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March 12, 2014

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It's all about the Star-Belly Sneetches.

Coffee first. Dump the tea.

Here's an even better discriminator for class status. My grandfather came to America in 1910 and worked as a washerman in a laundry. He poured his tea (with milk and sugar) into his saucer and slurped it. I don't see the Queen slurping.

I see Bob Sykes ancestors practiced similar habits to mine.

My paternal grandfather's habit with his coffee after Sunday dinner was to sit magisterially at the head of the table as my grandmother (Nomy (Naomi), I'll have coffee now, please) poured the hot liquid to about the two-thirds level in his cup and then he would pour milk into the cup, filling it to the brim and then keep pouring until the mixture overflowed into the saucer until it too was nearly filled.

Then he would lean over and sip/slurp noisily from the cup before picking it up and draining it, then set it aside, and lift the saucer with both hands and slurp the rest down his gullet, with great acoustic effects.

We grandchildren would observe this with great interest as we awaited our pie, and in fact, for me, at least, the ritual became something to look forward to. We must have asked him why he did this, but I don't remember his answer, although we may not have inquired because he came across as a stern German set in his ways, though certainly a nice man.

I haven't any theory to explain his method, but
even if we had striven to impose a Borg like uniformity of thought in the area of coffee drinking, while maintaining an outward appearance of treasuring freedom of speech and diversity of opinion, I don't think he could have been imposed upon.

With him it was nuclear all the time, take it or leave it.

Maybe my theory is that Brett Bellmore is my grandfather.

Commence the gene replacement therapy.

Insert a Dick Cheney happy face here with that crocodile-like showing of the teeth out of one side of the mouth to signify amusement.

I will never tire of "which is mine."

it has to be MIL because milk is the diluent, not the base.

you dispense a sufficient amount of base, then dilute until the proper concentration is attained, not the other way around.

I wonder who got the idea of spoiling tea, TEA, with milk? Coffee, yes, but TEA?

I thought the class marker was the extended pinky while drinking from a teacup.

Btw, my mugs don't split with heat from mere boiling water, they are made from steel (I assume with some thermal insulator between outer and inner surface). I am decidedly not upper class.

I go tea first, but it's because the sugar disolves easier in the hot tea, before the milk cools it. My teapot is glass, so I know in advance how strong it is.

I wondeer if, in the US, it isn't a matter of seeing drinking tea at all is high class.

Everybody in America, from all classes, drinks coffee. (Heaven knnows why, as it tastes dreadful! That's why people put milk and sugar in it.) But the only time any American, who is not either upper class or middle class and hoping to be upwardly mobile, drinks (hot) tea rather than coffee is if they are in a Chinese restaurant. In working class or lower middle class homes, it just doesn't happen.

But perhaps I am guilty of projecting my own cultural environment onto the rest of the country. Does it seem that way outside Northern California?

Dr. S: " In the US, tea is more often drunk cold than hot, and hot tea is more often served with lemon than with milk."

wj: " But the only time any American, who is not either upper class or middle class and hoping to be upwardly mobile, drinks (hot) tea rather than coffee is if they are in a Chinese restaurant."

Both of these sentiments were perhaps true 30 years ago, but not anymore. The only places I tend to get lemon with my tea are hold-over family-style restaurants such as diners etc.

More and more Americans are drinking tea.

I live in a medium-sized city (about 500k, 1M in the metro area) nowhere near anyplace trendy. We have 3 loose-leaf tea shops, not including the awful chain version (Teavana) that Starbuck's bought a little while back.

We even have a tea society where tea-mined folks can get together once a month and, well, drink tea. Not High Tea - there are no finger sandwiches and doilies. It's casual. None of us are upper class, nor I think are we aspirants.

As to the tea-first, milk-first question: 1) teabags are terrible. 2) With a few exceptions (e.g., chai) if you're drinking your tea with milk, you probably need better tea (cf. coffee). 3) Okay, that's unfair. But for reasons mentioned above (keeping the cup warm, base vs. dilutent) tea first every time.

(Good chai should be boiled with a milk-water combination anyway.)

[Heh, you've touched on one of my hobbies. Eagerly awaiting the pipe-smoking thread.]

After packaging the loose tea, they sweep the floors and put it in teabags. :)

"We even have a tea society where tea-mined folks can get together once a month and, well, drink tea."

