Monday, November 22, 2010

Good Eats - Chai

It seems only fitting as I sit here drinking a cup of tea that I write about the marvelous beverage. I have always been a lover of tea. From an early age I was drawn to it. Yes, in my formative years this love sprang from a detestation of tea's longstanding counterpart, coffee. And though my love of coffee has matured as my tastes have, I think that my heart has always belonged to tea. I think there is something inherently social about it. Friends gather together around a pot of tea while a cup of coffee is often pictured as a solitary ritual. Perhaps that's why tea is the hot beverage of choice here in Georgia.

It is fortunate that I love it so much as I literally drink it morning noon and night. When I get up in the morning a cup of tea is waiting for me at the breakfast table. When I get to school, the break room coffee pot (a staple in any American break room) is nowhere to be found but is replaced by a teapot. Throughout the day I usually have at least 2 or 3 cups. And that's not including the instances when they serve tea at lunch to the kids, like today, when I get an extra cup. When I return home between 2 and 4, after we eat dinner, we put the kettle on and make a fresh pot. Then, of course, there are the early evening and late evening cups. Happily one of the first things I learned to understand in Georgian was the question "Chai ginda?" (ჩაი გინდა?) (Do you want tea?) To which the answer is always, yes!

Though I can keep up with the average Georgian for total consumption, how I take my tea differs considerably from the norm. I usually take about one level teaspoon, give or take a pinch, in my cup. Most Georgians take two of three heaping spoonfuls and some of those are loaded into very small cups. Which brings us to teacups. There is the traditional cup and saucer option and there is the Turkish glass. The latter is a tiny glass cup, usually without any handles. You are supposed to delicately hold it where the glass curves and sip. Now, I have not found out how to hold said cup without scalding my fingers yet as tea here is served at boiling point. So I hold on to the rim but my thumb gets in the way and so I am forced to awkwardly twist my wrist around so that a clear path is revealed before I raise my whole arm to drink. Clearly, I lack some practice.

As the perfect compliment to almost anything, and though perhaps not good "eats" it ranks as one of my favorites.

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