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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Miss Whistle, PG, and the Wayward Fax

What brand of tea is the most satisfying regardless of price? For our money, it's PG Tips.

We've been enjoying it daily for 20 years now and still prefer it to all others. The British do, too; it's the most popular tea in England. And it's not expensive at all.

We were introduced to it long ago by our English secretary, the capable, accomplished and good natured Miss Whistle. That is just one of many things for which we will ever be grateful to her.

(Another is the time she cried on the phone to a complete stranger to retrieve a fax that we mistakenly had sent to the wrong party and which would have compromised us had it fallen into unworthy hands. Of course that was the year we got our first fax machine and were unaware of the damage it could inflict–on us. What an unfortunate mess might have resulted were it not for the courageous Miss Whistle! But we digress.)

PG isn't what you call a gourmet product. Britons of all classes consume large amounts of it with regularity. We've tried more expensive teas, but none is as pleasurable or as comforting as dear old PG.

In the U.S. you'll find PG at better markets and wherever British products are sold. (A note of warning: Be sure to check the expiration date on the package for freshness.)

Here are a few pointers for making a good cup of tea:
  • For a smooth, full taste start with cold filtered water
  • Always warm the pot for a short while with some hot water; then throw it out, put your PG in the pot and refill with hot water
  • The water you use should be very hot but not boiling; let it come to a full boil; turn off the heat and wait a few seconds before making tea
  • Warm your cups, too, with hot water before pouring your tea
  • If you take milk, as the British do, warm it in a small pan or the microwave until its scalding but do not let it boil; and never use cold milk from the fridge in your tea; that's a no no!
In case you were wondering, "tips" refers to the fact that only the tips (the top two leaves and bud) of the tea plants are used in the blend. If you must know what the "PG" part stands for, look it up on their website as it's too complicated to explain here. In any case, it's not Procter & Gamble; PG is made by Unilver.

And now, something for the kiddies:

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