So, that's where all those tea party people are coming from.

class markers are weird.

that said, i am a habitual eater of chi-chi stuff like arugula and french cheeses. i blame my wife, before we met my idea of 'eating out' was brother's diner.

ask tony p, he knows.

for me, for general caffeinated beveraging it's tea, hot, no adulterants please, preferably green tea but a nice earl grey works too.

bulk, no teabags.

i highly recommend upton tea, a mail order outfit near worcester MA, their stuff is great and is reasonably priced.

coffee, decaf, black, after a meal, just to tie a nice bitter alkaloid bow on top of things. it's like punctuation. black coffee with something sweet on the side, even better, just for the ying-yang effect.

i'm a big hot tea drinker. my favorite right now is Vietnamese black from Souvia. it's relatively cheap, simple, non-fussy, but yummy. IMO.

no milk or sugar, except for chai. no lemon except for iced.

coffee after a big dinner + dessert, out on the town, is nice. but i rarely touch it otherwise.

This post started me thinking about how as a kid I knew class distinctions even though no one that I recall ever overtly taught them to me. I was middle class and so was nearly everyone else in the college town in the Midwest where I was raised. But were were lower class or poor or white trash people (not that anyone ever called them that, but I learned anyway).

So how to tell? By high school the marker was taste in music. In middle school the marker was clothes, not price range so much as style. The middle class kids were influenced by the British invasion and the others were still stuck in the fifties.

Another class distinction which I think exists in the US is the amount and manner of TV viewing. Having the TV on constantly, watched or not, is lower class. Watching selectively by way of Roku is middle class.

I can't speculate on upper class markers since I'm not. My ony exposure to that rarified life stye was a visti to New Yrk when I ws a kid and I remember all the Daimlers.

I wonder who got the idea of spoiling tea, TEA, with milk? Coffee, yes, but TEA?

There's teas it really works well for. Not many, but some. Chai was mentioned upthread, and Indian classmates in grad school introduced me to the revolutionary (but correct) concept that milk can add a nice complement to an Earl Grey. Not that it must, but that it can.

For my tastes, though, I want my tea strong, black, and unadulterated. By preference, a quality Assam, Keemun, or tarry (lapsang in a pinch) souchong. But if I were diluting, tea first, yeah.

We even have a tea society where tea-mined folks can get together once a month and, well, drink tea.

In grad school, my School of Computer Science had a tea club that met weekly. This was an extremely culturally diverse college within a prestigious university, but we were in a working-class city that was entirely able to support said club's taste for varied and exotic teas. Having said that, the weekly gatherings were definitely unpretentious affairs (again, we're talking CS students), though they did certainly broaden the horizons of all involved. For e.g., I never would have discovered the amazing wonder that is "horse sweat" tea without it. That would have been for the best, to be perfectly honest, as that name doesn't lie - but broadened horizons, dammit!

1) teabags are terrible

As an irredeemable-but-flexible tea snob, it really depends on the tea bag. There are manufacturers out there who take quality tea, bag it, and then hermetically seal the bags, and you can brew as good a cuppa from them as you can from loose. You pay through the nose for it - far more than you would for bulk - but there's good bagged tea out there, and sometimes the portability of the bagged tea wins out over propriety* and basic human decency. So perhaps I'm more of an irredeemable (yet snobby) tea junkie than a garden-variety irredeemable tea snob...

(Good chai should be boiled with a milk-water combination anyway.)

I'll up the ante by rephrasing this as real chai.

*As someone raised in the rural Midwest, who only ever had oversteeped Lipton made with wellwater and drowned in lemon juice while growing up, my adult pinky has been known to drift outward when having a proper tea from a proper teacup. *sigh*

wj:

Everybody in America, from all classes, drinks coffee. (Heaven knnows why, as it tastes dreadful! That's why people put milk and sugar in it.)

You're killing me, wj! There is more to coffee than Folgers crystals and whatever was on the burner at the local Denny's.

I'll admit that I have an acquired taste for 'bad diner coffee' but there is much much more out there.

If you're ever near Sac, Chocolate Fish makes a really solid cup. Blue Bottle in SF is all the rage these days, and I'll admit its good, but I wasn't blown away.

Both are a little pricey (~2.50 IIRC) so not an every day thing but when I make it to one of the cities I try to stop by.

If you want some good coffee made at home, a friend of mine taught me an 'old (train) engineer trick' from when he worked on SP. French press, cold water, overnight in the fridge (or just leave it outside when you are camping).

Press it the next morning, heat it up and you are good to go. It's not nearly as bitter and acidic because of the low temp extraction.

