Monday, January 30, 2017

On brewing tea

I watched a video interview with the 10th heir of Twinings Tea Company, that has been merchandising tea for over 300 years. In the interview, among talking about the family history, and the story behind their bestselling tea flavor—Earl Grey—he talked about the best way to brew tea, whether using loose leaves, or a tea bag.

To extract the most flavor out of tea, he recommended bringing cold water to a boil, and removing the kettle off the stove once the water starts boiling. His theory is that the flavor is extracted through the air in the water, and continuing to boil the water further, will reduce the amount of air in it.

For green teas, he recommends letting the kettle set for 5 mins, then pouring the hot water over the tea, and for black teas, he recommends pouring the hot water immediately over the tea. The heir advised against removing the bag, or repeatedly dunking it in the water during brewing, because that only changes the color of the water, and makes the tea bitter without extracting flavor. On the contrary, he recommends leaving the tea bag still for 3 minutes, and then throwing it away, enjoying the flavorful tea, adding milk, or lemon, but never sugar, as it masks the tea flavor.

I followed his advice verbatim, and while I am not sure if the effect is psychological or real, I drank the best cup of tea in years. No bitterness, no sweetness, just great tea flavor.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Random acts of kindness

When I have the chance, I like to walk to my meetings instead of using the shuttle service available on campus. When it is not raining, the walk is very refreshing: I get to clear out my thoughts on the walk, and get in some number of steps for my daily activity.  After one of my meetings ended, I started to head back to my building, only to see that it started to down pour. To my luck, there was a shuttle parked upfront. I asked the driver if she could take me back to my building, and she said she was on her lunch break. As I said no worries, I’ll just walk back, she insisted that she can drive me. I hopped in the shuttle, thanking her profusely for taking the time from her lunch break to drive me back, she insisted it was not a big deal. Such an act of kindness made my day, and it is a great reminder to continue doing good things to others, simply for the joy it brings them.