Saturday, June 30, 2007

There Is No "I" in Tea


But there may be a “U” in tea. July contest!The name of one lucky commenter will be drawn at random to receive two beautiful issues of Southern Lady’s Tea Time magazine, chock full of recipes and tea lore, a Maine treat and some other sweet stuff. You’ll have to supply your own cup of tea. I’ll be having mine iced on vacation, so look for a new post with the winner after July 11.

You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me. ~C.S. Lewis

I’m a tea drinker. Although I love coffee, it doesn’t seem to always agree with me (Coffee ice cream seems to be okay, though *g*.). My favorite brand is King Cole tea, which is manufactured in New Brunswick, Canada. So, sometimes foreign intrigue has been involved when I want to purchase it.

I came across this tea when I was working in another school district. The school nurse walked by, and she smelled terrific. Actually, it was her mug of tea. Her mother lived in Calais, Maine (pronounced “callous” here---sorry, Francophiles) and she went grocery shopping in Canada every time she visited. My friend CeCe knew someone who worked on the railroad, so we had this poor guy smuggling tea into Maine. Anytime one of us went to Canada on vacation, we were given cash to bring back boxes. Tea mules, as it were, but fortunately the gauze sachets were not secreted in any uncomfortable places. Last summer I went to Montreal, and the only souvenirs in my suitcase were six boxes of tea. King Cole can also be ordered online, which somehow takes all the fun out of it.

Tea is the new “hot” thing for health. According to the King Cole website:

A growing body of research indicates that the tannins in tea are naturally-occurring flavonoids that have strong antioxidant properties. Drinking tea is a natural and pleasant way to increase dietary intake of antioxidants.

There is mounting evidence that suggests that antioxidant-rich foods may play a role in reducing the risk of certain cancers, heart disease and stroke.

Sign me up.

Tea has been a regular part of English life since the 1660s. It gained in popularity when Charles II married Catherine of Braganza. She was a teetotaler who preferred tea to wine and ale, and soon everyone at court was drinking tea. Eventually, the public sipped along with the aristocracy.

English people take their tea seriously. The London Times printed letters for months whether one should add milk before or after the tea is in the cup. Opinion was mixed. And heated.

Tea rooms in Britain today serve “full” tea from three to five o’clock. On the menu: savories (small sandwiches and appetizers), scones with clotted cream and jam, cakes, cookies, shortbread and other sweets. And tea, of course. I guess I’ll have to skip dinner.

Drinking tea is obligatory in most historicals, even though the heroes always mutter that it’s swill. Sebastian in Suzanne Enoch’s Sins of a Duke drinks tea that is “awful, something bitter and tasting like old sticks.”

Classes are taught in tea etiquette. There are rigid and mysterious rituals associated with it in China, Korea and Japan. Apparently tea had something to do with the founding of a country, too. I just know I like to drink it, hot or cold.

What’s your pleasure? Coffee, tea, or both? If tea, milk or lemon?

What ritual do you have that makes you happy? Any exercise/health hints you swear by? Do you take vitamins? Thank goodness for Centrum Silver.

If man has no tea in him, he is incapable of understanding truth and beauty. ~Japanese Proverb

We had a kettle; we let it leak:Our not repairing made it worse.We haven't had any tea for a week...The bottom is out of the Universe.~Rudyard Kipling

Great love affairs start with Champagne and end with tisane. ~Honoré de Balzac

44 comments:

BernardL said...

When 'I' drink tea, hot or cold, I like it with only lemon.

anne said...

I love tea! Black, green, herbal, blended, flavored, iced...Jackson's, Twinings, Fortnum & Mason, Celestial Seasonings, plain old Lipton...Earl Grey, Prince of Wales, Irish Breakfast, English Breakfast, Jasmine, Lapsang Souchong (tastes like the scent of burning leaves)...I could go on and on!

I'd never heard of King Cole before I read your blog, Maggie. Was it the regular tea, or was it a special blend that smelled so good?

irisheyes said...

