A Matter of Manners

I’ve been told that if you slurp it you mix more oxygen into the tea to enhance the flavour. This is one place where you have to trade manners off against taste. Do we praise refined sippers for their ascetic prioritisation of appearance over pleasure, or blunt slurpers for their healthy disdain for pretense? I’m a slurper – in private – myself. Given that she’s using a teacup rather than a mug, and drinking at something like a garden party, Yoshika’s probably better off sticking her little finger out and sipping – unless she wants to stick her middle finger up at the Establishment!

(Having taken the tea into your mouth you’ve a choice: taste it at the front before shunting it to the back of your mouth, so that you get the lighter aspect of its taste followed by the bitter aspect, or attempt to hit all of your tongue with the tea at roughly the same time, so as to take both aspects at once.)

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33 responses to “A Matter of Manners

  1. This post is a prime example why I love this blog like no other.

    Anyhow, from my experience, the people I’ve drank tea with didn’t mind slurping as long as it isn’t exaggerated.

    I guess you could say the same about eating: Most people over here don’t exactly mind if you eat with your mouth open as long as the chewing isn’t overtly audible.

  2. This is why I’m kinda surprised that you haven’t checked out Allison and Lillia yet. Tea drinking is a running gag there, seriously. :P

    I prefer enjoying myself when I’m alone. But Keeping Up Appearances always seems to be the way to go outside, for better or worse. Granted, I’m not quite sure even at my best I can be polite about drinking tea. Too much effort. :3

  3. I think there’s just a cultural difference here that may have a practical cause. Like, maybe the English drink tea in settings where as the Japanese do it casually. I’m just guessing here.

    First time I’ve heard that mixing tea with air makes it taste better…somehow it doesn’t make any sense to me.

  4. Need to watch strike lolis tonite ^^;

  5. I slurp to annoy someone

  6. I’ve heard the oxygen thing, but only in reference to making tea, i.e., don’t boil the water because it kills all the oxygen. Sounds like a dubious justification for slurping to me ;)

    But ultimately… there may be different connotations to “manners” in a world where no one wears pants.

  7. I reckon mug vs teacup is the deciding factor, if someone hands me a mug then I assume they’re a fellow filthy hedonist and act accordingly. That’s nothing to do with the oxygen thing, which is new to me, and everything to do with convenience.

    Of course, real men eschew manners, enjoyment and convenience – dump a bunch of leaves in the kettle and down it.

  8. @blissmo: Are you sure it’s the slurping that annoys people?

  9. I’d never thought of the oxygen thing TBH – I will advise against pouring boiled water directly onto the bag/into the pot, and if you do use a bag, don’t squeeze it to within an inch of its life before lifting it out.

    There’s an issue of adding milk first when making tea, which I find quite bizarre. But then, I drink green tea rather than the brown stuff, so I never take milk anyway.

    And yeah, this is just the sort of post that makes this blog so special and entertaining. ^_^

  10. Being (probably) the only Asian here, I can relate to Yoshika, since we were raised to slurp our liquids. Of course, this usually only apply to soups and noodles, but I guess it’s Yoshika’s first encounter with tea, so that reaction is justified ;P

  11. tea tastes like balls caked in shit dipped in cum. *takes long drink from Double Gulp full of Mountain Dew*

    ….*dies*

  12. Like any boorish Yank I don’t drink tea I drink coffee so I don’t have to pay no stupid tax to George III. :P

    I ususally prefer to drink my beverages like coffee and tea lukewarm so I don’t have to slurp. Besides most ration beverages are cold any ways so it hardly makes a difference.

  13. I drink both regular and green tea and I love to slurp. It’s the only way the stuff is going down without burning my tongue anyway. This applies for instant noodles too; the alternative, lifting the noodles and placing them on a spoon to blow before placing it in one’s mouth, is troublesome and takes the ‘act of eating noodles’ out of your meal. :P

    Guess I’m a pretty unrefined tea drinker despite drinking loads of it. Hoping for more posts regarding the consumption of tea to level-up. :P

  14. @ Anonymous: Why, thank you! A tea post is always a good choice after something too serious. Your suggestion that moderate slurping’s okay seems to hint at some kind of Golden Mean approach to table manners.

    @ TheBigN: Really? I suppose I was probably put off that show by the plot holes and by my general habit of only watching a few anime which are currently airing. Tea commentary for me is a passive thing – I don’t seek the tea out, it comes to me. Typically male, I suppose.

