239. Boiled Leaf Juice

(before I begin, I’d like to tell everyone that I have started playing Batman: Arkham Origins, and yesterday, heard the amazing Troy Baker’s voice channeling The Joker. If Mr. Baker isn’t the greatest voice actor alive, I don’t know who is)

There was a conversation from the TV series Avatar: The Last Airbender, between the disgraced general Iroh and his angsty, exiled nephew Prince Zuko. They were masquerading as travelers, and somehow found themselves in a tea shop. Iroh, disgusted by the quality of tea served there, called the shopowners out, calling their tea “nothing but boiled leaf juice”.

Zuko said, “But uncle, aren’t all tea just boiled leaf juice?”

I thought, when I was watching the series some years ago, that I agreed with Zuko. I mean come on, tea is tea, right? But then again, I was drinking exclusively milk tea at that time, so you can’t blame me.

This morning, there was no hot water in the kettle, but there was in the water heater. I thought, eh, no need to be so pedantic about tea, right? Boiled leaf juice is boiled leaf juice, and the Brits are just being silly about getting the temperature just right for their tea.

(I keep typing “heather” instead of “heater”, and I in fact knew a girl from secondary school named Heather, though I have not had a single conversation with her. Anyone cares to psychoanalyze me?)

I brewed my morning tea, let it sit to cool a little, and took a little sip. At first, I thought that my taste buds were a little off, so I took another sip, paying close attention to the flavor this time. I took a third sip, and now a frown was forming on my face.

It tasted all wrong. The tea was flat. Instead of being like, say, biting into a freshly-washed apple that still has water droplets on its skin, it was like eating an apple underwater – I was taking in too much water. It was like the tea was just beneath the taste of the water.

I had, in short, made myself a flask full of boiled leaf juice.

This would not do at all. I considered throwing the whole flask away and brewing up a fresh batch – with properly-boiled water this time – but deciding that wasting bad tea is still wasting tea, I decided to finish the rest of the tasteless thing. By the time I was done, it was an hour to lunchtime, and I didn’t want to drink another half-liter of fluids before lunchtime.

And so right after lunch hour, which consisted of 5 minutes of pancakes and 55 minutes of Mr. Pratchett’s Wintersmith, I got back into the office, set the kettle to boil, read a short story from the KL Noir: White anthology, and when the water boiled, I poured it out onto the a fresh teabag, assaulting the tea leaves with boiling hot water.

And now I have glorious, properly-made tea with me.

All is right again with the world.

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