I’ve just finished reading ‘The Campaign for Domestic Happiness‘ by Mrs Isabella Beeton. I admit I was swayed in my book choice by the picture of a teacup on the front cover, but the book is mainly about how to manage your household followed by some recipes. I’ve learnt that I need to be an early riser to ensure my house is ‘orderly and well-managed’. If I ‘remain in bed till a late hour, then the domestics… will surely become sluggards’ (page 10 of the eBook edition). I always knew my inability to sleep late was going to be good for something.
The section on tea is intriguing, mostly because it comes under the heading of ‘Recipes for Beverages’ (page 83). How many cookbooks nowadays come with instructions on how to make tea? It’s just taken for granted that we can. Mrs Beeton thought there was ‘very little art in making good tea; if the water is boiling, and there is no sparing of the fragrant leaf, the beverage will almost invariably be good’ (page 84).
Interestingly, she recommends putting the tea into the teapot, adding a small amount of boiling water and brewing for five to ten minutes – then topping up the pot with water. She stands by the ‘old-fashioned plan of allowing a teaspoonful [of tea] to each person, and one over’ (page 84).
I’m not sure about the idea of brewing a small amount of tea first and topping it up with hot water, but I might try it the next time I make a pot of tea and see what it’s like.
There’s not as much about tea in here as I’d like, considering the cover image, but the section on managing a household had me entertained for a good while. Well worth a read and I’m looking forward to reading others in the ‘Great Food‘ series.