I hate coffee, love tea. It's a treat, though. I don't drink it on a regular basis. Mostly plain old Lipton or variations thereof. I did away with the cream/milk about 20 years ago, but still add 2 teaspoons of sugar. I also love iced tea with lemon. The Arizona Ice Tea brand has become quite popular recently. I've also been known to try to get through a Long Island Ice Tea, although I usually pass out before it's 3/4 done. I'm a real lightweight when it comes to alcohol and caffeine. Either one in small doses really affect me.

My Irish grandmother used to steep 2 tea bags for 10 minutes, add 3 teaspoons of sugar and enough milk to turn it from dark brown to tan color. She would turn over in her grave with the advent of microwaves. She wanted the water boiling briskly. You couldn't even turn off the flame until after you removed the kettle from the burner. Drinking tea is an art in my family (and a huge ordeal for the more anal)!

I do take all sorts of herbs to boost my immune system. My DH and I have both gotten very health conscious lately. I do a lot of research and reading up on all sorts of alternative treatments for all of our aches and pains.

I'm watching my 80 year old mother and my 75 year old father-in-law, along with all their friends, pop at least half a dozen pills a day that cost between $100-$500/month and I don't want to end up like that.

RevMelinda said...

Portland is a fine tea town. Stash and Tazo are both local brands.

Best tea I've ever had was Tea at the Empress Hotel in Victoria BC. I even came home with a little jar of "Empress Tea." Though of course the most Impressive part about that Tea (it looked much as you described the British "full" tea) was the price--$100 per person! (OK, it was Canadian dollars, but STILL. . .) My poor (now ex) brother in law almost passed out on the floor when the bill came.

Sue A. said...

I also experienced tea at the Empress Hotel. I vaguely remember our server explaining the tradition and etiquette involved in the partaking of afternoon tea, but I have to admit what I remember most was the shocking price of it all. Now that I've experienced that once, I won't need to do it again at least at those prices, but someday I'm going to try recreating the experience at home. I loved the dainty finger sandwiches, butter scones and various baked treats.

I also prescribe to the belief that tea is good for what ails you. When I'm feeling a little under the weather I enjoy a cup of tea with honey and lemon.

"If you are cold, tea will warm you; if you are too heated, it will cool you; if you are depressed, it will cheer you; if you are exhausted, it will calm you."--William Gladstone

Maggie Robinson said...

Oh, Sue, thanks for adding another quote! I love when a "cuppa" is always offered to perk up the heroine in Britain-based books.

And RevM, I don't believe I'll be joining you and Sue at the Empress Hotel anytime soon. I've had the full tea in England and PEI, though...quite lovely.Yum for clotted cream. (Oh, and I read your romance novel sermon, which was absolutely fabulous. I'd like to link to it here if I can figure out how to do it and you give me permission. Maybe after my vacation, I'll get it posted, maybe before if I'm not in a packing frenzy!)

Irish, I almost wrote up the tea "recipe," warming the pot, etc...but even writing about all the steps to make a "proper" cup of tea is as bad as doing it! I'm perfectly happy with my tea bags, heathen that I am. And you've got to tell us your alternative health plan. I'm one of those pill-poppers for my arthritis!

Anne, just the plain old KC tea. People tell me it's not considered at all fancy in Canada, but to me it's got a distinctive aroma and flavor. And it's not expensive, either. I've tried those upper-crust brands but always come back to King Cole...when I can get it. No excuses now that it's online.

Bernard, I love a slice of lemon myself, sometimes even a slice of orange when I'm feeling frisky. But I need sugar.

Tessa Dare said...

I usually drink coffee, just because it's more caffeine per ounce - this is a pragmatic decision for me. But I do enjoy a nice cuppa from time to time, as well.

And I'm really looking forward to 'full tea' with EJ and JQ in Dallas!

anne said...

Irish, I'm clotting my mug of steaming Bengal Spice with Graham crackers, but I've absolutely no doubt that my next local tea purchase--expected within the hour--will be a large box of "plain old Lipton," LOL! You can do so much with it, from drinking it straight or adding lemon, hone and lemon, lemon and sugar, ginger, ginger and sugar, vanilla, cinnamon...You get the idea! It's just so nice on a hot, humid day. And, it's delightfully simple--a welcome change from the "gourmet" teas.

