Dear Dr. Boli: The preparation instructions for the tea I just bought say to use one teaspoon for each cup and “one for the pot.” Why does the pot want some? Is there something about my teapot I don’t know? —Sincerely, A Worried Young Man.
Dear Sir: The traditional advice to include “one for the pot” when measuring out the tea leaves has a long history; but Dr. Boli, who is very serious about his tea, is inclined to regard it as superstitious nonsense. Teapots are inanimate objects, and have no needs or desires of their own. Teacups, on the other hand, are greedy and competitive by nature, so it is quite proper and necessary to measure out precisely the same amount of tea per cup in order to avert unseemly discord among the cups.
It is not Dr. Boli’s place to impugn the motives of your tea supplier, but he might nevertheless point out that your supplier has a vested interest in maintaining his customers’ belief in a superstition that compels them to waste a teaspoon of tea with every pot they brew. Class-action lawsuits have been filed for less.