Lasts for a few days, so you can make a few cups at a time and just take what you need each day.

I've since learned its some classy way of preparing coffee and is in vogue among the coffee snobs these days. I prefer thinking of the train engineer stopped on the tracks somewhere on a cold desert night in the southwest. But, the point is, it works.

"Does it seem that way outside Northern California?"

I don't know about other people, but I drink tea because coffee taste dreadful. (Although it smells remarkably nice.) I use milk in it, because I usually buy cheap tea.

When I use lemon in it, it's because I have a cold.

Brett, we have found a subject on which I have to say you are a man of remarkable good sense and good taste! (Which is to say, you agree with me. ;-)

Thompson, I suppose it is possible to make coffee taste good. Or at least tolerable. But the question is, why bother? Even a bad cup of tea is at least tolerable; only an exceptional cup of coffee is. There really is a pattern here....

Both of these sentiments were perhaps true 30 years ago, but not anymore.

I'd agree. When I attend early morning meetings, there tends to be a roughly 30/70 split between tea and coffee.

Although that is based on the presence of the tea bag tags sticking out of travel mugs, so the ratio could be off.

But I'd say tea is hardly rare these days, at least in (to directly contradict wj) Northern CA.

thompson, I guess that's what I get for telecommuting for the last decade or so.

But then, IT folks (which is who I would be in meetings with) tend to be in my category of upwardly mobile middle class. We don't all make it past upper middle class, but we all like to think that we might.

But the question is, why bother?

Yeah, don't have a good answer for you, not trying to twist your arm into giving coffee another shot. To each their own. If I had to give you an answer:

Well, same reason you bother with anything new. You might like it, its a good experience, etc etc. Coffee has a really broad range, with a lot of unique and interesting flavors, depending on beans and preparation.

Same with tea. Why bother with it? Because there is a lot of good stuff out there, even if your early experience was oversteeped Lipton loaded with lemon.

Beer is another good exemplar. There are a lot of people that try a Coors Light (which, I'll admit, I don't mind) once and say 'ugh, why would anybody ever drink beer?' and lose out on all the fun and interesting things you can do with beer.

Regarding the MIF/L question, I really can't comment on the class question due to utter, utter lack of qualifications.

I pretty much never add any adulterant to coffee or tea: it conceals the real flavors.

Ah, reasoning with savages is thirsty work, I'll have to go refill my coffee.

I'm not sure about this whole thing: I have spent a fair amount of years in the UK now and have never, ever seen anybody put milk first (and I'm not upper class but move among all sort of circles) - as cleek points out, it just doesn't make sense.

Teabags can be awesome, but this terrible habit has spread: people don't give you any type of saucer, let alone spoon to remove the tea bag in a hygienic and orderly fashion. They seem to expect you to drink the tea while the teabag is in the cup, which is just awful.

Anyway, it's not that big of a deal for me since I generally prefer double espressos.

I guess that's what I get for telecommuting for the last decade or so.

Hah, if only I could, I would. You aren't missing much beyond the slow rise in tea's dominance in the CA market.

Also traffic and office gossip.

I'm gunna go ahead and say you've probably come out ahead.

I use a Keurig to make my tea, so I put the sugar in first, followed by the tea, and then the half-and-half.

If you want some good coffee made at home, a friend of mine taught me an 'old (train) engineer trick' from when he worked on SP. French press, cold water, overnight in the fridge (or just leave it outside when you are camping).

Yes, I have a setup for doing that. It's not for everyday, because coffee without acid is a bit like Jack Daniels without that bile flavor.

Oh, wait. Maybe that's not a good comparison. Sometimes a cup of coffee with some bite is what is wanted, though.

I prefer my tea green and sans milk or any other despoilant.

Did this issue come up on Downton Abbey (which I don't watch)? I ask because someone mentioned this precise issue at coffee hour after church just a week or two ago. He pointed out that his method was that of the lower classes. I don't think I've ever heard anyone mention it before.

i bought some killer Japanese sencha when i was there a while back, and it came in bags - nylon mesh bags. made from only virgin, hand-picked nylon, i'm sure. to me, all of Japan smelled like green tea, so i'll defer to them about the pros/cons of bags.


i still have a few left, and even though the tea inside the bags is no longer green, it does make a nice cup of tea.

The middle class kids were influenced by the British invasion and the others were still stuck in the fifties.

So you grew up in an S.E. Hinton novel (Soc v. Greaser)?

