Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pull up a chair..Can I make ye a cuppa tea?

A cozy evening in your favorite chair or curled up in a corner of the couch. A new book by your favorite author. Maybe a cookie...and yes, a lovely hot beverage. One of life's pleasures.

Some would say that the world is divided into tea drinkers and coffee drinkers.
Not sure where that leaves my sister-in-law who drinks neither...
But back to the coffee and tea.
Now at one time I drank both. Coffee was for wake up...tea was for pleasure. Liked them both..but their places in my life were different. Different, but good.
Then I lost my taste for coffee. It involved getting stuck at work for about 20 hours and drinking more coffee than might be considered humanly possible in order to stay alert.
I was alert for about a week.

Now I drink tea. Good tea, not those nasty, tasteless tea bags that are so common here in the U.S. Don't even get me started on that. Loose brewed tea is good, but I am not so much of a tea snob that a decent teabag will not do. I favor Barry's, an Irish brand. You can buy anything on Amazon...
But, of course, some take their tea much, much more seriously.
There is an article in the British newspaper, The Guardian, by one Henrietta Lovell “the founder of Rare Tea Company”.
In the article, she describes her buying trip to Funding, a remote, mountainous region of China.
“It is not the easiest way to buy tea. After a 12-hour flight from London to Hong Kong and a further three-hour hop to Xiamen, the drive to Mr Che's tea garden takes a further eight hours. But I am in search of bai hao yinzhen, the most highly prized type of white tea, and once the preserve of emperors...
At dawn the next day Mr Che and his pluckers set out across the farm to harvest buds. There is a tiny window at the start of spring when the new leaves are mature but still furled in needle-like buds. These "silver tips" are picked, just as they are about to open, by the most experienced pluckers.
...they sift through the buds and remove extraneous leaves or twigs. Then the silver tips are laid to dry in the soft afternoon sun on huge bamboo racks, positioned to catch the best light. As night falls the tea is brought in and carefully dried over wood fires. The fragrance is incredible."

Ok, I was tempted, it all sounds so lovely. I went to the 'Rare' site where this 'silver tip teas' and several other teas are for sale. The prices are in British pounds and my conversion skills not too great, but it did not seems terribly expensive. Well, not compared to caviar..or gold bullion. And I might have bought some except I read this line, at the bottom of the page of instructions for proper tea brewing.
“Milk and sugar? Milk and sugar will not enhance the flavour of any high quality teas. Rare Tea Company only sells the best leaf teas - and they do not need to be masked, sweetened or diluted.”

I would be willing to give my usual milk and sugar the boot for a try. Really I would...I think. Maybe it is just all a bit too precious for me. Maybe my tastes are still a bit too common...but I will stick with my Barry's for now.


  1. I, too, love a proper cup of tea, made in a proper teapot with loose leaves and hot water. A real pleasure (although I won't give up my morning coffee). I had a terrible time actually buying a teapot - every place I asked, I found that the staff didn't know the different between a teapot and a kettle.

    If you want something worth passing up the milk and sugar, try some of the jasmine flower teas. They come in tight little bundles that expand and open and burst into flower in the hot water. They are really lovely and the fragrance is worth the cost.

  2. They look a bit creepy though.... ;-)

  3. Thank you for stopping by J. Kaye's Book Blog and letting me know about the Amazon widget problem. I might have to delete it for now.

  4. no problem. happily someone else figured out the problem so I could fix I am just passing it along.
    and always nice to go visiting some nice blogs!

  5. I'm one of those no Coffee or Tea people also. My Mum drinks weak black tea, and has terrible trouble ordering it in cafes - they like to put the jug of milk inside the tea cup to carry it, even when black tea has been ordered and no milk should be needed!

  6. maybe it is a 'black' tea confusion. see, to me black coffee is no milk where as black tea is a kind of tea...white tea, green tea, black tea.
    so i have black tea...with milk.

    not it might be different 'down under'

  7. Thanks for the fun and entertaining post! I've never been a coffee drinker - used to work at one of the earlier espresso bars near Seattle, and was just disgusted by the conditions (lets just say they are a lot cleaner and healthier now!). That said, I do enjoy a nice tea, preferring sweet and savory over bitter. :)

    I'll have to experiment a bit after reading your post. . .


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  9. They say if you saw most restaurant would eat at home.
    Guess that goes for coffee too.

  10. Cute post! I am a coffee-holic, as is my father-in-law. (My husband doesn't drink coffee or any caffeine.) Unlike the f-i-l, though, I don't drink it black, I load it up with milk and some sugar. And no matter how many times I have had coffee with my f-i-l, he is always astonished that I would ruin my coffee by adding such extraneous stuff!

  11. I could drink tea black...and I could drink coffee black...if there were no choice. But I draw the line at sugar. There must be some sugar.
    But both is better!

    In Fact, I best make some tea now...with milk and sugar.

  12. You are entirely right. I shouldn't be so bossy. Just because I don't like milk and sugar in my tea doesn't mean I should go about telling everyone else what they should like. I'm going to update the website now and remove that bit.

    All the best,
    Henrietta Lovell.

  13. I wouldn't say it is bossy...just strongly opinionated maybe.
    I just can't help my love of a bit of sugar.


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