I love tea. I grew up in a household where my nan (grandmother) would brew a pot on the half hour. I even had tea in a bottle when I was toddler. We didn’t seem to have any allegiances to any particular brand, but when I was little I remember we had PG Tips. I used to collect the special cards that they included in the boxes. Sometime in the eighties I think we moved over to Tetley.
How do I take my tea? Strong with milk and two sugars. Oh and leave the spoon in so I can continue to stir the sugar in if necessary. And, no, I won’t take my eye out with it! I’ve had years of practice with this method 😉
I began experimenting with different types of tea in my teens. Some of it came from The Tea House, a lovely shop in Neal Street, Covent Garden, London. I developed a taste for Ceylon first and would have Orange Pekoe. But ceylon is a very mild black tea and it became too light for me after a while. In fact, I can’t drink it at all these days. Which is a bit of a shame since I feel quite nostaglic now when I see ceylon tea. But I turned away from it and moved onto English Breakfast for a while and then to Assam. If my relationship with tea was a love affair then assam would pretty much be my tea life partner since I’ve spent the majority of life drinking it and blends of it. Assam is variously described as a rich, full bodied tea. It was all I would drink up to about six years ago. I had begun exchanging emails with Clara Parkes of Knitter’s Review and we began a yarn exchange. I asked if there was anything else that she’d like from the UK. Yes, she’d like some Marks and Spencer Extra Strong Tea Bags. I’d never heard of them before and certainly had never tried them but when I picked some for her I got some for me too.
They were very strong, stronger than anything I’d drunk before. They were a blend of Assam and Kenyan teas and they grew on me. Nowadays I rarely enjoy anything else. In fact I’m so finicky about my tea that I rarely drink it away from home. Of course I have a stash of tea at Doug’s so I drink it there. But with rare exceptions very few places make tea that’s strong enough for me. Even greasy spoons where you’d assume builders tea would be the average can produce some surprisingly insipid mugs of tea. Almost on a par with the vile stuff that’s served on trains. Urgh!
I don’t just drink black teas, I also like some green and white tea blends. I recently ordered some jasmine pearls. These are whole green tea leaves rolled up with jasmine flowers. I’d previously bought some during my last trip to Berkeley but that was over three years ago, so I was keen to get some that were fresher. I ended up ordering some from TeaPigs as well as some of their chocolate flake tea (an assam blend with chocolate shavings) and some honey bush roobios tea temples. Tea temples are what they call their special tea bags. They use whole leaf tea and after trying it I couldn’t help but wonder if I could find a whole leaf tea that was better than the M&S extra strong. It would mean brewing tea the old fashioned way in one of my tea pots, they’ve sadly neglected since I became hooked on the one cup tea bags of the extra strong.
More tea is on the way so my tea adventures will continue in another blog 🙂