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    CHICCHANTAL   23,063
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The best drink of the day

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Sunday, April 07, 2013

When I started on SparkPeople, one of the things that surprised me was how much talk there was of tea. I was surprised because this is an American site, and in my yoof, Americans were well known - and pitied, in the UK at least - for not drinking much tea. This was when compared with the Brits, who drank very large quantities, up to a gallon a day.

Times have clearly changed. Brits now drink about equal quantities of tea and coffee, I think, perhaps largely due to the rediscovery of coffee that doesn't come in our of a jar in instant granules, tasting of fish. I get the impression American tea-drinking is more varied than British tea-drinking, on average. For example, someone had to explain to me exactly what 'chai' is. I'll pass, thanks, and I'm glad I found out about it without tasting it.

I personally didn't drink tea for many years: not until I discovered that I like the actual tea, it's milk and sugar in it that I can't stand. This is the only known instance of my voluntarily choosing the healthy option over the one with more calories. The same goes for coffee, which I didn't drink between the ages of six and 30. If obliged to, I can drink coffee with milk in it but just you keep the cow-juice away from my tea, or else. Interestingly, if I'm feeling ill, low, tired, grumpy or in fact entirely my usual self, it's tea I go for, not coffee.

So on Friday, I was in the John Lewis department store on Oxford Street pretending to be posher than I am (necessary if I'm shopping in John Lewis') and it was that time in the afternoon and I needed to rest my sore foot, so I headed for the (self-service) cafe and asked for Earl Grey tea, which tends to be my tea of choice. I'll be honest, I'll drink builders' brew if necessary, but if there's Earl G available, usually it's that.

I couldn't find a tray but I was concentrating on the main attraction, that of getting myself outside a cup of hot tea, and decided to wing it. Anyway, when I got to the counter to order the lady behind the counter called a colleague to bring me a tray.

Leaning over the counter, she said to me, confidentially: 'You'll need a tray because WE serve our tea in POTS.'

Yep. So do I.

Ah, bless. Clearly the fact that John Lewis' caff serves its tea in pots is important to at least one of its staff. Rather touching, I thought.

Of course I obviously look like the sort of person who only has teabags at home which is a bit disappointing because I have two teapots and one of them still has a lid as well.

And I've got loads of teabags for when I can't be bothered which is usually, so the lady was mostly right.
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FANGFACEKITTY 4/19/2013 3:15AM

    An American here who loves her tea! Milk in tea is just wrong...except for a nice hot (or iced) chai tea latte. Truly, it is not to be missed. Although I take mine with vanilla soy milk instead of the nasty crap from cows. Last year I weaned myself away from sugar substitutes and now take my tea either plain or with a minimal amount of real sugar, depending on the variety.

I've been experimenting with making my own herbal teas, and I'm trying to come up with a chai blend I like.

I don't use a teapot though. Loose teas I put into tea bags myself and steep directly in the cup.

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TREE57 4/15/2013 12:08PM

    Okay, I have to get in my say.....I'm a coffee in the morning and drink own brew of iced tea. I cannot tell the complete recipe, but suffice it to say, it is DE-LISH! Chamomile and a black tea with a touch of stevia.....on a hot Texas day. OH YEAH!

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JOANNEHOLL1 4/14/2013 3:01PM

    I was looking for a recipe & just happened on this site of Brits! Reading your talk of teas made me thirsty. So, I made a large cup of Earl Grey Supreme. I made 2 cups with boiling water. I got a packaged collection for Christmas from grandson who lives in New York. It came in a small gray/gold can with the name "Harney & Sons" (20 Sachets in a classic collection). There were others in the collection. I liked the English Breakfast Tea and there was a can of Christmas Supreme (Spicy) and Earl Grey White (What does the white mean?)

When my Mom & Dad retired to Florida they made Sun Tea each day putting black tea in a glass jar & setting it in the sun.. It was very good. . . . different from the boiling water method. We drank a lot of tea when I was a girl as our well water had an iron taste to it.

