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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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  • 123456789100
    I love tea.. most the time it is the tea dust you speak of being in American homes everywhere. My all-purpose 1oo bags at a time purchase is usually Lipton. But my favorite teas come from The Madame Tea tea shop in a garden in Sumner, WA. You can get just about anything you desire from her if you can pay her rates. My favorite is the herbal Ginger-Lime tea. Good enough without sugar or milk and best on days with the sniffles or that are cold outside. All her other teas are great too though. Still, I don't drink as much tea as I do espresso. I suppose that's a shame.
    1872 days ago
    Have to chuckle again over your sharings about tea and coffee. I'm an Earl Grey fan as well, but do take some whitening now and then (for my great grandmother's sake, of course, because she was a Devon lass). Thanks!!
    1872 days ago
    Being born in Australia, I like my tea. First thing in the morning, and at 4PM for Afternoon Tea, or "break", as they say here in the US. Not sure why, because I retired 3 years ago, so my life is a break right? Pfft!
    I have graduated from teapot and instant, to tea bags, unless there is someone else who will share the teapot of tea.
    My daughter who likes tea has moved to the other end of the US so I seldom make a pot full, but I have a small teapot as well as a large one.Other daughter is a Chai fan.
    I knitted a tea cozy ages ago, and it lives on the large pot. It is the only survivor of my cozies.
    Currently I use Red Rose tea, but I used Bushells in Oz.
    I can drink tea black if it's weak, but i don't like it strong either way, and I use milk and a dash of Stevia powder or honey.
    My Mum called it a pudding, because she drank it black. She would say I just needed to add an egg :)
    One of my sons loves Earl Grey, but I tend to think, perfume.
    My favorite herbal tea is Spearmint, or Chamomile with honey.
    Coffee is only good when fresh, but I have 1 or 2 cups a day. Tea, it's more like 4 cups.
    Tea is good for you. Note the age of the Queen Mum when she died. Lizzie is no teen either.
    My favorite part of shopping used to be when I could pop into Coles in Perth and have a pot of tea, and some fruit scones with jam and cream. It was cheap then, before it became a novelty.
    I need to connect with a Tea Party group! Well, I must get back to my large mug of tea :D
    1872 days ago
  • DR1939
    Most American use tea bags, aka tea dust, and people who live in the southern part of the US drink gallons of iced tea. My British friends drink as much coffee as tea with one exception. She drinks nothing but tea but she uses a tea bag. My husband and I drink coffee for breakfast, hot or iced tea (using loose black tea brewed in a china pot) for lunch depending on the weather, and wine for dinner.

    As for Chai, it is Indian tea and is made very differently from the stuff they sell powdered in cans or brewed incorrectly at most coffeehouses. Next time you have a curry have them serve you tea. It does have milk, preferably Buffalo Milk, and sugar, but it tastes very different from Earl Grey with milk and sugar. They also use use Black rather than Green tea. It contains some spices. Here's a link to a recipe
    1872 days ago

    Comment edited on: 4/7/2013 5:28:18 PM
  • LINDAM.1
    I do half and half . I do all kind of tea. Earl gray is one but the list is long.
    dried nettles
    green tea
    recently my husband Mike had a cold so
    Passion Flower
    and no more cold
    for his tummy

    Coffee to start the day
    Not very often but to treat myself I go to Peet's (I danced when the first one came to Oregon)
    They have tea and coffee, and will ship it the day they roast it. Right now vegies over special coffee

    1872 days ago
    Earl Grey is always my tea of choice. Love my little teapot, even though I usually use bagged tea. Definitely no milk. I have no interest in chai. I don't drink coffee. Strangely, I enjoy the smell of coffee but not the taste. Glad you had such a nice experience in John Lewis!
    1872 days ago
  • JACKIE542
    Love tea. I use tea bags too.. Always wanted a cute teapot to have tea on my porch. Should do that one day. emoticon
    1872 days ago
    Tea drinker here, and no milk or cream in mine, though I love my tea sweet so I do use sugar. I don't drink it often. For me, I have to be in a certain mood to drink tea. :-)
    1872 days ago
    Earl G is my favorite too!
    1872 days ago
  • DNRAE1
    I love both coffee and tea, without the milk and sugar bit! I brew a pot of tea every day and drink it all day (keep in a thermos so it stays very hot). Haven't used tea bags in years.....kind of a snob that way....LOLOLOL. Great blog again! You an always make me smile. Thank you!
    1872 days ago

