Extolling the Virtues of Tea
I love tea! I drink a lot of tea. No matter the season, my
day is hardly complete without a cup of tea. Tea has been a life saver for me
over the last few weeks as we experienced the nerve-wracking weather effects of
the polar vortex in the US. The calming effects of a nice hot cup of tea
helped me through many frigid days and nights.
Some people swear by coffee but I have never really developed a taste for it and for me tea is my beverage of choice. It seems that I am in good company. Tea is the most frequently consumed beverage in the world, second only to water. In the US alone, it is a $6.5 billion industry.
For all its virtues, tea was actually discovered by accident. As the story goes, in 2737 BC, Emperor Shen Nung of China made a proclamation that all water in the kingdom should be boiled before drinking. While he was on one of his travels, the emperor stopped to take a rest. His servants boiled water for the emperor to drink and a few dry leaves fell into the boiling water. The emperor liked the taste and thus, tea drinking became a part of Chinese life. And it continues today, as it is all over the world from Japan to the UK, where tea drinking is a social activity and ‘Polly puts the kettle on, so we can have tea‘ several times a day.
Teas from Darjeeling in India to Kericho in Kenya mostly come from a plant called Camellia Sinensis. There are also those that are mixed with other ingredients. Black tea remains the most commonly consumed form of tea. Other teas are oolong teas, green teas, rooibos teas and white tea which is the purest form of tea. Let’s not forget the herbal teas with their healing properties. From the peppermint tea which alleviates digestion discomfort to the ginger tea which prevents nausea.
Teas also come in various brands. One of my favorites is PG Tips, which I like to call the monkey tea because the commercials in the UK have always been brought to us by the cutest chimpanzees. I also like The Republic of Tea, Tea Forte, Whittards, Tetley, Tazo, Celestial Seasonings and Twinnings. As a bonafide tea aficionado, I am always on the hunt to discover new brands of tea, especially when I am traveling. My latest discovery was in Niagara Falls last year when I stumbled on the Higgins & Burke line of teas. Even the name sounds so distinguished and the taste is absolutely divine. Like most teas.
While tea is mostly drunk, people have come up with all sorts of therapeutic uses for tea and tea bags. They include drying poison ivy rash, eliminating foot odor, tenderizing tough meat (apparently you soak it in black tea and magic happens), cleaning wood furniture and floors, to name a few.
I have always been used to drinking my tea hot. So imagine my surprise when I moved to the US over a decade ago and discovered that iced tea is a staple drink. Quel horreur! ‘What is the point of tea if it is not hot?’ I would ask myself over and over again. With time, I warmed up to the notion of iced tea and now I can tolerate the green iced tea from Panera and the sweet tea at Chick-Fil-A. I never serve iced tea at home though. Time was when I would always have my tea with lots of milk and a little bit of sugar. As I have grown older, I have developed more of a taste for tea flavored with fruit juices. So life has me drinking ginger and peach tea flavored with passion fruit juice or peppermint tea flavored with mango juice.
If you like the design of the Remi Foundation
and Jola Naibi
websites, tea has a lot to do with it. Let me explain. When the time came for me to set up a website for Remi Foundation, I asked for advice from those who had been on that road before. Someone wisely suggested that I put a listing on Craigslist which I did. It seemed harmless enough. I was not prepared for the tons of expressions of interest that I would receive. Scratching my head and sighing heavily, I had to come up with a practical way to select someone and then I stumbled on the name Teakettica and I was sold. Anyone who likes tea enough to name their company after it, has to know what they are doing. I hired Jane at Teakettica
to design the website for Remi Foundation. I was not disappointed. She did a great job. When the time came for me to take Jola Naibi to the next level, I hired her again and she did an equally brilliant job. Super-efficient, knowledgeable and very friendly, I wholeheartedly recommend Jane to anyone who needs design services. Did I mention that she also likes tea?
Fellow tea lovers and aficionados, here is some global tea etiquette for you, courtesy of our friends at Travel and Leisure
In Japan, while it is not offensive to add milk and sugar to tea, you should first taste it in its purest form before doing so.
In the UK, after stirring, place your spoon on the saucer behind the cup, its handle pointing the same way as the cup’s. I’ll be honest and say that I prefer my tea in large mugs. More sips, less juggling of tea cup and saucer. I like to keep life simple
In Argentina, don’t use the straw (called the bombilla) to stir maté – the leaves floating on top should stay dry
In Morocco, when drinking tea with a shopkeeper, never talk about prices – or business of any kind – until the tea glasses are emptied
In China, express your thanks to your server by tapping your index and middle fingers lightly on the table twice
In India, it is considered polite to decline an offer for tea the first time. Accept only after letting your host insist.
To show you the lengths that some of our tea loving friends are willing to go to get their tea, take a look at the photo below of a quaint little tea house in China.
|Tea House in Huashan. Photo courtesy of imgur.com
Then click here
to see the journey that takes you there. Now I love tea, but I am terrified of heights. So, I’ll be sipping my tea on solid ground. Thank you very much!