I have a Cuisinart coffee maker & grind coffee beans fresh to make my 6 a.m. wake up brew. I make a full pot and then make iced cold coffee Lattes with the left-over coffee. I add ice, vanilla (or chocolate) milk and sweetener (sugar or splenda). Makes a great drink with low calories. Very good with left over tea also! emoticon

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CJYOUCANDOIT 4/11/2013 9:37AM

    I have coffee in the morning with milk and sweetener. Love tea at other times of the day. I used to have milk and sugar in my tea when I was young. My mom had some friends from Ireland and they would come to visit and the teapot would be filled and emptied several times before they left. I have 2 teapots and we use them when more than one is having tea. We have recently made friends with a family from Iraq and their tradition is to start with tea and end with coffee. The tea they use is chai but they drink it black. We are looking for a place to buy tea leaves to make tea. There is a store down town called Infiniteas. I plan on checking them out. Thanks for the memories of my mother and her friends. They were good times.
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MADAMES 4/10/2013 8:03PM

    I think my mother prevented my liking hot tea...she served it to me whenever I had an upset stomach as a child...therefore I associate hot tea with feeling queasy. I have friends who LOVE tea, and so I have tried repeatedly to develop a taste for it. Once a year I will take DD, DM and my two grands out for a formal tea. The occasion is always fun. Left to my own tastes, I always choose coffee...three cups every morning. I do have a proper china tea pot with matching cups and saucers; after all, I am a grandmother of little girls who love tea parties!

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KALEWINE 4/10/2013 12:51PM

    I personally don't care for tea, but I have numerous friends who love tea.

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THE_SHAKESHAFT 4/10/2013 1:18AM

    I'm on green tea and black coffee for a couple of days for my fasts. Looking forward to a nice milky cup on Friday morning though :)

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LAURIETAIT 4/9/2013 6:38PM

    My Icelandic grandparents affected my beverage choices early in life. It always seemed to be coffee time when I was young and we all aspired to be old enough (10) to drink coffee. My Dad used to say it was the kind of coffee that you could stand a spoon up in. In my mispent youth (20-50) I didn't drink much tea or coffee. But now in "golden years" I've re-discovered coffee and drink all kinds of specialty teas (chai included) as well as the basic garden variety ones. I side with all the caffeholics. Who need decaf???

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IAMTOLOSE 4/9/2013 12:03PM

    Love your post. I begin my day with hot coffee and end it with hot tea. In the between times, either goes. Love them both and prefer them without anything added.

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REGILIEH 4/9/2013 12:32AM

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ILIKETOZUMBA 4/9/2013 12:09AM

    LOL. We are definitely tea opposites! Earl Grey is one of my least favorites, and I VASTLY prefer tea with milk and sugar! I always thought I hated tea until I had some in London that was served with milk and sugar and I realized whoa, this is actually really tasty now that it doesn't taste so strongly of tea! :) I can drink tea black nowadays, but I had to get started with milk and sugar and it'll always taste best that way to me. Still can't stand coffee no matter what, though, but I do appreciate a slight hint of coffee flavor in certain chocolatey ice creams. But that's my limit.

Also, I know it sounds weird, but you really are missing out if you haven't tried chai! It's soooooooooo good. I used to get chocolate chai from the little student-run coffee shop in college and it was amazing!

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JUNEAU2010 4/8/2013 9:25PM

    I like both tea and coffee, but I really like diet Pepsi. In all cases, I see no reason for caffeine free. What is the point?! Earl Grey is at the top of my tea list.

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KARENLEIGH32 4/8/2013 8:21PM

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STAREYES723 4/8/2013 7:18PM

    I love coffee, However, I also have to have my tea. I even have my little grandkids drinking a cup of hot tea with me in the morning. If we are ill, I add a little lemon and honey and they like it that way also.

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ALDEBARANIAN 4/8/2013 6:04PM

    Alas, the Brits seem to have a bit of a misperception about Americans and tea. Lots of us love our tea. We like all kinds of tea. We especially get a bang out of our TNT. emoticon

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LADYKATHLEEN5 4/8/2013 5:34PM

  You post very interesting Blogs. I'm curious how you have the time to write such long blogs and write them so often.

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GABY1948 4/8/2013 5:32PM

    I mostly drink water all day...second choice is tea...mostly black tea (don't know what kind, I'm not fussy) then green tea and if nothing else is available, coffee...but only black! I love your blogs...they are SO descriptive it's like going to a movie with no video going! Have a GREAT week!

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1MANKNEY 4/8/2013 3:44PM

    This was an interesting post. There seem to be as many ways to prepare tea as there are people!
My normal drink is hot chocolate! I am a hopeless chocolaholic! I do not drink tea or coffee with the exception of herbal tea with no actual tea in it. Then I prefer the Orange and Spice tea and make it in a small pot so I actually have two cups to drink.