"They liked the Beatles and thought Elvis Presley was out, and we thought the Beatles were rank and that Elvis was tuff, but that seemed the only difference to me."

stay gold, hsh.

whenever i walk out of a movie theater, i think about the first line: "When I stepped out into the bright sunlight, from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home."

i used to say it out loud, but nobody got the reference. now i just think it.

strong black coffee with a neat shot of good whiskey on the side.

I don't get tea. Never liked it, especially when coated with sweetened dairy product. But otherwise agree with Slart.

The thing about tea is that - when both are correctly brewed - it has a much broader range of flavor than coffee. As I said upthread, I grew up on Lipton, and thought it was vile. As an adult, I gave tea writ large another chance, branched out, and started trying assorted different kinds. There's (properly brewed) tea out there that makes burnt drip coffee taste smooth and subtle, and there's tea that can't take 1/4 Tsp of sugar without completely masking its flavor. I tend more towards the strong end of the spectrum rather than the subtle - I do love a good smoked tea - but each to their own.

(And if your own is not getting tea, that's fine too. I generally dislike coffee and tend to drink it off-white when I take a fancy to the idea (and/or scent) of the stuff, so I'd have zero room to judge.)

While my normal tea is Tetley's, brewed in a coffee maker, if I'm in the mood for a really good cup, I pull out the Alghazaleen. Great stuff!

strong black coffee with a neat shot of good whiskey on the side.

It's supposed to be on the side? That must be why people look at me funny in the morning...how embarrassing!

And thanks for the link, Slart, I've never seen those before. Sounds like you like yours?

If below, the cup and/or saucer is balanced precariously, inviting an accident. Also makes it hard to reach. If above you are unnecessarily engaging one of your hands in a pointless activity. So yes, side is best.

You could dump it in, but that cools the coffee overly. A slow dribble works for me as you go.

I'll have to get one of those Slarti-brewers. Does he get a commission I wonder?

If below, the cup and/or saucer is balanced precariously

But what a pub trick!

If you want some good coffee made at home, a friend of mine taught me an 'old (train) engineer trick' from when he worked on SP. French press, cold water, overnight in the fridge (or just leave it outside when you are camping).

This sounds a lot like a New Orleans technique called cold drip. You end up with a concentrate and then dilute it, possibly with milk, to taste and heat it up.

I grew up drinking tea, and putting milk in it, first or last, seems like an abomination, much like the various concoctions that people label "tea" these days.

But the only time any American, who is not either upper class or middle class and hoping to be upwardly mobile, drinks (hot) tea rather than coffee is if they are in a Chinese restaurant. In working class or lower middle class homes, it just doesn't happen.

Simply not true. have you ever known any Jewish immigrants from eastern Europe? While I can't speak generally for the gentiles, I do recall that Bill Skowron, a power hitting first baseman for the 1950's Yankees, of Polish descent, was known for prolific tea consumption.

The real class determinant in Britain now is whether tea as a meal refers to a snack taken in the late afternoon, or the main meal of the day in the early evening. This is also affected by the North /South divide (only middle class southerners refer to the evening meal as "high" tea). Everybody these days puts milk in last and drinks the stuff out of mugs, unless they're marooned in a posh hotel for some reason.

otherwise agree with Slart

We will not speak of this again. ;)

And thanks for the link, Slart, I've never seen those before. Sounds like you like yours?

Yes, although I haven't used it much lately. It makes the coffee so concentrated that you'll need to dilute it. It's about 1 lb of coffee per brew, and it makes about a quart.

I used to make myself a toddyful before driving any long distance. If it was winter, I'd buy myself a hot chocolate, pour some off and fill up the rest with toddy. There's only so much black coffee I can drink, you see.

Because you keep the brew in the refrigerator, it's excellent too for iced coffee. Which most of you are probably not thinking of just this second, but we're within a week or two of iced coffee season here in FL.

Getting back to the whiskey in/on the side dispute, toddy might be brought to a more reasonable strength by adequately diluting it with whiskey.

And no, no commission. But I have bought some for friends as gifts. They have to first express a desire for such a thing, though.

"I do recall that Bill Skowron, a power hitting first baseman for the 1950's Yankees, of Polish descent, was known for prolific tea consumption."

That's a factoid that will come in handy at some point.

The Moose.

