A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


1/5 Of The Perfect Breakfast
Thursday, February 01, 2007

Since I can remember I have enjoyed tea. By tea I mean the stuff that Yankee Clipper ships carried while braving storms around Cape Horn, racing to get it home first from the Orient, to fetch the best price. I mean the kind that comes from fermented leaves of Camellia sinensis . I am very subjective about tea. I think Japanese maccha (matcha) is glorified swamp water, no matter how many oxidants it may have. I will drink Japanese tea, so similar to celery broth, only with Japanese food. I love the taste of tea sweetened with a sweetener (white sugar) that does not add any taste. And, like Dr. Samuel Johnson I put enough milk (very little) to allay the bite of the tannin. My tea has to be the colour of Coke so I use two heaping spoonfulls in the teaball seen here which I steep for at least 5 minutes in my Ken Edwards mug from Tonalá, Mexico.

In Argentina I tolerated the excellent Taragüí that is grown in Corrientes province. In our years in Mexico (the importation of tea was prohibited) we treasured and re-used smuggled Ameerican Lipton Tea bags. The worst tea I ever had was at the fashionable Kinneret Café at the Zona Rosa. I asked for a té con leche . I was served a cup of boiling milk with a tea bag. When we moved to Vancouver I swore I would always drink the best tea.

I purchase my favourite tea (with the exception of the wonderfully strong Taylors of Harrogate Yorkshire Gold at the Gourmet Warehouse) at the Granville Island Tea Company. They sell the perfect, strongest and most fragrant Earl Grey. If you look closely at the above image you will note the blue filaments and flower buds. Since I know so much about tea I have been ashamed to ask them what they are! Their Organic Assam and their Rwanda Rukeri are equally strong.

On my two visits to London what I missed most about Vancouver was a decent cup of tea. Unless a hotel used bottled water (they didn't) London tea is made with some swill the English call water. Their tea is terrible. But it was in London where I purchased one pound of Saint James Fannings for £85. I nursed that tea for six months back in Vancouver and this was the most complicated, interesting and flavourful tea I have ever had. In the best book about tea ( alas! a French book called The Book of Tea) this is what it says of Saint James Fannings:

Betjeman And Barton
23 Boulevard Malesherbes
75008 Paris

This shop is regularly visited by tea lovers. Every day, a cup of one of the hundred and twenty teas stored in either red or green canisters is offered to customers - with any luck you may drop in on a day when a Saint James Fannings or a Castleton G.E.O.P. second flush is being brewed.

But tea is only 1/5 of my perfect breakfast. For 12 years Rosemary (2/5) and I have had our breakfast in bed (3/5) every day of the week. In leaner times we used to celebrate Sundays with bacon. But that is no more. Our perfect breakfast is her coffee, my tea, her toast with honey, my (two) Venice Bakery Brown & Serve Original Scissors (4/5), and a copy of our daily delivered New York Times (5/5).

Modern technology has changed the routine a bit. Since I read the Sunday New York Times at 10pm on Saturday, when it is delivered, Sunday is back to 4/5 perfection. It becomes 3/5 when our grandaughters have a sleepover (four for breakfast in bed was much too messy). But sitting at the table on Sunday with Lauren and Rebecca is 4/5 again and with the thin homemade pancakes it's a perfect breakfast again! Unsalted cultured butter and confectionary sugar on pancakes accompanied by an Earl Grey is as perfect as perfect is.

Granville Island Routine


Previous Posts
Joey Shithead, DOA's Consumate Gentleman

D.O.A. Fans

In Praise of Terry David Mulligan

Malcolm Parry's Privileged Position

Jack Diamond, The Brush Man & The Sure Bet

Kennedy - Nixon - Bay of Pigs & A Fraser St. Pool ...

La Folia - A 16th Century Louie Louie

Sarcococca ruscifolia - Polonium 210 In The Garden...

Ted Turton Has An Idea - In Burnaby

Howard Houston, Plymouth Kingsways & Legion Comman...

January 2006

February 2006

March 2006

April 2006

May 2006

June 2006

July 2006

August 2006

September 2006

October 2006

November 2006

December 2006

January 2007

February 2007

March 2007

April 2007

May 2007

June 2007

July 2007

August 2007

September 2007

October 2007

November 2007

December 2007

January 2008

February 2008

March 2008

April 2008

May 2008

June 2008

July 2008

August 2008

September 2008

October 2008

November 2008

December 2008

January 2009

February 2009

March 2009

April 2009

May 2009

June 2009

July 2009

August 2009

September 2009

October 2009

November 2009

December 2009

January 2010

February 2010

March 2010