And now for something completely different! Inspired by the ladies over at The High Tea Cast, I have decided to take a little tea break today on Rarely Wears Lipstick. The British are well known for their obsession with tea but, since the arrival of a multitude of coffee chains on our high streets, we are fast becoming a nation of coffee lovers. However, there are still some of us who would prefer a good cup of tea and, when I say that, I do mean good. Not the classic builder’s brew with a bag of Tetley or PG Tips left in the mug for far too long before adding a splash of milk to produce an orangey colour. Not the classic milk-and-two-sugars of grandma’s house. Not any one of the 62 cups of tea I made in April 1984 as part of Brownie Guide Tea-Making Fortnight*. No, I mean beautiful leaves in various colours (black, green, white or red) with subtle flavours that refresh. Ideally made in a pot, but only so that you can go back for more. Something you can savour.
In recent years I have discovered the joy of good Darjeeling, Earl Grey, green tea, white tea and Rooibos. There’s a whole world of tea out there that most people are unaware of due to the minimal selection of the stuff in most supermarkets. A favourite of mine is black teas with added flavour, which are much better than nasty herbal infusions which contain no actual tea – these taste as good as they smell! You can get quite a few types in Sweden (and at Ikea), and I am still baffled as to why you can’t buy Lipton Peach Mango in UK shops. It is possible to get good tea in, but how do you know what you like unless you’ve tried it? That’s where specialist tea shops come in. A friend took me to the Camden Parkway Yumchaa a few years ago and I never looked back. They sell a variety of different loose leaf teas online as well as in their shops, but I’d recommend visiting them in person to smell the leaves before you choose. It’s really quite special, and you can try a flavour before you buy a packet.
I’m not a purist who demands that tea must be loose leaf and brewed in a warmed pot, but I do enjoy the rituals that come with unbagged tea. I love old tea pots and worn mismatched crockery. I have yet to find an afternoon tea I enjoyed more than those offered by Liberty, but Drink Shop & Do definitely won me over with their vast collection of cups and saucers that could have come straight out of my gran’s kitchen cupboard. I think that’s where tea wins for me – it gives me a break from all the racing around. Good coffee is enjoyable too, but I mainly use it to give me a boost to continue with my day, rather something to be savoured in its own right. For some reason, tea gives me a break with some time to think which is very often just what I need these days.
*Yes, I’m that old and, yes, that’s what Brownies did back then.