I can hear Stengel now: "Now, I've got this guy Skowron who I don't worry about so much. He drinks in the afternoon, 'bout 4 pm he has a nice cup of tea. It's guys like Mantle, Martin and Ford who need a toddy or three at 2:30 am who keep me up at night.

Stengel is funnier than that, so why am I making stuff up?

"They say some of my stars drink whiskey, but I have found that ones who drink milkshakes don't win many ball games."

"Being with a woman all night never hurt no professional baseball player. It's staying up all night looking for a woman that does him in."

"The key to being a good manager is keeping the people who hate me away from those who are still undecided."

"There comes a time in every man's life, and I've had plenty of them."

As for coffee, after coming to it late in life, I need a big cup in the morning and I'm good to go.

Instant will do me.

My attitude about it is essentially that of Captain Beefheart's, the well-known utilitarian, who started out one album or another with the words: "Coffee .. coffee, coffee, coffee, coffee."

Lately, I've been having an occasional cup of tea late in the afternoon.

But the only time any American, who is not either upper class or middle class and hoping to be upwardly mobile, drinks (hot) tea rather than coffee...

This actually got me thinking. I grew up in a house that always had tea (and coffee). I was more inclined to write it off as a cultural marker (hippie parents) than as a class marker, because we were economically working class/lower middle class... but I do spring from two solidly petty bourgeois lines, and when I've actually looked closely at other class markers in my family, we do have more than a few upper-class pretensions interspersed with our otherwise lower- and generically middle-class habits. Admittedly, we always had at least as much tisane (to include random tisanes cobbled together from the family herb garden) around as we did tea, so that points back to the broader cultural explanation over a narrower class-based one, but still, hmm...

This is entertaining. I had no idea that Turks were such big tea drinkers. US consumption per capita seems to be roughly the same as the European median if you discount Ireland, Britain and, of course, Russia. The other thing that surprises me is the difference in consumption between Australia and New Zealand.

It's funny to me how a number of people think coffee tastes awful, but tea is great.

I like strong, dark-roast coffee, and I'm usually bummed when my mug is empty, since I can only drink so much without tweaking on caffiene. (I'm also a kidney-stone former, which keeps me from drinking more coffee as well. A smarter, more-disciplined me would avoid it altogether, or so I imagine.)

It's a similar dynamic with beer for me. I like strong beer - not always dark, but very flavorful. For the most part, those beers are higher in alcohol, upwards of 10% ABV. (Lots of malt and/or hops generally doesn't work either biochemically or flavor-wise without the higher alcohol.) So I can't drink as much beer as I'd otherwise prefer to without getting drunk(er than I'd like). There are some flavorful stouts and wheat beers that don't have a lot of alcohol, but at some point I'm like, "Can a brother get a double IPA or a Belgian trippel around here? How about a Baltic porter?"

Tea's just sort of there. I'm not all that interested, so I fall within wj's Chinese-restaurant dynamic. My grandmother, however, lived on tea. I don't think she put milk in it at all.

...or lemon. Maybe some sweetener, but that's it.

Tea's just sort of there.

ah, but tea has a huge range of flavors: bitter, sweet, malty, spicy, herbal, floral, earthy, smokey - even without getting into the herbal/floral/spice/fruit blends.

some of the fermented Chinese pu-erh teas taste like fish, or forest soil, or mushrooms. there are all kinds of smoked teas. green teas can taste like lawn clippings or flowers. black teas can taste like black pepper or chocolate or the ocean, etc..

my real problem with coffee is the level of caffeine. it's just too much. i'm wired enough with just a cup of tea. coffee makes me Happy And Angry!

I had no idea tea was so popular in Turkey. It turns out that most of it is domestically produced near the Black Sea, and that tea-drinking has only been a common habit for a few decades, since the 1960s, basically. Turkey is no longer a country with particularly high coffee consumption.

coffee makes me Happy And Angry!

Do it for Johnny. (Was that even in the book? I don't remember.)


'happy & angry' is Ralph Wiggum

Ah! That sounds familiar. But I meant "Do it for Johnny." I didn't know if that was just in the movie, or if it was in the book, too. I read it circa 1981, which makes my remembering the Beatles-Elvis thing a little weird. I think it was because it bothered me at the time that Pony Boy didn't like the Beatles.

But I meant "Do it for Johnny."

doh! (Homer)

heh. ok, posting that GIF was maybe not the best idea i've ever had.

hope y'all like Matt Dylan !

but tea has a huge range of flavors: bitter, sweet, malty, spicy, herbal, floral, earthy, smokey - even without getting into the herbal/floral/spice/fruit blends.

