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Happy International Tea Day!
Gosh. When I discovered this event, I thought–as so many of my progenitors, particularly those like Auntie Pat and my Granny, might have–How marvelous! A day celebrating the joys of tea, its restorative effects in the face of calamity, and its propensity for inducing calm and serenity when all else fails. Elder Sophrony of Essex perfectly expressed the dynamic this way:
Stand at the brink of despair, and when you see that you cannot bear it anymore, draw back a little, and have a cup of tea.
As a person who’s spent more of her life than she thinks absolutely necessary “stand[ing] at the brink of despair,” I do believe that–on many occasions–I’ve drawn back and found a cup of tea has sustained me. So I was glad to see such a recognition of the Queen of Brews.
It seems I misread the situation.
According to its United Nations sponsors, “International Tea Day” is intended to :
…promote and foster collective actions to implement activities in favour of the sustainable production and consumption of tea and raise awareness of its importance in fighting hunger and poverty.
Crimenutely. It seems I can’t even have a cuppa anymore without my making an implied political statement with the implication that I need to show that I’m waving the proper flag and virtue signaling to the woke.
As far as I know, tea production was rolling along just fine, regardless (or irregardless at the case may be) of the fact that many of the principal producers have problematic histories on the world stage, until the republic formerly known as Ceylon (world’s fourth largest producer) went broke in 2022. Years of mismanaged economic policy and increasing debt were exacerbated in 2021 by the government’s banning of imported chemical fertilizers in favor of locally-sourced organic materials and an apparent craze for the greening of the tea leaves. Crops (read: Tea) failed, and the situation became even worse. In July 2022, the government declared a state of emergency and defaulted on international loans. Efforts to regroup and rebuild the country continue. I wish it well, and that the object lesson might be learned and applied to all.
Meanwhile, I try to find my best tea where I can. My current everyday fave is from Amazon: Brooke Bond Taj Mahal Orange Pekoe Black Tea (India). Loose tea (because I never think that what’s in teabags of any sort is anything other than the sweepings off the tearoom floor), strong enough to bend the spoon, if you steep it for five minutes, and even if you add milk, which–like all good Brits–I do. I don’t, generally, favor flavored and scented teas, so don’t much like Earl Grey. And tea which reminds me, in either (or both) taste and smell, too much of diesel tractor exhaust–Lapsang Souchong, for example–has always been a non-starter. (I regard such hyperosmial challenges as suitable only for things like single malt scotch, where–the earthier and more extreme–the better.)
So, on May 21, 2023, which I believe is the eighth “International Tea Day,” I wish you peace, comfort and serenity, no matter what version of the brew you’re drinking, and whether it’s politically correct or not. Unless it’s “chamomile,” which is utterly foul and a disgrace to the pantheon. I think Beatrix Potter knew this, which is why she punished Peter Rabbit with a dose after he’d misbehaved:
Of course, “tea” really isn’t complete without the accompaniments. Herewith, a few:
Happy tea time!
PS: I find myself agreeing with my Thai friend that one of the loveliest, purest tea flavors comes from the high-mountain Oolong Thai #17 variety. My first experience of it came from a purchase in Chiang Rai’s central market in 2018. Absolutely gorgeous, sweet, a bit flowery, a clear brew, and–in a concession to its excellence–I didn’t even add milk! Pleased to have finally found a source where I can purchase it (at considerable expense) stateside. But if you’re in its native region, I’d seriously suggest stocking up.
PPS: WRT the mention in the UN statement on the purpose of “International Tea Day” as stated in the OP above, the poster would like to acknowledge that the “importance [of] fighting hunger and poverty” is something we should all be on board with, and get behind. However, she’d also humbly, and with all due respect, suggest that–in her own region, where “hunger and poverty” are, if not endemic, at least more prevelant than they should be–there are more effective methods to combat such indignities than changing the brand of one’s preferred tea. Glory be.Published in General
Any government can torch the nation’s #1 cash crop. Sri Lanka pulled the string that bolluxed up the #1 food crop as well. Not enough to eat and no cash to buy energy brought the people of Sri Lanka together as nothing before ever had.
Beautiful spread, She.
I do enjoy a mid-afternoon cup of tea. Though (much to She’s chagrin, I’m sure) I use teabags. I only have a single cup, so a pot of tea is wasteful. Thus my use of teabags.
My brand of choice (such as it is) is Red Rose. My father’s family, immigrants from Cape Breton Island, drank it, so it’s what I grew up with. I’ve tried others, but Red Rose is what is familiar.
Thanks. #1 photo, and that at the top of the post, were from the grand spread at our December meetup, right here in the middle of nowhere. The others were from a few years ago, on a jaunt in which I connected with a former member here. All were delicious. Hope you can make it next time, whenever or wherever that might be.
Best tea I’ve had was at Claridge’s in London. Love smoked salmon sandwiches and cucumber with crème fraîche followed by scones with clotted cream. 😍
Hey, you do you. I understand.
Cape Breton? Absolutely love it. My family spent the summer of 1968 exploring the area, and at some point discovered–at the furthest reaches of Meat Cove–the sign proclaiming “McCarthy for President.” It’s here, somewhere, I just haven’t found it yet. Wait one. I will.