And, yes, there's nothing like that Irish/English method of making tea.The water MUST be boiling, and yes, never, ever turn off the flame before you take the pot off the stove! (As my own mom and grandmom taught me.)

But about that legendary darkness of the brew...My aunt would steep six bags at a time in a traditional pot. The tea stayed brown no matter how much milk one poured into it!

RevMelinda, you have a romance novel sermon??? Now THAT, I'd like to see! (Gad! Am I talking like Yoda?)

Maggie, the KC still sounds wonderful! I'm going to check it out. Have a great vacation!

TiffinaC said...

LOL, I pronounced the Calais en francais too! I'm not francophone but I think growing up in a bilingual environment has had some effect on my language, even if when I attempt French I know I'm butchering it...Damn verb tenses.

Oh yes back on topic.

I'm a tea drinker, and I've never heard of King Cole, I'll have to look it up to see if it looks familiar.

And you add milk after you've brewed, or the tea is not as strong. I like strong tea, and preferably Earl Grey, even a little Lady Grey. I don't mind if it's in leaves or bags, as long as I get my million cups a day.

And I usually take my teas black, or with a drop of honey (especially in the ginger and chamomile varieties) The only flavour's I've never been able to enjoy is mint. I can't even do mint chocolate.

And I drink flavoured coffee (French Vanilla, or Vanilla Hazelnut) When I drink it. I'm one of the few Canadian's that's not gaga googoo over Tim Hortons...

I also drink tea hot and cold. My Iced Tea I like with raw sugar and real lemon.

Maggie Robinson said...

Anne, I've just linked to Rev M's sermon (and your wips too!) in a new sidebar thing...In Others' Words. I'm very happy to post other writers chaps, etc., so, anybody, if you want to send me something, I'll link to it there.

Tessa, rub it in. Seriously, you are my window on the writing world. Your generosity is an inspiration, and I expect all the gory (crumby?) details of that tea.

TiffinaC said...

Oh, and for vitamins...well I used to take greens plus [stop snickering and gagging terri] but I found I got sick more often than not. So I found better use for my money.

I have a diet high in calcium (okay I drink like four litres of milk a week) and a large variety of veggies, kale and spinaches and fruits. I could eat fruit to know end. And meats and eggs high in omega, and other essential vitamins - a lot of fish.

I eat constantly, but mostly healthy foods.

and Rev...our Canadienne dollar is almost on par with USD! :D Which makes me very happy to be traveling through the States soon.

And Maggie, I had no idea you'd been all over Canada!

Maggie Robinson said...

Tiff, Maine people pronounce things quite oddly---Callous, Ban-gor (not Bang-ore). When my husband and I were actually in Calais, france, he kept saying, "Here we are in Callous, France" just to drive me crazy!

King Cole is Atlantic Canada's favorite brand, I think.

Maggie Robinson said...

Tiff, mostly Atlantic Canada. It's so easy from Maine. Love the Cabot trail on Cape Breton Island. I was in Toronto once, but only in the airport! Someday we'd like to get on that train and go to Vancouver, see the Canadian Rockies. I love love love Canada. John's family is from there and my step-grandmother was from Nova Scotia.

TiffinaC said...

Yeah I looked it up Maggie...Never heard of it or seen it. Our organic teas here are brand name Tazo...very full bodied and rich! Their black tea is a great wake up call if you are overly tired. And I drink Twinings (Bags and leaves) and Stash is another popular variety in Toronto.

TiffinaC said...

I have family down east. It's very beautiful. But the furthest I've been is Halifax. And My favourite travel spot is Montréal (Vieux-Montréal). Never been out west, though I lived in Calgary/Edmonton until I was about five, I just don't remember it much.

anne said...

Maggie, thanks so much for RevMelinda's link. That sermon is too lovely! It's got me in tears, though it's a wonderful way to begin a Sunday.