I prefer to drink hot lemonade made with real lemons and lemon peal and some minced fresh ginger. I also use the pot for that as It makes two cups and if I am going to the trouble of making tea from scratch, it better work out to be two cups worth!
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BKNOCK 4/8/2013 2:28PM

    I was raised on tea and still drink it to this day! I now drink coffee first thing in the morning but after work I love my cup of tea. I prefer Darjeeling!

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SHIMMYSHAKER 4/8/2013 12:20PM

    I LOVE tea; green is my favorite, and I love the standard unsweetened iced tea. I don't mind vanilla chai, though I will usually make it only once in awhile.

I love my "crankypants" tea, which is raspberry with lemon and honey. It's good for cramps and bloating.

With THAT being said, aside from vanilla chai and my crankypants tea, I cannot add milk or sugar to my tea...eugh. I've had the misfortune of accidentally buying sweet tea at McDonald's once, and oh my, NEVER again. No milk, but a full bag of sugar (or so it seemed), to be sure!
I will add honey to green tea is my throat is sore, or to a fruit-type tea; but I just can't go beyond that, ever.

I'm also not a coffee person, it makes my stomach oogy. There's a company here called Bolthouse Farms, and they specialize in baby-cut carrots and beverages, mostly fruit/veggies juices. They also have a couple of tea, coffee, and protein drinks. I have to say, I do favor their Mocha Cappuccino...guilty...!!!

..
.otherwise...tea fan, through and through. :-)

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LINDAKAY228 4/8/2013 11:16AM

    I don't think I've ever had the tea in a pot, and have grown up with tea bags. I have never liked milk in my tea, and my mother never did either. It wasn't until I was grown that I knew people actually put milk in tea LOL. Sugar, or sugar substitute has always been in my tea though. Americans also drink lots and lots of iced tea. I don't as much but used to, and my grown daughters go through a lot of it. Some people make sun tea, which I've done in the past too. They take a gallon jar and put tea bags in it and put it in the warm sun for several hours to brew it. Very good too and tastes a little different than when brewed with hot water inside. As you may have heard too, a big thing that I hear more and more about is sweet tea, with a lot of sugar in it. I personally like a little sugar or sweetener, but not very much so sweet tea has never interested me. I drink a little coffee in the morning too, usually one cup, and then green tea also. Its interesting to learn about what people in different areas do. Not just different countries, but even different area of the the USA for example things vary widely. And I love hearing what my friends in other countries also do. Thanks for sharing the information.

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DESERTJULZ 4/8/2013 10:58AM

    I definitely prefer a tea pot to tea bags. I've happily discovered that loose tea is typically much better quality than the powder they stuff into bags.

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KLONG8 4/8/2013 10:48AM

    I've never developed a taste for tea or coffee. Love the coffee aroma however. Tea would be my choice if pushed. But I need to work on it because I know I'm missing out.

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LEANMEAN2 4/8/2013 10:18AM

    I like both tea and coffee. My husband will not drink tea but we both need our coffee first thing in the morning.
When I was a kid, my mother made tea (with milk and sugar) for us. The coffee she made was horrible so I didn't drink coffee until I was married and left home.
Currently I drink a blend of green tea and white tea which is supposed more healthy even than regular tea.
It is amazing to check out the varieties of tea that are offered in a USA grocery store.

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WATERDIAMONDS 4/8/2013 8:29AM

    Love tea, hate coffee (although I do like its aroma while brewing). Take my tea straight, thank you, and must have at least a cup daily, even when the temp here is over 100 degrees F.

Also have lovely teapot which I consider essential to the process.

In fact, my afternoon tea break is vital to my mental health and a part of my weight-loss success because I use the time to recharge/gear up before dinner. It gives me the opportunity to remember my priorities so that my evening meal is healthy and moderate enough to contribute to my goals.

What a nicely written tribute to an important tool for health!
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PAHOOT 4/8/2013 7:51AM

    I, too, like my tea straight. Coffee needs milk and is my brew of choice but when I'm ill, I want the tea! Of course, being an American, I always thought the way to brew it was to throw a tea bag in a cup, dump in hot water, walk away for a few minutes and then pull the bag out and drink the tea. I won't even go into making it in the microwave. My dear British friend was horrified by all this and finally felt confident enough to tell me I needed to have a teapot to "properly" prepare the tea. So, as we would meet up at different locales throughout the world, I'd have my little teapot. Last summer I visited her at home and was quite shocked to see her plop the teabag into the cup. When I confronted her with obvious breach of tea etiquette, she just said the doctor had her down to one cup a day and she wasn't going to use a pot for that. WHAT??????????? Now I have all these little teapots....