I'd say there is a pretty good spread of flavors with well prepared coffee as well. I don't know if there are as many as tea, and I would say coffee flavors tend to be more subtle than tea (so it needs to be well prepared).

But most of those flavors you list, I can match to flavors in different beans and roasts.

I mean, I personally can't rattle off a list of coffee that has X taste, but I have had coffee that tasted that way.

I don't think coffee enjoys more subtle flavor variations than tea. It probably seems that way, since coffee as a rule has a stronger flavor, and hence any variations will be a priori subtle. But the range of variation in tea can be very subtle, too. It's just easier to point to radically different flavors than it is to drill down into that subtly within a more narrow range.

(Preparation makes a huge difference with either, though. No argument there. E.g., if all I can get for water is tap, I'll never make any tea but storebrand tagless bagged tea ($0.01/bag or less). On the rare occasions when I'm not only making coffee, but making good coffee instead of strong swill to stay awake or chase away a migraine, it's much the same.)

We will not speak of this again. ;)

Heh. Just trying to get in your good graces (even if briefly) to get my hands on your copy of Hilzoy's Freedom and Responsibility. At $70, it's a bit off my utilitarian indifference curve. Is your copy signed by the author? ;)

NomVide:

It probably seems that way, since coffee as a rule has a stronger flavor, and hence any variations will be a priori subtle.

Yeah, I'd agree on that.

"I'll never make any tea but storebrand tagless bagged tea"

I don't particularly care if it's tagless, but that's probably because I have a pair of scissors.

In my experience, (domestic) tagless tea tends to be cheaper in both price and quality, and the only sort of "tea" worth wasting on some of the tap/well water I've had to deal with over the years. O/w, I don't care about the tag one way or the other.

George Orwell (http://www.booksatoz.com/witsend/tea/orwell.htm) advocates MIL, while Douglas Adams (http://h2g2.com/approved_entry/A61345) gently suggests MIF. Make of this what you will.

It's a similar dynamic with beer for me. I like strong beer - not always dark, but very flavorful. For the most part, those beers are higher in alcohol, upwards of 10% ABV.

Beer goes up to 65% alcohol (no joke) but the ratings for that stuff do not look good.

Take a look at what coffee aroma consists off and you are likely to lose the desire. Most of the components would be labelled T+ and give a stink miles around if not for the very minute quantities. ;-)
No surprise that all attempts to produce an artificial coffee aroma have failed miserably (at least as far as smell/taste goes). It's several hundred (300+) essential components.

This tea-milk precedence question has actually served as a basis for a tremendous amount of dispute regarding statistical method:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1740-9713.2012.00620.x/pdf

and the only sort of "tea" worth wasting on some of the tap/well water I've had to deal with over the years

after a year on well water at home, i'm disgusted by the taste of the city water i get at work. the chlorine and PVC taste is just too overpowering. i refuse to make tea at work any more.

Berlin has some of the hardest water in the world (washing machine companies the world over use it to test how much their devices can stand) and I drink my tea here without sending it through an ion exchanger. It's not chlorinated though.
I survived a few days in Sevilla with tea made with tap water so highly chlorinated that I think the public swimming pools of my youth contained less. It may help that I prefer some of the cheapest tea sorts available around here and am not of a very refined taste.
Plastic additives are a different thing (better not say cup of tea) altogether though.

just for the record, i assume the PVC taste where i work comes from the building's plumbing. i don't think the town has anything to do with that.

i'm also assuming i can distinguish PVC from any of a zillion other things it could be :)

I'd assume the same. At least in the areas I know the public waterlines are not PVC (and not just because of the leaching problem). In most cases the problem is inside the buildings, i.e. the final stretch of line.

I eventually cracked and got a filtering pitcher for my tea water. I usually can make a filter last 6mo of hard wear, so while it's not quite as cheap as tap water, it's not like I'm paying bottled water prices either.

It's a similar dynamic with beer for me. I like strong beer - not always dark, but very flavorful. For the most part, those beers are higher in alcohol, upwards of 10% ABV.

My favorite beer in the world is 11% ABV. Best enjoyed slowly. My second favorite comes in at around 9.8%. Ditto. When I can't get either of those, there's always Victory V-Twelve, which is, as its name insinuates, 12%.

Yeah, I know there are stronger beers. Here is an 18% ABV beer that I would gladly try one of.

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Whatnot


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