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BY THOMAS WALKER, M. A.
TRINITY COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE,
BARRISTER AT LAW, AND ONE OF THE POLICE MAGISTRATES OF THE METROPOLIS.
PUBLISHED EVERY WEDNESDAY AT 12 O'CLOCK, BY H. RENSHAW,
356, STRAND, NEARLY OPPOSITE WELLINGTON STREET.
No. XXVIII.) WEDNESDAY, NOV. 25, 1835. [PRICE 3d.
Tea and Coffee.
TEA AND COFFEE.
I was intending to make coffee the subject of an article, when I received an anonymous communication beginning thus: “When you next want a subject for “The Original, let me suggest to you to try your hand at a dissertation on making tea and coffee, so as to produce the best of each.” Making tea is a very simple process, and consists merely of pouring boiling water upon the leaf. In making both tea and coffee, I believe it is better to use water which has only just boiled, than that which has been long over the fire. The latter, I fancy, has something vapid about it, but of this I am not certain. Soft water I have always understood to be preferable to hard. It is scarcely necessary to say that in order to make good tea, it is requisite to provide a good material. The process I should recommend, as most certain to prove satisfactory, is as follows. Have a kettle in the room. As soon as the water boils, pour some into the tea pot to heat it; then put in as much tea as will produce the desired strength, not by long infusion, but almost immediately. Pour the water hot from the fire upon the tea. Put the quantity you like of sugar and good cream into your cup, and pour the tea upon them, stirring it as you pour, and all one way round, which causes a smoothness and amalgamation very agreeable to the palate. I am now supposing you to be drinking tea for the sake of the tea. Under other circumstances you must do as well as you can. During the season of fires, I think a kettle much preferable to an urn, as ensuring a better condition of the water. With respect to the look of the thing, that is no consideration with me in comparison with the real advantage. As to the trouble of reaching it, that is not much ; and there is nothing good to be had without some trouble. Letting tea stand long to get the strength out, or putting it near the fire to stew, is a very erroneous practice. The quicker it is made the more delicate is the flavour. Long infusion makes it coarse and harsh. For this reason the second cup cannot be expected to be as agreeable as the first; but I recommend a habit to be acquired of taking only one 'cup on ordinary occasions. I think more weakens the digestive powers. A habit of sipping, instead of gulping, will make a small quantity produce as much enjoyment as a large one, and the difference as to health and elasticity of tone is immense. This question of quantity I recommend to the consideration of ladies, some of whom are apt to think that there is no harm in liquids except from strength. A small quantity of finely-flavoured green tea, made rather strong, and mixed with a large proportion of hot milk, is a very agreeable variety at breakfast. The ingredients should be stirred well together. Speaking from my own experience, I should say it is expedient to be cautious in the use of green tea in the later part of the day. Formerly I passed many sleepless nights without being at all aware that green tea was the cause.. It sometimes makes me feel as if I
should never want to sleep again; but that sensation is followed by a corresponding exhaustion, which must be very prejudicial to the system, especially in the case of persons subject to nervous affections. A cup of tea, with the addition of a little toast and an egg, according to the wants of the appetite, is particularly agreeable and satisfactory an hour or two before a late dinner; and in country houses, when a party comes in from the usual exercise, especially at this season of the year when there is a considerable interval before dinner, and when there is frequent exposure to cold or damp, there is something peculiarly pleasant, as I can assert from experience, in a little easy tea association. Previously to exercise, or to much exertion of any kind, particularly where there is any hurrying, either of body or mind, tea is much preferable to coffee, whether at breakfast or at any other part of the day. Tea, in moderation, prevents fever and thirst ; coffee causes them. Strong coffee, especially with eggs, taken at breakfast, and followed by any excitement, corporeal or mental, will produce a very disagreeable degree of thirst for the whole day. If it is used under such circumstances, it should be in great moderation. Any excess in strong coffee is at all times almost sure to produce feverish sensations. The French are particularly cautious in their use of coffee. At breakfast they dilute it with a great deal of hot milk, and after dinner, when they take it strong and without milk or cream, as far as my observation goes, they confine themselves strictly to one small cup. I once went, with a friend of mine, into a coffee-house at Paris, which was famous for the excellence of the coffee, and we drank two cups each. When we came to pay, we had some difficulty in persuading the waiter to take our money; he seemed to think our proceeding so much out of rule as to be scarcely credible. In travelling, which, without care, is a constant state of fever, tea is greatly to be preferred on every account to coffee. In what I have said in respect to making tea, and in what I am going to say respecting coffee, I can
only give general ideas; those who wish to become proficients must trust to their own observation and experiments.
