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Learning from one of my favorite things–Isabel Swift

October 24, 2010 by in category From Isabel Swift tagged as , with 0 and 0
Home > Columns > From Isabel Swift > Learning from one of my favorite things–Isabel Swift

A visit by an avid tea drinker gave me the excuse to expound on my fondness for my Alfi.  In assessing my tea drinking habits, I realized there were many similarities with my romance reading habits! Like many romance readers (and tea drinkers), I have specific tastes, likes and dislikes. Some I can be quite intransigent about, others more open-minded.

I must note that I am a tea philistine. I like black tea, fairly dark, with a lot of milk and sugar. My needs and requirement are simple and unrefined. I just like the taste. I do not worry about whether the water is boiling, just under, or whatever temperature releases (or does not release) unattractive tannins. Whatever! For me the issue is simply: does the water turn dark enough and if I put a lot of milk in it, does it stay hot enough (but not too hot) to sip and enjoy immediately?

Like a baby gosling, I imprinted on Twining’s Earl Grey blend as my tea of choice, but I’ve been willing to branch out–Bigelow’s English Teatime, Twining’s Irish Breakfast & have even liked some loose teas: Red Blossom’s Keemun and their Hunan Black are in my cupboard.

So why do I think this Alfi is great? Well, in general, I make myself a pot in the morning & then drink it throughout the day. I used to have various tea cosies to fit various tea pots to try to keep it warm, etc. but by the third cup, I needed a microwave to warm it up. Yes, I have done it and lived to tell the tale. If you microwave with the milk in, you don’t have to do it as long & usually it tastes OK to me.

But this Alfi has an internal glass thermos with a sealed lid that opens and pours with a finger press. It keeps that pot of tea (without a stained tea cosy) beautifully hot and drinkable for a very long time. Here is one of my Alfis at home. It’s sitting on a tile my husband bought me when he went to the Taj Mahal. Nothing’s too good for my Alfi….

Alfi.jpg

As a romance reader, I connected, then expanded my reading in the genre in a similarly tentative manner–first Austen, then Regencies, then a fearful exploration into historicals and contemporaries when demand far exceeded supply.

Thinking about the visceral and physical aspects of tea helped me understand my (and perhaps other reader’s) reading process. Sometimes trying a new tea opens a whole new world–but if you’re conservative, it takes being forced to try something new in order to get you off the tried and true. For me with tea, it was being served a delicious new type at a restaurant. With reading, my reading world has been expanded by gift books, a friend’s vociferous recommendation, or a desperation buy when travelling….

A new format–tea bags, a thermal pot–opens up a new drinking experience and new opportunities. I think of audio books, eBooks, mobile and eReaders in that vein. And sometimes the issue is expectations: if I don’t think of this drink as tea, but open my mind and consider it just as a hot beverage–does it taste good? So for me, I’ve been able to explore Chai (a bit). And to connect the tea/reading experience, to enjoy urban fantasy and other relationship novels that include romance, but are not Romances.

What–and how–have your horizons been expanded?

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