Tiffinac, my mother's friend Geri was originally from Calgary. She spent so much time with us when I was a child that I developed a Canadian accent (eh)!

And if I continue to sit here blog-hopping, I'll never get out to the store for my tea, LOL! (Oooo, somebody nearby has their grill going, and it's only 11 a.m. NOW it's beginning to feel like the holiday weekend. Yay!)

Stephanie said...

Oh tea!!!! I adore tea. Unfortunately, I've been having a hard time finding quality tea shops where I am in TX. There's one that I haven't been to that's about 30 minutes away...somewhere...don't know how to get to it or what it's called! There's another tea shop about 20 minutes away and their food is great, but the tea variety is lacking. They only have bag varieties and I'm all about the leaves! I'm the type of person who hops on tea shop sites and I browse all the time. It's not just about the taste of tea for me, it's about the atmosphere and feeling I get when drinking tea. Does that sound weird?! I must hunt down this King Cole tea that you speak of, and also the magazine!

Oh...and I like strong blacks the most because for me, nothing can top the aroma!

RevMelinda said...

Anne, I am so pleased and delighted that you enjoyed my sermon! Once I got started writing it the words just poured out--very cathartic (and of course I held up some clinchy naked-chest covers for people to snicker over).
And Maggie, thank you for linking to it!
::I love you guys::
Now back to your regularly scheduled programming. . .

irisheyes said...

Maggie - I'm a heathen too! It's the microwave and then a bag of Lipton for me. I find I don't have the patience to wait for anything anymore! LOL

For arthritis I would try Glucosamine with Condroitin. I have several people I know who swear by it. I shop at several health food stores, but I've also purchased stuff from The Vitamin Shoppe and been happy with it. I just started getting arthritis in my right hand and it can get pretty painful.

MsHellion said...

I loathe tea, in all its forms, iced, hot, lukewarm...it's... *shudders*

Coffee's okay; mostly for the caffeine. I like my coffee with hot skim milk, frothed; skinny latte with a caramel flavor added.

I wish I could like tea; I hear so much about the antioxidants, but *shrugs* I can't help my taste buds.

terrio said...

I grew up with my grandmother who was born just outside London so there was tea all day long in my house. Must have cream and sugar and of course you don't add either of those until it's in your cup.

I only drink coffee if I have to (read: roadtripping and dead tired) but I can't stand it without french vanilla creamer and alot of it.

There is a little shop not far from my house that is everything tea. I'm going to take Tiff there but don't tell her....LOL!

Maggie Robinson said...

Steph, I'm sure somewhere in Texas there's a BIG cup of tea with your name on it!

Anne and RevM---my very great pleasure.

Hellion, it's OK...you don't have to like tea. Sounds like you hang out at Starbucks!

Terri, your secret's safe with me (and all the other people here, LOL). Wish I could join you.

Irisheyes, I'm probably the only person I know that glucoswhatever doesn't work on. Maybe I should try it again. My knees are shot and John keeps threatening to rent me one of those "Rascals," the rascal. No more high heels or hiking for me!

nearhere said...

I love tea! Iced tea that is. Not sweetened. I cannot stand sweet tea. bleecht. Whenever I'm in TX I head to Bill Miller's BBQ to buy a bucket of iced tea. One of the world's greatest tragedies it that the delights of a bucket (really a bucket) of tea have yet to spread to other fast food establishments.

Fortunately here in Boston there are several great tea places: Tealuxe, Dado Tea and Teavana. They all have great green and white teas.

I'm going to have to look for King Cole when I go to Nova Scotia this week.

AprilsMom said...

I Love tea! Nothing better on a cold morning than English Breakfast Tea (liberally laced with milk and sugar) and a Walker's shortbread cookie. I, ahem, have a small sweet tooth, you see. Very small. Hardly noticable. Barely worth mentioning.

Maggie, crystallized ginger (baby ginger root sweetened with raw cane sugar), apples and cherries are all supposed to be super anti-inflammatory and good for arthritis. "Take care of your teeth and your knees. You will miss them when they are gone."--author unknown

Have a safe trip!

