I'm sipping on a fresh, hot cup of English Breakfast Tea, one of the Twinings of London varieties.
My normal way of making a cup of tea is to put a teabag in a cup of cold water and put it in the microwave for 3 minutes and 20 seconds. That's the time I do it for in my own particular microwave, although I was at someone else's place the other day and their microwave was more powerful than mine so it didn't take as long. At 3 minutes and 20 seconds it's still not boiling in mine, but in theirs it was boiling way before that. Whether it boils or not, though, doesn't seem to make any difference.
Anyway, my post here wasn't meant to be a lesson on how to boil water. Most of us know how to do that.
In the course of my 3 minutes and 20 seconds today, I had time to go to the bathroom. Then there was still a little time, so I started reading the tea box, reading the official instructions (what they call "suggestions.") It says, "Pour freshly boiled water over teabag and allow to brew for 2-5 minutes depending on desired strength." That clearly would take a little longer, because you've got to get the water boiling, then wait an additional 2-5 minutes. But there must be some good reason for it. I'll take another sip. It's still pretty good my way, and, anyway, they say it's just a "suggestion."
Also in reading the box, I came across this nugget, and I thought I'd share it: "English Breakfast can be enjoyed with or without milk, sweetened or unsweetened -- the choice is yours."
It's the last phrase that got me. "The choice is yours." I laughed, because of course the choice is yours. I've never heard of the Tea Police who come kicking your door down because you prepared a cup of tea in something other than the approved manner. Some Twinings secret agents, long posing as your friendly neighbors, then, when they've gained your trust, start inquiring as to how you make your tea, all with the purpose of ensnaring you in a confession, complete self incrimination.
Then, after your guilt is determined, they come and confiscate all your remaining tea, and the police sell your microwave to fund their Beverages Enforcement Unit, since it had been used in the commission of a crime. Not only that crime, but the more technical crime of boiling water without a boiling permit, like the way the law says a narcotics offender needs a "drug stamp" before selling illegal drugs.
(My tea's getting cold while I write all that legalese.)
"The choice is yours." Of course it is. But that's just Twinings' nice way of saying it can be prepared several different ways, depending on your own taste. Just because it's called "Breakfast," they say it's "not just for breakfast." OK. Then it can "be enjoyed with or without milk." It seems like we used to put milk in tea when I was a kid, but I haven't done that for years. It'd probably be OK but I think I like it better without. And it can be enjoyed "sweetened or unsweetened." If you want it sweet, put some sweetener in it. As for myself, it all depends. Generally -- this is my typical habit -- I just drink it straight. One thing I hate, though, is sweetened iced tea. It has to be straight! If I ever catch someone making sweetened iced tea, I have my own little police force, and we swoop in and confiscate the remaining bags and microwave, as above.
"The choice is yours." Just make the right choice!