    @ omo: Well, I’m only repeating what I’ve been told. The existence of tea ceremonies suggests to me that there are at least some settings in which tea is very formal in Japan, but perhaps the social use of tea by the British (English?) upper and middle class lays special emphasis on manners.

    Or maybe it’s because tea was originally introduced here by Charles II’s queen: having been brought in by a top-down process, it’s remained a class thing ever since. Mind you, few things exist for long in British life without picking up class connotations, however much we like to think we’ve escaped that.

    @ Danny Choo: Absolutely. Anime doesn’t have many tea-drinking garden parties, so it’s best not to miss those that do exist. (Wasn’t there one in the first season of Zero no Tsukaima?)

    @ blissmo: That’s it: fight the system!

    @ otou-san: Hmm. I’ve heard different advice, never to use water that’s boiled more than once, offered on the same grounds (oxygen). It does sound more like a slurper’s charter than real science, now I think about it more.

    As for the different manners of a world without trousers, the mind boggles. We’re approaching the territory of the comments on TheBigN’s last post, where I speculated that such a world would have trouser fetishists because wearing trousers would be unusual and weird.

    @ Baka-Raptor: Now now.

    @ concretebadger: I’ve heard the one about not squeezing the bag – though I have to wonder if that’s an artificial way to make life harder for the thrifty poor or a real taste consideration. Probably just my inherited socialist paranoia kicking in there, though. Adding milk first is definitely odd to my mind, though.

    I like the taste of green tea, but it’s something I only have when I’m eating out, rather than a daily beverage.

    @ Shin: I’ve never mastered the art of eating noodles, I must admit. I’m sure you’re right that Yoshika’s reaction is to be expected, if this is her first contact with occidental tea.

    @ 21stcenturydigitalboy: I didn’t know it was possible to troll tea posts Your sense of taste is a mystery to me.

    @ Crusader: I thought it was every loyal subject’s duty to happily pay taxes to the monarch, even if your country’s legal status has been going through a few centuries of dispute? As for ration beverages . . . I shudder to think.

    @ madeener: Regular and green? You’re a true tea polymath, or something. I know what you mean about the ‘act of eating noodles’, though – I’ve never mastered noodles, but there’re some types of food where the act of consumption is a key part of the whole experience. No point in a Sunday roast if you’re not eating it on a Sunday, after all.

    Hopefully I can provide more tea commentary in the future. Though there must be purely tea-focused blogs out there somewhere.

  15. I just want to go on the record here by stating that I hate tea.

    I hate coffee too.

    But I hate tea.

    I also hate beer.

    Do you want to know what I drink?

    WATER.

  16. @ 21stcenturydigitalboy: I didn’t know it was possible to troll tea posts Your sense of taste is a mystery to me.

    it is to me as well, because that *dies* thing wasn’t a joke. I’ve gotten like 4 hours of sleep in the last 2 days or so and I haven’t eaten yet, but the aforementioned ‘double gulp’ is on it’s refill, and I can actually FEEL the acids eating through my stomach. It’s… enthralling. Plus it’s like 90 degress and humid and musty in my room since there were like 5 sweaty dudes in here all night and while I have a window open, my room is a second-story isolated by it’s own stairway from which no air escapes.

    I’m. Fucking. Dead.

  17. NO! Haven’t eaten MUCH! I could live without eating that long!!!

  18. Like most Americans, I dislike coffee but pretend to like it to look more manly.

    Being a tea drinker mostly raised on greens and oddities, you could probably tell that I don’t live in a context where sipping is especially preferred to slurping. Most people I see in public could do either, and nobody’d bat an eye.

    There’s something to be said in favor of being a boorish American.

    As an aside, the Japanese tea ceremony is a bit too pretentious for my tastes. The Chinese tea ceremony is barely a ceremony at all–it’s all about the tea, not the process. Also, Japanese matcha tastes a bit too grassy, though their genmaicha is fantastic. And weird.

    Nor did I ever come to heart bergamot oil as many Englishmen do. I would say that I’m simply accustomed to gentler flavors in my tea, but I realize I also drink a daily dose of double-concentrated Lapsang Souchong.

  19. Now I’m wondering what you usually drink tea with, if at all. I followed what my parents did by adding evaporated milk as a sort of “creamer” to the tea, and I wonder if that’s uncommon (it seems somewhat common in Nigeria… or maybe just with my extended family). But it reminds me that I haven’t drunken tea like that in a while. Or even drank tea in a while. I should rectify that. :P

  20. Thank you Iknight, I now have a craving for tea in my diet.

  21. Slurper – but only amongst friends.

    And I don’t touch tea all that much, unless it’s in the form of Pearl Milk Tea/Bubble Tea/Boba. Ever tried it? Jasmine Green flavor – that’s my “cup of tea”.

