A national newspaper once pilloried me for saving money, suggesting I was careful to the point of mean. We never buy that paper and we never speak its name, so I can’t tell you which one it was. When my poetry book is e-published and goes viral, doing for rhyme and form what Fifty Shades of Grey has done for mommy porn, I will refuse to allow it to be serialised in that particular paper. So there!
The thrust of their argument was that I re-use teabags and therefore I am a heinous person. They conned me into posing with used tea bags on my washing line, claiming it was ‘a light-hearted piece’. And so it was, if by ‘light-hearted’ they meant, ‘vicious to the point of stabbing her in the heart with a teaspoon.’ But I’m not bitter, unlike that editor’s soul.
I do re-use tea bags. I don’t hang them on the washing line. Here’s how it works:
I drink milk, water, the occasional glass of wine or Dandelion & Burdock, and Earl Grey Tea. I drink tea all day long. I like tea; it’s refreshing. I don’t do drugs, snue gliffing or alcohol to excess so, in the scheme of things, it’s not a dangerous addiction. I’m not likely to mug a granny for the price of a china cup of char. I don’t get high on bergamot & lemon fumes. I refuse to apologise or stand up at the TA* and declare, ‘My name is Tilly. I am a tea-drinker.’
* Tea-drinkers Anonymous; not the Territorial Army. I’m hardly likely to wander into barracks and declare ‘I drink tea,’ am I? Not if I’ve had my regular doses, anyway.
We are on a minuscule budget and fifty Twinings Earl Grey Decaffeinated teabags cost around £3.59. That’s more than seven pence a cup!
I drink an average ten cups a day. Seventy pence a day x seven days a week x four weeks a month x thirteen months a year because four weeks x twelve months adds up to only forty-eight weeks and I’m not giving tea up for a day, never mind a whole imaginary month = £254.80.
I know I could use that money to go on holiday or buy gifts for my boys or pay my gas bill (it hasn’t stopped raining since last September; of course I’ve got my heating on in July), but I won’t. And you can’t make me.
I drink decaff after noon and regular before noon, and the regular is a little cheaper; but if I drank regular Earl Grey all day I’d get no sleep and start writing daft posts about ordinary things, and you wouldn’t want that, would you?
I drink my Earl Grey black. I drink ordinary tea with milk, not too weak, not too strong, no sugar, not too milky, just so you know when I visit you. I’m easy to please, so long as you make it exactly how I like it.
Black Earl Grey is strong. I don’t like strong tea; I’m not that northern. Making my tea is a matter of pour, wiggle, remove. Around a third of its natural strength. That’s two-thirds of a tea bag unused. In this – or any – economy, that’s a scandalous waste of money. Would you throw away two thirds of the contents of your tea box? Of course not.
Excuse the blurry photos – I’m useless before the third cup of tea.
This is what I do every morning when I get up:
- Put the kettle on (filling only to the required level; don’t waste energy, water and money by over-filling the kettle).
- Set out three cups – one wide; one large; one small.
- Make the first brew in the wide cup: pour, wiggle, remove. It cools quickly, giving me an immediate fix.
- Put used bag in large cup.
- Make the second brew with breakfast – pour, wiggle-iggle, remove. A large cup, to wash down the meal; not wide, or it would cool before I’ve finished eating and it has to be drunk at just the right temperature: not too hot, not too cold.
- Put used bag in small cup.
- Make the third brew around ten. A small cup, because the tea is beginning to lose its strength. Pour, leave to stand for a minute, double wiggle, squeeze, remove tea bag to food recycling box.
There’s nothing weird about that, is there?
Why don’t you visit me, and we’ll discuss it over a nice cup of tea?