Each area of the U.S. has its food specialties. Southern states have their great, rib-sticking, take-a-nap-after-lunch cooking, such as fried chicken, mashed potatoes, homemade biscuits, collard greens, and black-eyed peas. The northeast has its seafood and baked beans. Texans have barbecue and country-fried. The southwest has its cuisine with a strong Hispanic influence, and California has “California cuisine.” These are just a few of the coast-to-coast goodies.
Whatever the dish and the region, one thing is essential: a great kitchen in which to cook.
Such a kitchen has a refrigerator large enough to hold the ingredients and the few leftovers, a stove with plenty of burners and an oven that can heat food evenly and accurately, a big sink to clean the pots and pans, and a dishwasher to scrub the last bit of potato or grease off the plates. For those of us who live the “tea life,” one element is just as essential: a tea station.
“What’s a tea station?” you query. Good question. Thought you’d never ask.
Tea Station Essential
Quite simply, a tea station is a spot where most of the things you need to prepare your tea are located. This saves a bit of time, effort, and injuries (from bumping into family members also seeking sustenance).
Some items you will need in your tea station:
- TEA! (bet you didn’t see that one coming!)
- Your sweetener of choice (sugar, honey, aspartame, etc.)
- Your teapot array:
- a 1-cup for brewing up that special cupful just for you
- a 2-cup for a larger portion of that special brew or for sharing with your sweetheart
- a 4-cup for tea with the family
- and a 6-cup to make a potful for your afternoon tea party or to have through the day
- A tea cozy or two (definitely one for the 6-cup teapot)
- A selection of your favorite mugs and/or teacups and saucers, plus teaspoons
- A tea strainer (or a teabag holder, if you prefer bags to loose tea)
- A spoon rest for your teaspoons
- Optional: A tray (or, as I do, a turntable) on which to set the pot, sweetener, tea strainer (or teabag holder), and spoon rest.
The next consideration, as they say in the real estate game, is “Location! Location! Location!”
I can’t be too specific here, since kitchen layouts vary widely from simple galley-style to farmhouse to gourmet, but I can give you some general guidelines:
- Keep it in an area where you can prepare your tea without interfering with anyone else preparing food.
- Be a short enough walk from the stove for you fill the teapot by the stove once the kettle has boiled and easily to carry it to the tea station (always fill the pot by the stove, instead of carrying the kettle to the pot, so that the water doesn’t get a chance to cool).
- Ditto for the microwave (if you heat your water there instead of on the stove).
- Be a step or two away from the refrigerator so you can easily get to the milk or lemon.
- Be within easy proximity to the pantry or cupboard where your cookies and other tea-time treats are squirreled away.
Once you have your tea station all set up, you will be ready whenever the urge arises to indulge in a daily “tea moment” as part of living the tea life. As for what food goes best with your tea of choice, that’s another article. For now, pick a tea, pick one of your local food favorites and enjoy. Cheers!
© 2009-2016 A.C. Cargill photos and text