Josna Rege

266. Tea

In 2010s, Britain, Food, Inter/Transnational, Stories, travel, Words & phrases on April 23, 2014 at 8:08 pm

atoz [2014] - BANNER - 910

 Oh, the Yellow Rose of Texas
And the man from Laramie
Invited Davy Crockett to have a cup of tea.
The tea was so delicious they had another cup
And left poor Davy Crockett to do the washing up.

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PG_Tip450The_Strong_One_tcm28-293483Today I was going to write a piece on the ritual of tea drinking and what it means to me, the different kinds of tea my friends drink, the various ways in which different branches of my family drink tea, and the changes in Americans’ consumption of tea over the forty-plus years I’ve lived in the United States. But somehow I felt bored just thinking about it, and I’m never, ever bored. Perhaps it’s because I’m on the road, traveling from cousin to cousin, friend to friend, and drinking all the tea I could possibly want, in the best possible company. I don’t have the patience to withdraw long enough to write about it when this time is precious and I want to live it fully. This week I honestly don’t care whether I use the finest Darjeeling GFOP or cheap supermarket tea bags, as long as we can warm the cockles of our hearts drinking cup after cup together as we talk all through the day and late into the night.

Yorkshire_Gold2I will surely write some tea stories another time, about how they reacted in the 1970s when I asked for tea at American truck stops; why the milk-firsters and the tea-firsters will never agree (and which camp I belong to); what tea-drinking means to the British and to Indians; when I used to drink herbal teas religiously; and why the rituals built up around tea drinking have assumed such importance. But it has been another late night; for now I will get some shut-eye and tomorrow there will be more conversations over many more cups of tea.

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Chronological Table of Contents

atoz [2014] - BANNER - 910

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  1. Loved this! You said it all and with feeling. 🙂

  2. Yorkshire Gold is my fave! Nice post.

  3. Go ahead and enjoy your real tea! I drink tea with milk and don’t have a way of first one or the other. I guess because I came to that debate after way too many tea drinking years.

    • Kristin, I like to make a fuss, but when it comes down to it, I’m not proud. As long as it’s not as weak as dishwater–and as long it’s “non-decaffeinated” (as my husband puts it), I will drink it with pleasure.

  4. Nice Tea Tale. lots of flavor and a little bite

    • Thanks, Asghar. Sorry for the delay in responding. Gallows on tea have flowed under the brindge since then!

  5. I”m in a third category: no milk at all. Having migrated through several types of milk (sterilised, pasteurised, full cream, skimmed, powdered milk, coffeemate and soya milk) I can honestly say that black tea, like black coffee, is best.

    • Thanks for your comment. You’re in high-class company, since the tea sommeliers all drink their tea without milk. I would rather have black (as in milkless) tea than non-dairy creamer (eeeww), but otherwise I don’t drink black tea without milk unless I am sick, when I might have it with lemon and honey. I’m fussy about what kind of milk, though–it can’t be cream or half-and-half, it’s lovely when it’s pre-heated, as they often do in India, and I’ve got used to having skimmed in it, though I probably prefer a couple more percentage points of fat. Soy milk, almond milk in tea–no thanks!

  6. Aaaah! Tea! What would we do without it, Josna.

    • What indeed, Don! Tea smooths the rough edges of human interactions and of life in general. The ritual of drinking tea slows and calms us down, and imparts dignity to the chaotic rush of everyday life. And just as we start to flag mid-afternoon, a nice cup of tea gives us that little burst of energy that we need.

  7. Ah, yes, tea. Couldn’t get through a day without it.

  8. Ah! Tea played a huge part in my financial revival and left me a bit of a snob about tea 😦

    I’ve just started on the chapters of my life that began with tea with this post. As is normal with my many avatars, it will take forever to actually get to how tea changed my life but patience is a virtue, or so they tell me.. 🙂

    http://sloword.wordpress.com/2014/03/11/tea/

    • Thanks for the link; and don’t worry how long it takes. As long as tea is in the subject line you will have plenty of readers, myself included, following along. Also, I like the way you tell your stories, so there’s no rush to the finish line.

  9. oh – and as far as what goes in first… really this is how it goes.

    1. Put water on to boil, add crushed cardamoms, sugar and ginger
    2. When boiling add cold milk and bring to simmer
    3. Add tea leaves (nice black tea – Darjeeling green leaves do not work this way)
    4. Bring to a boil and turn off.
    5. Strain and serve with biscuits (not the breakfast corn biscuits, but the tea biscuit kind. Not cookies!) (This is non-U)

    If using Darjeeling tea, omit cardamoms and ginger from step 1. Bring water / milk mixture to a boil and turn off the heat. Add Darjeeling leaf tea, cover and let stand for 3-4 minutes. Strain and serve…etc. (This is definitely U)

    • Thanks! I have sugar in my tea when I drink it desi-style, and no sugar when I make it in a teapot, English-style. I too drink my Darjeeling with milk, and had a big argument with a connoisseur who thought that was the basest non-U practice.

      • There are many who’d agree with him.. Darjeeeling’s finest is U, drinking it with milk and sugar is non-U is what they say.

  10. Oh – about milk. Reminds me that I have yet to write the tale I’ve been promising everyone for months now. The good news is that I have started it. The bad news is it’s a longish story that will appear in multiple parts, so I can, uh… milk it and the first chapter doesn’t feel ready for publishing yet. 🙂

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