The art of making coffee is more difficult, at least it is more seldom succeeded in, in this country, than that of making tea. Coffee should be hot, clear, and strong. In the first place the material should be good ; that from Mocha is the best, when it can be procured, which I believe is very rarely. I have been told by a great connoisseur that coffee imported in small parcels, is better flavoured than that in bulk, from the circumstance that the latter is apt to undergo a process of heating, more or less. In order to have coffee in the greatest perfection, it should be roasted, ground, and made in immediate succession. As that can seldom happen, the rule should be observed as nearly as circumstances will allow. Whilst kept after roasting, the air should be excluded from it as much as possible, and, I believe, for that purpose a glass bottle or jar, with a ground stopper, is the most efficacious. The best mode of roasting, I was informed by the authority above mentioned, is an earthen basin placed in an oven with the door open—the coffee to be frequently stirred with a spoon. 'This mode is said to allow certain coarse particles to fly off, and to render the flavour more delicate than when the usual close
cylinder is used. I only speak on this head from what I have been told, and I think I have heard a difference of opinion. The receipt I am going to give for making coffee, I have just learnt for the purpose from Doctor Forbes, whom I have quoted in my twenty-fourth number on the subject of salads. His coffee is excellent. He uses a biggin, which consists of a lower cylinder to receive the coffee when precipitated, and an upper one, the bottom of which is exceedingly finely pierced. The first thing to be done is to make the vessel hot with boiling water; then put the coffee into it in the proportion of a full ounce to two French cups, which hold five meat spoonfuls of liquid each. Do not, as is usual, press the coffee down at all, but only lightly level it. Put on to the top of the machine the moveable cullender, to break the fall of the water, which measure according to the quantity wanted, and pour it in quite boiling. As soon as it is run through, the coffee is ready. By this process the coffee is perfectly clear and bright, and I think the proportion makes it strong enough, the material being of the first quality; but if it is desired to have it stronger, experiment will soon teach the proper quantity. It is convenient to have a measure containing an ounce, or whatever weight is in constant use. The same sized biggin will not answer well for making very different quantities. The upper cylinder, I apprehend, should be rather deep than wide, or the water would run through too fast. By not pressing the coffee down, it is much sooner made, and it appears altogether better, though the method was new to me. The coffee may either be made just as it is wanted, or two or three hours before. In the latter case it should be made quite hot, when served, but on no account boiled, which wastes the flavour. In order to avoid any risk of boiling, it may safely be heated by insertion in boiling water. There is an opinion that it is rather better when heated again, than when used immediately after making, and there is also an opinion the other way. With respect to a lamp under the biggin, it is certainly convenient on many occasions, but I should think that coffee long kept hot in that way, would suffer a diminution of flavour. For large parties I suppose the biggin process is scarcely practicable. I once learned the French mode from a professed maker; but it is so long since, that I cannot charge my memory with the precise particulars. As far as I recollect, the coffee is only just suffered to boil, or else is stopped just before the boiling point. It is fined, I think, by putting a small portion of the skin of a fish into it. One thing only I am certain of, and that is, that the water with which it is made, is previously boiled with a portion of the grounds of the former making in it, or with a small quan_ tity of fresh coffee: opinions were divided, which was the