The Tiffin Tin

What\’s in your lunchbox?

Lifeboat Tea

with 2 comments

Some people are born tea drinkers, some people come to it later in life and have to feel their way.

I’m in the latter camp. When I was in my twenties, I lived with two wonderful people — an English woman and her husband, who’d grown up in Los Angeles, although you’d never know it because he sounds more English than she. Every morning, Jamie would bring Catherine a cup of tea. He’d make it in a plain blue tea pot. It had milk and sugar in it. (She liked her tea weak back then — “just show the bag to the water,” she’d say, which I think meant you were only supposed to keep the tea bag in the water for a moment.) This, and my first trip to England, around this time, is the origin of my love of tea.

Sometimes, in the market, I stray from my usual tea (which is Peet’s Assam Golden Tip), and buy something else. (In truth, I do this a lot. This morning, my husband, who likes to quantify things, informed me that I have thirteen boxes and tin containers of tea in our cupboard and couldn’t we please throw a few of them away? In fact, no, we can’t. But that’s another story.)

At the market yesterday, I bought the two teas you see in the picture. The Lifeboat Tea I’ve not yet tried. But somehow, somewhere, sometime the owners of the Berkeley Bowl are handing “4p” over to the charity that runs Lifeboat Tea. How that money gets to England I do not know. But I’m happy to be part of such a worthy project.

Are you wondering, when, exactly, is she going to get to the container part? Now, dear reader.

I have spent a good part of the last two years looking for a decent to-go cup for my morning tea, the tea I drink in the car on the way to the BART station. My requirements for this container took shape after several unpleasant, and all-too common experiences with to-go cups. Mainly, they all leak. They just leak differently. Some of them leak at the place where you screw the lid onto the cap. Some of them leak when you drink from the cup. And some of them leak when the cup leans just a little too far forward.

The cup in this picture does none of these things. I cannot tell you how to buy it for yourself because I couldn’t find it online when I looked. Perhaps that’s okay. Finding the right to-go cup is a holy grail kind of journey, one we should all have to go on ourselves. (In case you’re not up to that, here are a few clues: I got this container at Barnes & Noble. It cost $4.99.) It does not leak — in any way at all – thanks to the very clever way they’ve made the top, with those slits they’ve constructed on the lid. That it has pictures of famous authors on it, when I’d rather have a pattern that is plainer or at least abstract, is something I can live with.

One thing that the typical to-go cup cannot do, and probably will never be able to do, is duplicate the experience of drinking your tea from a cup that leaves no flavors of its own. All to-go cups add their own small smell to the tea. It’s the plastic and the stainless steel, I think. My solution to this is to make sure that when I really, really want to drink good to-go tea, I make tea that is a little aromatic. This is also a good solution to the kind of tea that you get in restaurants where they don’t really boil the water, but just spurt it out of the cappucino machine. Aromatic tea covers these small flaws. That’s what the organic Earl Grey is about. You’ll note it’s made in France. That doesn’t bother me one bit, and it’s actually pretty good tea, even if it’s not English.

So there you go: the perfect tea container, and some advice about how to make tea to-go that tastes pretty good. This is what makes life golden.

Written by bloglily

June 27, 2006 at 11:08 am

2 Responses

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  1. I have very fond memories about visiting you for Thanksgiving. You made English breakfast tea for Rebecca and I.

    I don’t do tea in the mornings, but I don’t do coffee either. I love the idea that W. brings you tea every morning.

    It’s time go stay awake for the day — I’m going to go drink water instead and eat chocolate and oranges. (Suzanne by Leonard Cohen)

    Sue Crocker

    June 28, 2006 at 5:02 am

  2. Oh my goodness, you found RNLI tea! The charity, the RNLI, is what we always called “The Lifeboats” when I was growing up. They provide a lifeboat rescue service for people who get into difficulty at sea. My auntie has always been a big supporter and at Christmas always sent us RNLI Christmas cards (and probably still does). I had no idea they did tea! I will look out for it when I’m in UK.

    I like Twinings Earl Grey. I’ve recently found that they do Earl Grey leaves and you can get them in the supermarket here (Australia). I was pleased about that because I used to trek across town to a special tea shop to buy my Earl Grey. Ooh, I do love a cuppa!


    June 29, 2006 at 5:52 am

  3. Sue — You know, I play that song all the time. I love Leonard Cohen.

    Hi Helen — I’m so thrilled you know more about this tea. I really like the box, and the whole idea of it. And it is really just fine black tea, to boot. And if you can’t find it, I’m happy to send you a box from Berkeley. Funny to think of such a route for the guys in the boats. Cheers, Lily (And PS — how sweet of you to come and check out my obsessive little site.)


    June 29, 2006 at 7:05 pm

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