  22. If it’s pearl tea then it’s Ceylon for me. Can’t stand milk or sweetener in greens.

  23. I’m Asian too, but I actually was never brought up to slurp or not to slurp my noodles or tea, heh.

    Although I do feel that slurping noodles makes the experience more enjoyable.

    However in tea’s case, I can’t really say. I don’t drink it enough to be able to comment on whether slurping brings out the flavor more.

  24. @ OGT: That’s just unhygienic. Things live in water, you know.

    @ 21stcenturydigitalboy: Ugh. Your room sounds like some kind of health hazard. Though going without food is probably good from a thrift point of view.

    @ Dorian Cornelius Jasper: Personally, I treat coffee as an anti-fatigue drug. I’d never claim to like the taste very much. Interesting that the Chinese tea ceremony should be more, for want of a better word, pragmatic.

    Oil of Bergamot really defines only Earl Grey, but I see what you mean about strong tastes. I’ve been known to deliberately let my tea go stewed when I want a kick out of it. As for Lapsang Souchong . . . I think I prefer sausages as a source of a smoky taste.

    @ TheBigN: Normally I add a small amount of (whole fat) milk to my tea, and I never add sugar. Rationally speaking, I can comprehend how you might develop a taste for evaporated milk in tea, but I can’t imagine liking it, personally.

    @ Dorne: The Tea Song is now playing in your head.

    @ Hoshi: If I remembered, I wouldn’t slurp unless I was among friends. Remembering is the challenge.

    Bubble tea? After wiki’ing it, it sounds oddly appetising, but I don’t think it’s common in the UK yet – I’d never heard of it until you brought it up. I’m sure it can be had somewhere in London, though.

    @ C.I.: Maybe I’ll have to go and cook some noodles in private and empirically try to decide whether slurping or not slurping produces more enjoyment for me.

  25. Slurping or non-slurping? Hm, i wouldn’t consider that an issue – but i might chalk this up as others have to my asian ethnicity.

    Now, as for adding cream and sugar? Absolutely criminal – just ruins the flavour of the tea.

  26. Interesting. I really haven’t ever tried that before, and I’m an avid tea drinker on my own time. I think some slurping is in my future. Heh! Very amusing post.

    ~Alexius

  27. Bergamot: Actually, I was referring to Earl Grey in particular.

    And if you must know, most bubble teas are really just milk tea with tapioca pearls–tasty though the end result may be. It’s very much a kid’s drink.

    The best milk tea I’ve ever had, though, is definitely Thai tea. It’s mildly spiced, creamy, and sweet with gentle notes of chocolate. You could possibly find it in an ethnic import store, or even a supermarket. And certainly, if you come across a restaurant specializing in food from Southeast Asia, you could order a glass.

    This can also be made into a bubble tea, if one so wished.

  28. @ vendredi: I agree on the sugar, and I suppose on the cream, though I think a small amount of milk’s fine. Cream’s too fatty for my taste.

    @ Alexius: Thank you! Good luck trying slurping – if nothing else, they say that a change is as good as a rest.

    @ Dorian Cornelius Jasper: Thai tea? Note taken.

  29. I just drink tea, actually. I don’t even know how slurping or stuff works. No additional flavorings for me, too. I just drink it.

  30. I don’t drink tea that often, especially since it contains more caffeine than coffee.

    Anyway, does this theory apply to coffee too? Or it’s only restricted to tea?

  31. @ Michael: I suppose you could say you drink tea ‘neat’? Trouble is, without devoting time and thought to your tea, does it have any value to you?

    @ double: I honestly don’t know if it applies to coffee, though I know the preparation varies wildly. I’d guess coffee isn’t affected by slurping, but then we don’t really know that tea is; either way, slurping’s more fun.

  32. Double> Most people don’t know tea has more caffeine than coffee. That’s because people use less tea leaves per cup of tea than their counterparts would coffee grinds per cup of coffee. Thus, tea always tastes weaker to them, never realizing that in comparison, it’s because they just super-concentrate their coffee.

    I merely felt the need to add this comment before somebody had the bright idea to try to refute your comment.

    Lordy I love tea comment threads.

  33. Since you like tea threads so much, you might – if you haven’t come across it yet – be interested in A Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down.

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