Yeah. Here it is. To the right and left of nowhere (click image to embiggen).
That United Nations site for “International Tea Day” has done what I didn’t think was possible – lowered even further my opinion of the United Nations.
The site consists of almost exclusively political bureaucratic babbling about the economics and politics of tea that could be written only by people who have no idea what an “objective” is, have no idea how to accomplish anything nor influence an audience to do anything. I could find only one sentence that came close to giving anyone in the audience any reason to consider consuming tea. Everything else on the site was about secondary or tertiary effects that are pointless if the consumers have no reason to consume the product. A sidebar even touts that the point of U.N. “International [whatever] Days” are to promote politics and activists. Apparently touting the actual product, service, or people is irrelevant to the people running that show.
I got news for these insulated bureaucratic dimwits: all the “sustainability” and touted economic benefits to the producers are meaningless if the consumer doesn’t consume the product. And you are giving the consumer no reason for the consumer to consume the product. The site gives the reader no reason to care about anything said on the site (other than the reader’s general compassion for people the reader has never met), has no call for the reader to do anything different from what the reader is already doing, and will not produce any benefits for anyone.
Apparently United Nations personnel are even more disconnected from the real world than I thought they were.
[For the record, I am a big tea drinker. I do not like the taste of coffee, so tea is my caffeine delivery mechanism, and I drink multiple mugs throughout the day. Mostly Assam and various English Breakfast blends.]
Where it’s grown:
Is this thing you reference a sort of ‘fair trade’ thing?
I remember my mother telling me that when my parents lived in Calcutta it was traditional for Bengali housewives to create their own mix of preferred tea – going to the market and asking for so much of this type, so much of that type, so much of another type – all varieties of teas grown in Assam and the hills at that time – but the result was that each household had its preferred and signature blend.
(Also – are those cucumber sandwiches hiding near the top of the last plate of goodies you show? I love cucumber sandwiches but every Right Thinking Person knows that the thing to eat with tea is pakodas. This is a public service announcement.)
And one of my fondest memories (as a fifteen year old myself) is that of a contingent of Catholic nuns who frequented the beaches at Ingonish. They wore extremely modest bathing suits, and were chatty and delightful. My late mother, my (very alive) sister, and myself have never forgotten them. My brother’s recollections (because he was only about three months old at the time) are up for grabs.
I don’t think I referenced “fair trade,” although I’m generally in favor of fairness in such matters. Along the way, I’m not sure what the “blobbiness” of your diagram indicates?
I LOATHE cucumber sandwiches. But yes, those are cucumber sandwiches. Because I recognize that those who feel differently might like them.
I have to wonder if it still looks like that (minus the sign).
It’s just a bit strange that ‘fair trade coffee’ is a thing (and we all want coffee producers to earn a decent living wage), but ‘fair trade tea’ isn’t (yet).
The size of a country on this blobby map reflects the amount of tea grown there rather than land area (or shape).
I think they’ve got Britain, North America, etc. there just for context – since I doubt much tea is grown in Norway.
Where are the pakodas?There’s no coming back.
My family’s CBI roots are around Estmere and Orangedale. We would drive up there every couple of summers. Got to know Estmere, Orangedale, Baddeck, Iona, Sydney, St. Ann’s, etc., fairly well. For some reason we never went to the east side of the island, nor the very north.
When my dad was assigned to the US Embassy as an assistant Naval Attache in New Delhi, India we practiced the British teatime custom in our home. My mom used it to invite the occasional guests that she found interesting from the diplomatic party circuit or circus if you like.
One night at a party she invited the wife of a German diplomat to tea. She broke down in tears. She told my mother that she never thought she would be invited into an American home after WWII. My mother said she expected to see her the following day at 4:00 PM.
The best use of tea, ever.
Yeah. Perhaps “coffee” is more socially networkedly interesting than the otherwise “repercussions of colonialist supremacist” tea. Just a thought.
LOL. I grow the bloody things. But only for pickling.
Pakodas? I am totally on board with such things, while I try to dodge the religiously thorough., and those who–somehow–find an attachment of any sort of cucumbers, FFS, an instrument of the devil.
Go away, please.
Cucumbers are good. The best way to eat them in sandwiches is in the form of dill pickles, but freshly sliced or chopped is fine, too.
Pickle ’em and put ’em on hamburgers or chuck ’em out.
I immediately thought:
Ray Davies REALLY likes tea:
Out of curiosity Doug, what year was that?
She: do you do Branson (or is it Bramson?) pickle and cheese sandwiches? Must invite
Dr. Jill the next time so she can learn her proper tea etiquette. What is your favorite tea sandwich?
A lamb gyro with cucumber sauce is good.
“The cup that cheers, but not inebriates.” – William Cowper
Lady Grey, similar to Earl Grey, but milder, with less bergamot orange and the addition of lemon peel and orange peel
PG Tips – I had had this only when visiting in the UK and never thought much about it. Then an Argentinian neighbor in Florida asked me to bring some back the next time we visited the UK.
Of course, I only drink tea with lemon and sugar. I just can’t get my head around milk in tea, although I use cream in coffee. Maybe because I grew up in the South drinking it iced, tea just seems to be a “clear” beverage.