Remember the first couple times your in-laws shocked you? Interestingly, one of my memories surrounds instant tea. I delegated to a new family member to “bring the drinks” to an event I planned at my new home. When they arrived, two Cost-co sized cans of instant lemonade and instant iced tea were plunked down on my counter moments before the event started. I swallowed hard and chose graciousness (but never forgot it 😉 ).

Mei of Clueless Clay, a new friend from Blog Mastermind, recently commented:

I don’t quite have the equipment or the interest to brew my own tea when I want to invite friends over but somehow drinking instant tea seems a bit unparty-like. Any idea on that?

Well, Mei, you’re on to something my relative was not. I agree. Instant tea doesn’t seem very party-like. Instant tea, lemonade, Tang, etc. just really don’t taste very good. I think coffee drinkers completely understand this. How many coffee drinkers use instant coffee these days? I don’t have specific statistics, but I’m guessing not very many because the other options are so far superior . Tea’s the same way.

The bigger issue is your lack of interest and equipment. Maybe I see it too simplistically, but I think one of the keys to changing your lack of interest is to taste really great tea. Find a friend, tea room, or other vendor who serve great tea and give it a try (sorry, Starbucks doesn’t make their tea well). Tea has taken a while to catch up, but thanks to Alice Waters and California foodies, the convenience of processed foods is no longer outweighing the consumer’s demand for quality. The chemicals and “cheaper” prices are too high a trade-off. See my post The Tea Party Food. It explains Tea Party Girl’s food philosophy in detail and helps shed light on why I would not ever recommend instant tea.

Tea, like coffee, does require some basic equipment. Here is the most pared-down list of essentials for brewing loose-leaf tea. There is actually only one extra tool needed over using tea bags.

  1. A way to boil water. I recommend a tea kettle, but a saucepan with a lid works too. Almost everyone has one of these.
  2. A tea sock or sac. This takes the place of the teabag.
  3. No teapot is needed. Tea can be brewed in the same pan the water is heated in as long as the lid is left on during the brewing. (Otherwise, the water cools down too much and the flavor of the tea will not release.) However, serving tea out of a saucepan at a party might be a little funky. A carafe works, but if it’s been used for coffee and not cleaned out with boiling water and baking soda, your tea will taste like coffee.

And so Mei, if you ever host a tea party event, I know you will please your guests with your attention to detail in serving the best tea available. Be sure to invite your in-laws! I know they’ll be impressed.