess they stick yuckily against the dish whispering 'clean-me' 'clean-me' into your ears. So well you clean. Which is not troublesome as I like my tea lukewarm not hot. 

So that's there. Why is it so much trouble? Did Bertie ever realise the plight of Jeeves? I do. Though I wish I had someone like Jeeves.

This mashi of mine, once gifted us a tea set, very delicate in shape but its colour was lemon yellow with broad brush-strokes of orange and green. You could not even drink water in that unless you'd be wearing sunglasses. It adorns the last rack on some sad shelf in my house. I have a lovely dream of breaking that set. One cup at a time.

Oh and all you people who love tea in your 'matir bhaand' and conical glass: go die.