THE FLY RIVER DISTRICT

Correct tea requires two pots: the boiling pot and the steeping pot.  If circumstance allows, china or perhaps a good ceramic is preferred although for months at a time I’ve been forced to condescend to one pot and that one battered tin.  The cup and the pot enhance the flavor.  Water quality is important, and the fresh boiled water must be used immediately. Otherwise, one loses oxygen from the water being over-boiled. Over-boiled, use of teabags with strings, these things amount to grave sin.

Good fresh tea, preferably some sort of dark China Black, fresh, or failing that one may resort to available herbs.

The degree of steeping is dependent upon whether you choose to add milk or cream.  Many who use cream and sugar steep a tea long enough to tan a hide were it applied straight.

Some straining of the leaves is desirable before the tea is poured.  The alternative is the old British Army method where the tea is carried in the pocket and once brewed, strained between the teeth.  With unknown guests, you will not want to pour a cup with visible leaves.  I am quite content to let tomorrow take care of itself and fall as it will.  Pour a cup of tea for the wrong crone with visible leaves, and she may tell you more about your tomorrow than you care to hear.

Finally, tea is style.

Somewhere north of the Fly River District in New Guinea, my great uncle and his squad from the 32nd Infantry hunkered down at the bend of a jungle track, pinned by a Japanese gun whose fire came uncomfortably close.

A British lorry tooled down the track at a high rate of speed.  They frantically waved the lorry down.  The Brits stopped, almost irritated at the interruption at what appeared their Sunday motoring jaunt.

Until one of the Brits remembered, “Tea time anyway, old chap.” 

They pulled out a wicker basket with an elaborate tea making kit and in the middle of the bombardment proceeded with their formal high tea.

In the process of packing up their tea kit, one of them asked, “And where did you say the gun was?”

Informed of the obstacle, they assembled a mortar from the back of the lorry, blew the hell out of the Nip gun, and with a half-wave only a proper Englishman can quite do right motored on down the track.


Edd B. Jennings runs a beef cattle on the banks of the New River in the mountains of Virginia.  His work has appeared in numerous literary magazines.

 

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