Maggie Robinson said...

Nearhere, I hope to convert you to King Cole. Have a great trip, too. NS is gorgeous. Where are you staying?

Umm, Aprilsmom, I love crystalized ginger...and now I can say I'm eating the whole bag for my health! And do you think eating a whole pint of Cherry Garcia will work? I actually had a "gardening accident," which started the decline in my knees...I was digging a deep hole for a rose bush and somehow got carried away with the shovel and tore cartilege (sp??). The other knee decided to act up and match it. At some point when I am no longer chicken I'll contemplate surgery. Major wuss here. The wrinkles have nothing to worry about...I'd never get rid of them through surgery OR Botox!

irisheyes said...

Okay, someone needs to explain to me the difference between Sweet Tea and Iced Tea. Is it the same stuff just with a different name depending on the part of the country you're in?

AprilsMom said...

Oh, Maggie!! Poor knees--ouch squared to the hundredth degree! (And since I have only recently discovered crystallized ginger, I tend to "push" it to my friends and family.) I say, "Go for it!" with the Cherry Garcia. I use the same "reasoning" to eat chocolate-covered cherries. Lots and lots of chocolate-covered cherries. Did I mention I have this teensy sweet tooth?

Oh. My. Lord. Irisheyes, don't even ask that question out loud. Any Southerner within hearing distance will rhapsodize for hours about the best glass of sweet tea he ever drank. Sweet Tea IS iced tea, but plain iced tea is definately NOT Sweet Tea. (The only tea I like is hot, which is akin to treason down here. I have learned to just keep my mouth shut and smile a lot whenever the discussion gets going.)

AprilsMom said...

P.S. Sorry, Irisheyes. It occured to me that I hadn't answered your question. Iced tea served to you plain with some packets of sugar or Sweet&Low that you add yourself is Not, repeat Not, Sweet Tea. That is iced tea. However sweet you wish to drink it is up to you.

Sweet Tea is brewed tea that sugar has been added to and then left to steep. It is served over ice and delivered to you presweetened. How MUCH sugar one needs to add and exactly when during the process is what all the discussion is about down here. BTW, I have only encountered Sweet Tea in the South and SouthWest. Is it "served" (i.e. argued about) in other parts of the country as well?

Janga said...

Irish, did you miss the sweet tea discussion in the recipe section of the EJ/JQ board?

My nephews even drink it for breakfast, and we make gallons of it for every family gathering. When I travel, I always know that I am back in home territory when restaurants start serving grits at breakfast and providing sweet tea.

I do drink hot tea in the winter. I developed a taste for it when I was in college and a Yankee study partner always served it, but a tall glass of sweet tea gifts me with a Proustian moment.

Maggie Robinson said...

I knew I could count on you Southern Belles for the sweet tea answer. My friend Claudia in Virginia makes the best sweet tea ever.I sometimes make sun tea---anybody else try that?

Keira Soleore said...

Maggie, I finally made my way over here, to a fun-fun topic.

I love coffee, but if there's any Assam or Ceylon tea to be had, no bean can trump the leaf. I have a friend who swears by Darjeeling first flush tea. I prefer to sniff Darjeeling, not drink it; sniff the fragrance that is; but the brew's too sharp for my tongue.

Iced tea is one of those tastes I haven't yet acquired. I'm with Irish though on the topic of Long Island Ice tea; one of the best things Hubby ever introduced me to.

Typhoo, anyone? Much better than Tetley's as far as supermarket tea from across the pond goes.

Maggie, I was stunned when British Airways once served clotted cream as part of their cream tea in-flight in the sardine section.

What's sun tea?

Santa said...

For my 30th birthday, my m-i-l took me to tea at the Plaza in NYC and it was glorious. I love to do things like that, to step back into history. The huge potted plants in the corners of the room. The wonderful chandeliers. And the teas (Earl Grey - Hot), the sandwiches, the petit fours...marvelous.