    Comment edited on: 4/7/2013 5:03:14 PM
  • LINDAK25
    I grew up with a southern mama--they make great tea, horrible coffee. I love coffee when I make it myself, but seldom order coffee out (at least, here in the south) because it's too weak. My favorite tea is Stash Earl Grey. Most of the herbal stuff is, well, not my cup of tea. I used to have a cat that loved tea--had to watch that one.
    1872 days ago
  • ANYVAR54
    I love to drink tea, usually with bags. Mostly herbal, as a younger person with sugar and milk, but have quit that long ago. thanks for sharing.
    I do have a couple of tea pots. I will have to use next time I have my tea.

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1872 days ago
  • KIPPER15
    Green tea has become my staple when I feel down. A touch of lemon most of the time, possibly a small drip of honey if my throat is sore. I like a large group of herbal teas too...I use tea bags most of the time, but on cold winter days will brew a pot. My grandmother taught me how to brew loose leaf tea, but it is harder to find in my rural area. emoticon
    1872 days ago
    We drink coffee, but tea is a welcome break in our day. We like Earl Grey (my daughter's favorite and an oolong blend. emoticon
    1872 days ago
    LOL! You made me laugh out loud with that one. I'm married to an Englishman, and he likes his tea so strong that, if you left the spoon in it, it would disintegrate after a few minutes. Therefore, milk is always a requirement in our house. Earl Grey is like "drinking perfume" according to him. So good (Tetley) black tea is the order of the day in our house. But - like you, I can drink it much milder with no milk, but I still need that "touch" of sugar or honey to make it palatable to me. Hubby takes no sugar at all. Maybe I should just ignore his teapot and make one of my own with tea that I can drink without milk.
    1872 days ago
    I have a metal teapot, whose lid is attached to it. This is rather a shame, because having been bounced on the floor several times, the two are no longer the same shape, with the result that the lid doesn't fit and curls up at the sides! The tea within is rather common too, being Sainsburys red label! At least I don't take sugar. emoticon
    1872 days ago
    I guess I'm a little more adventurous. I love Chai but have no idea what it is or what is in it. Could be why I'm having to work so hard at being healthy! I do know I never think of it as tea--more of a creamy spiced hot beverage.

    I also have a teapot that sits in a metal cozy. And I make the full pot in the morning (with 4 tea bags). I usually get 2 hot cups before everything cools off, then the rest goes into a glass with ice and slices of lime.

    I have no clue what else to buy. My health food store has glass containers filled with many different teas and herbs like lavender. I don't know if they are medicinal, or just plain delicious.

    Is there a tea class out there for someone who wants to step up beyond tea bags?
    1872 days ago

    Comment edited on: 4/7/2013 3:52:06 PM
    Is it even possible to brew a quick pot of tea? I think that's how tea bags came to be; quicker and easier. You know how us Yanks are so impatient.
    I have several tea pots, and when in the UK, was taught the proper way to brew a pot. I even own tea cozys! Lovely stuff, tea. I do like Earl Grey, and Twinnings used to make a Formosa Oolong, which they sadly have discontinued.
    1872 days ago
  • PHOENIX1949
    Here in Texas, iced tea is a staple for many folks.
    1872 days ago
    Not a fan of tea or coffee---but find it interesting to have it in a pot---just how do they do that? LOL---I know, I am a dumb American!
    1872 days ago
    I really enjoyed reading this. I still brew loose tea. I can't start the day without Lapsang Souchong, which many people consider demonic and the equivalent of rubbing your face around in an ashtray.

    I think that in recent years it seems that the USA has become infatuated with brewing tea. In the shoppes I frequent the "tea" section has gone from a smallish group of tea-bags to many more options including many brand-names and lots of loose-leaf tea. Chai has become ubiquitous, but can be ignored.
    1872 days ago
    I am a tea drinker as well, and prefer it plain (also agree about the chai tea - I'll pass, thank you very much). Can't stand coffee - love the smell, just not the taste. There are quite a few of us around in the US.
    Hope you enjoyed your outing at John Lewis.

    1872 days ago
    Sounds delightful - I love having tea everyday particularly herbal teas. So enjoy!
    1872 days ago
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