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NEW-CAZ 4/8/2013 3:01AM

    Love a cuppa when I get up but confess it's M&S strong one cup teabags.
Then I'm on water for the day.



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MARYJEANSL 4/8/2013 12:09AM

  I am a big tea drinker. However, I am quite fond of milk (well, cream is even nicer) in my tea. I picked up the habit while living in Canada years ago. I have never liked coffee since the time I was about five and my father, who drank his coffee very strong and black, let me taste his. That was it. I still hate coffee, even though a fair number of years have passed since then.

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ELLDOCKE 4/7/2013 11:17PM

    I have my pot for the morning Earl Grey, set it out the night before. And, yes, I use a teabag so that I don't have to measure before my eyes are fully open. I have found a lovely steeper - just a wire net that lets me pour my boiling water over the tea bag. As for boiling water before eyes are fully opened, my electric kettle does a lovely job.
My sister is so careful to brew the tea just right. I admit, I look forward to that pot of tea at her house.
The sugar and milk debate - I am lactose intolerant. I get my calcium first thing with 8 oz of Almond milk set out for my pot of tea and my morning chocolate - agua caliente con chocolate. Makes it worth getting out of bed just to enjoy them both. emoticon

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CBRINKLEY401 4/7/2013 11:10PM

    Just an FYI about the tea bags. The first tea bags were hand sewn and made of silk. The loose tea was intended to be removed from the bag by the customers, but some found it easier to brew the tea while still enclosed in the porous bag. The tea in those early bags was identical to the loose leaf tea that is brewed in a pot, not the left-over broken and smaller pieces that couldn't be sold as loose leaf.
There were patents for tea bags as early as 1903! I didn't know they had been around that long. I heard about this on the radio just last week.

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MARMAERT 4/7/2013 10:37PM

    English Breakfast tea at breakfast for this gal! 30 minutes to steep ( yes, I use a bag) in a large mug and creamer and sugar ( no artificial stuff) and yummy! Earl or Lady Grey, OOlong for afternoons, herbal fruit flavors in warmer weather chilled over ice, and have gotten my 2 year old grandson hooked on it. "Hot tea, Mema?" and in the "go" cup ( the thermal mug). no coffee for me - never liked the taste! In fact, I think I will have a cuppa right now!

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IAMWINNING 4/7/2013 10:32PM

    coffee in the morning: straight, no creamer or sweetner. Except this morning I had two 12 oz cups of Constant Comment. I drink my tea (hot and cold) with nothing added. I was raised that way.

I love a cup of hot tea, but admit that I drink gallons of iced tea each week. : )

I have a ceramic tea pot, but alas, it hasn't been used in some time.....I'm too 'instant' for it.




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TREYONE 4/7/2013 10:24PM

  emoticon Great blog!!!

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FUNLOVEN 4/7/2013 9:51PM

    As a coffee drinker I will think of this blog with a smile whenever I have a cup of tea. Thanks for sharing emoticon

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TERMITEMOM 4/7/2013 9:45PM

    I do not drink tea (except herbal tea, but it is not really tea), but I really enjoyed reading your blog!

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JERICHO1991 4/7/2013 9:29PM

    My choice for tea is with .5 teaspoon of honey, possibly a little lemon juice mixed in also.

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ROSIET3 4/7/2013 8:44PM

    I always use tea pot, even at work I have a thermal coffee carafe which has NEVER had coffee in it. The essential oils from the coffee permeate the pot and forever after the tea would have a coffee aftertaste. BLECH I confess to using Tetley round tea bags, and though I am the only tea drinker, I drink sooooo much that I buy the 206 bag box. I do drink earl grey occasionally and find that I prefer it unadulterated (black), though my ordinary tea I take with skim milk. When I drink chai I do it up proper, well sort of (I do use a bag) with heated milk and sugar, it is a different kind of beverage, not really tea at all (to me). When I make my tea loose I like formosa oolong best. When the opportunity arises I buy the Midland Red bus tea.... TyPhoo. Earl Grey and/or any of the flavoured teas do not set well with me early in the day, they are for after 2:00 pm.
Me da was Irish and insisted that me mum who was from the Midlands could only make 'shamrock tea'. His derogatory term for tea with 'only three leaves in it', he would have had us stand up the spoon.
When out and about the only thing I insist upon is that they pour 'BOILING WATER OVER TEA' , It is terribly hard to get boiling water, and I fuss enough over that so I cannot fuss further over the tea bag or pot or lack thereof.
I am apalled when in the homes of my Irish born American cousins and they make tea dust in bags for two or three people in the cup of cold water and nuked in the microwave until nearly hot....funny when they are over home they drink it right. No wonder they mostly drink coffee. For some obscure reason Canadian tea bags are a LOT better than American ones. Ours are putatively "two cup bags" it says so on the box, and mostly come without the silly strings and tags unless you are buying a 'food service package' I cannot remember drinking tea from bags in the UK, so I don't know how they compare. There is a reason my nic is Rosie T, the three was added by spark, I guess there were two others. emoticon