I luv a cuppa in the winter when I am starting to feel under the weather. Earl Grey again or Darjeling with two teaspoons of sugar, please. Delish.

elyssany said...

Oh Maggie---you made me think of my favorite type of tea which I discovered in London called Whittard's but more specifically their Dreamtime tea. It's so good and so sweet---off to search for it somewhere on the web.

God, the English and India do tea so much better, don't they? *g*

Maggie Robinson said...

Santa, there's nothing like a cup of tea when I have a cold...with a little whiskey in it. The Plaza sounds divine.

Keira, so glad you stopped by. Isn't it amazing how tea can smell and taste so different? This post with everybody's favorites makes me want to go grocery shopping.

Ely, yes...the British do know how to outclass us! We're always in such a rush; such luxury to stop the world and have a cup of tea and all the other goodies!

Keira Soleore said...

Maggie and Ely: I like how their current society is just as rush-rush as ours, and yet, they make time for elevenses and afternoon tea.

I was reading through the other comments, when I noticed Anne's message with a mention for Sherlock Holmes's fav tea: Lhapsang Souchong. Ooh! That is delish, like gunpowder and rusted metal (not that I've tasted either mind, but a body can imagine, right?)

terrio said...

I think Keira asked about sun tea. That's when you fill a pitcher with water, put in some tea bags and leave it out in the sun on a hot day to steep. Then you bring it in, sweeten it up and voila - Sun Tea!

beverley said...

I'm a tea drinker. I can't tolerate coffee no matter what the flavor. Tea, however, I only drink with lemon. No milk or cream, just lemon. I also only drink Tetley's British Blend. If Earl Grey is there, I can do that too.

Keira Soleore said...

Oooh, Terri. That sun tea is something I must try the next time I'm out east!! What would happen if you were to add the sugar in before leaving it out in the wun? Wonder how the taste of tea would change then. Have a nice b'day trip, Terri.

Maggie Robinson said...

Let me tell you, it's 116 degrees in Las Vegas...making sun tea would not be a problem! I just came in from the pool before I roasted and died. I did have a hot cup of tea this morning though at the breakfast buffet. It didn't taste anything like King Cole. Soon I'm going to be one of those crazy ladies who brings her own tea bag everywhere!

Ericka Scott said...

I love my tea...hot or cold. But if it's hot, I like it with lots of cream and splenda....and if it's cold, I like it Thai!

Gillian said...

I adore iced tea all summer (lemon and sugar), hot tea all winter (sweetener only), and iced coffee in the summer when I have a headache.

When I had daughter #2, DH made me iced coffees all the time when I was tired. They bring back fond memories of a darling, cuddly baby (who is twelve years old today!) :)

Maggie, I finally broke down and built a blog:
http://gillianlayne.blogspot.com/
so come visit when you have a moment and say Hi :)

T*mmy said...

I just found your blog today and want you to know I enjoy it very much!
I love my one cup of hot coffee in the morning but the rest of the day it is cold ice tea and if I get too cold in this air conditioned house then a "cuppa" of my favorite Yorkshire tea given to me by a friend that got it in England. I take it with milk and splenda put in after it has brewed ;)
I like cold coffee's in the summer too(fraps)
Now...I'm craving a cuppa now that you've mentioned it! :)

Maggie Robinson said...

Ericka, I'm afraid I'm a real sugar gal myself.I love cream in tea too, altho purists say milk only. To heck with them.

T*mmy, welcome and I'm glad you found me! May you get all that you crave!

And Gillian, you're on my to-do list when I get back from vacation on Wednesday! Or maybe sooner if I can navigate the borrowed laptop and the hotel room internet connection.Blogging has become a bit of an addiction. Have fun with yours!

Lenora Bell said...

Coming in late on the tea discussion. I became addicted to jasmine tea while living in China. Every tea store had at least five different grades of green tea leaves flavored with jasmine flowers, all tightly rolled into little balls (jasmine "pearls"). The stuff they sell in the states isn't nearly as good. Even at the Tao of Tea and other stores that import. I'm going to miss it so much.