Thursday, August 09, 2012

That's my (travelling) cup of tea

Call me strange (plenty have in the past), but until the age of twenty-five, I never drank tea or coffee. And I still don't drink coffee to this day. But the tea - well, the tea is all about travelling.

I lived in Japan for two years. Sure, you can live in Japan and ignore some of the traditions, but I didn't manage to ignore too many, and one that really got a strong grip on me is their love of tea - especially green tea.

I know a lot of people think green tea is bitter and horrid and I confess that I used to share this opinion. Now I know that it's just something that takes quite a lot of getting used to. And this is how you do it: when I lived in Osaka, I was lucky enough to learn about a group of volunteer Japanese housewives who were trained to teach Japanese to foreigners on a volunteer basis. These women were amazing - smart, generous, patient. They also loved to provide us with typical Japanese morning teas during the Japanese lessons we attended with them each week. Of course, this always included green tea. If you wanted something to drink, there was no other option. Most times, your teacher - we were paired up to learn one-to-one - would pour the tea for you so to refuse would have been incredibly impolite. And voilĂ  - after a few months, I found myself enjoying green tea.

Green tea in Japan by shirokazan
And then I moved on. Next lengthy stop, Slovakia. No green tea here, but not too much black tea either - what I discovered (and became rather attached to) here was fruit teas. My best friend in Slovakia would have me over for afternoon tea and brew up a delightful pot of fruit tea with lemon and sugar and it was divine. I soon became addicted to the various local brands of fruit tea I could buy at my supermarket, and in particularly a kind of cherry tea from Poprad (if you're in Slovakia and you see some, buy me a few boxes!). To this day, when Slovak friends come to visit, I insist they bring Slovak tea with them; I'm all out at the moment but have a reasonable substitute in fruit teas from Germany. The Aussie stuff really is a poor cousin to the European fruit teas I love.

Now that I live back in Australia, I've finally become somewhat socially acceptable when people ask "Would you like a cuppa?", a greeting practically more common than "Hello" when you turn up at an Australian's home. I can handle black tea now, though I do try to scope out people's cupboards and see if it's worth asking for something more exotic. You still won't see me drink a cup of coffee, but perhaps my travels need to take me somewhere like Colombia before I'm convinced about that.

What's your cup of tea?


6 comments:

  1. Ach...the old Rhubarb Sahne tee in Germany!!! How can something SO good, be so hard to find here!! Unfortunately for most of my friends who have no appreciation for the finer teas in life, there are no teabags in my cupboard!! I nly have loose teas: lemongrass, rose, jasmine oolong, and a few strange mixes that I enjoy. The tea shops in Germany are something to be admired. I love the whole tea drinking ritual with a nice teapot and cups, teabags are so dull!!

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    1. Oh you're dead right about the nice teapot deal, except that I'm a bit lazy ... and very true, Germans do tea right too.

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  2. Those fruit teas sound delicious!

    I really enjoy Spearole - it's a blend of green tea, olive lead, spearmint oil, grape skins and grape oil. Sounds weird but tastes really refreshing! Other than that I'm a strong dilmah with milk kinda gal ;)

    Perhaps it's a sign of us getting set in our ways but our habit once the kids are in bed is to boil the kettle and make a cup of tea - the night doesn't really seem complete without it. And one first thing in the morning - can't do coffee first thing!

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    1. That *does* sound rather weird, but I'm very intrigued to try it!

      I'm afraid my habit once the little man is in bed is more likely to involve a glass of wine, but it is *sometimes* tea!

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  3. Fruit teas are my favourite and travelling has certainly widen my tastes. I am delighted to have discovered your blog and will add you to my travel blog roll.

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    1. Lovely to hear LindyLou, thanks very much! Travelling really does widen your tastes in many ways, doesn't it!

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