Monday, December 1, 2008

Cold water

As for about the 17,00th time in my life I filled the kettle
this morning in order to make a pot of tea, I was
suddenly troubled by this thought: What if my lifelong
practice of filling the kettle with cold water, as
instructed by my mother when I was still on the breast,
was not in fact a wise and sensible thing to do, as my
mother firmly believed, on the grounds that the
cold-water tap was less likely to have germs in it, but the
consequence of both her and I having been sucked in by
a cunningly disseminated myth, put about by the electric
power companies of the day as part of a master-plan to
ensure that, with kettles taking longer to boil, more
power would be used and company profits would thus be
all the greater? On such flimsy and deceptive edifices the
habits of a lifetime may well be built. Musing on the
follies of the ages, I drank my tea in a more reflective
spirit than usual.


Anonymous said...

It all depends. If the water is already hot in the pipe then use hot water for the jug (only enough for what you need mind you!). If you haven't been using the hot water then fill the jug from the cold tap, otherwise the standing heat losses as the water in the pipe cools down more than offsets the energy savings by starting with hot water.

Mary McCallum said...

No no no, anon. The cold water's something to do with germs, Denis is right. I remember filling up the kettle with WARM WATER in front of my best friend's English granny and she berated me for it. The warm water sitting there was not as healthy to drink as the cold water unheated. Pure and simple. I have not resiled from this in the 30 years since. Granny, needless to say, is long dead. said...

I do the same, and my odd and unsubstantiated belief is that it has something to do with the oxygen in the water that comes from starting out cold - I also insist on doing the same with is probably all hocus pocus... but I believe in it. The cup of tea will taste better - and you must not re-boil water - you have to start from scratch.

And now I must identify myself to the contrary thumb - not that you will know me - but that I have a stunning memory of the Hyatt Hotel top floor, cucumber sandwiches, a lot of older ladies (me too) and you, Denis, reciting (off by heart) the Four Quartets - extraordinary - and when I asked you "when" you had committed these to heart - you told me only a few years earlier - this is the Auckland Readers & Writers Festival around 2004 or 5 (can't recall exactly).

I'd studied these very poems at Victoria Uni (late-ish in life) and found your recital riveting and revealing - and recall you telling me that when you forgot a line, you simply ad-libbed - which added to my awe.

Cheers and have a nice cup of tea, why don't you.