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EABL81 4/7/2013 8:34PM

    I enjoy a nice pot of Earl Grey myself, but my favorite is Yunnan. I'm a bad American, obviously, since not only do I make my tea from leaves, but I hate coffee! Unfortunately for me, though, tea huts are completely unheard of here. So I do get jealous of your lovely walks, complete with a nice "cuppa" in route!

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OVERACTIVEELBOW 4/7/2013 8:28PM

    Thank you for your chat...
I have read some of the responses and decided to do my little share...
I tend to prefer a Spiced Herbal tea... so my guess is that it doesn't really qualify as "tea" since it does not have any actual tea leaves, or any other part of a real "tea" plant in the mix.
I prefer my tea straight, no milk, sugar, or lemon added to the tea steeped water.


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JANETRIS 4/7/2013 8:15PM

    I too love Earl....good stuff! I am also a fan of chai and herbal teas. I really like having a small cookie or biscuit with mine too.....really makes it an experience!

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SKIRNIR 4/7/2013 7:57PM

    Personally, I drink loose leaf oolong tea. My hubby drinks loose leaf black teas like pu-ehr, lapsong souchong, etc. (My spelling is atrocious.) In the US we order it through upton tea online. :)

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JGMARIE80 4/7/2013 7:35PM

  We love our coffee, and Iced Tea.

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DOVESEYES 4/7/2013 7:35PM

    I love the 'teapot' and the 'tea cosy' I knitted a beehive to cover mine ages ago.
Today though its the fast pace life we need and its the teabag we run to . Showing my age I can remember when loose tea was all we could get, and the paraphenalia -strainer- leaves holder for when you tipped them into the compost.

I have coffee when I go out as a treat, love it.

Thanks for this blog-- love to bring back memories of the 'old days'

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TEDYBEAR2838 4/7/2013 7:18PM

    Gosh, I put my teabags in my coffee pot and
let the water run through them just like my coffee :)

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SLIMLEAF 4/7/2013 6:55PM

    So go on then, tell your fellow Brits what 'chai' is!

And I put teabags in the teapot too.

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FIFIFRIZZLE 4/7/2013 6:43PM

    I love Earl Grey too, but I also like chai for its warming spiciness.
All teas are so much nicer without additions, except that sometimes adding a slice of root ginger to gumboot tea is almost as good as having a gingernut without the calories.
My parents are English and liked their tea so strong you could stand a spoon in it.
Had to smile at your comments about teabags, when in York we went to Betty's tearooms and thought all was most proper, until we opened the teapot and found teabags!
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COCK-ROBIN 4/7/2013 6:43PM

    Wonderful!

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A-DAY-AT-A-TIME 4/7/2013 6:33PM

  Harney & Sons cinnamon! emoticon

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PROVERBS31JULIA 4/7/2013 6:31PM

    I like both tea and coffee, instant, brewed, tea bags, loose tea, don't have ceramic pot yet (tea kettles yes)... Have gobs of boxes - oolong, green, black, Earl G, oh you can read about some of them from www.steepster.com or from www.52teas.com ... I've found over time that I'm actually allergic to pasteurized cow milk, althougj I do better with cream. If I want it thinner, I'll use almond or hemp mylk or coconut mylk. Years ago we did drink the Southern style sweetener Liptons black tea or Tetley tea... Later I broke up with white sugar so now I'll order tea unsweetened, and then spiff it up myself with stevia.

Symphony is ended and this talk is making me wish for a cuppa!

Later!

Cheers!

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NEEDBU66 4/7/2013 5:58PM

    amazingly enough, I crave tea usually after having read an English novel, or watched an English movie......

I found some green tea; loose, from somewhere off the internet- been drinking that most of the winter.

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