I've come full circle on my attitude to tea. Until relatively recently I was a hardened coffee fiend, addicted to the taste, smell, sensation and caffeine rush of a very strong cup of coffee. While I still love that naughty bean and the beverages that can be concocted, it has of late given way to a resurgent appreciation of the infusion of hot water with the cheeky leaf. Ultimately I grew weary of the caffeine lows brought on by hardened coffee drinking: it giveth, but it taketh away. Tea, on the other hand, is both refreshing and invigorating and is now the drink of choice at breakfast time in the Sane household (for Mrs Sane it always was), while coffee is reserved for weekday mornings to kickstart the working day.
The process of making tea, of course, is very important. It must be made correctly to be properly enjoyed. No less a figure than George Orwell wrote an authoritative article on the correct process back in 1946, which was in turn the subject of an article by The Hitch this week. This stuff matters. I wouldn't necessarily agree with every one of Orwell's points: I take one brown sugar in mine, for example, and never bother to warm the pot beforehand (what's the point, when it's about to be filled to the top with boiling water anyway? You don't pre-heat the bath tub before you fill it with hot water do you?) and I drink from a decent sized mug, not fine China cups. But on the basic principles I agree: tea should be strong, made in a pot and the milk (not too much) should be added last. These are the basic tenets of good tea-making.
Tea: it's too important to be left to amateurs.