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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
Thanks for pointing this out! I did my part on int’l tea day by finishing off dinner last night with a cup (in Japan, it’s already Monday the 22nd). I made a career of the US Navy but never picked up the coffee habit. Drank iced tea as a kid for a while, then shifted to soda, making dental visits a perennial problem as an adult. Now that I live in Japan, there’s such a wide variety of teas on their market, they drink teas from everywhere. That said, it’s rare to find the tasty type of tea time service shown in your lovely photos.
I read a bit in a history of curry book about how tea wasn’t a common Indian drink until the British bought their tea and marketed it back to them. If I ‘member, the Brits were trying to break the stranglehold the Chinese had on tea by importing Indian.
I can drink green tea. However, I think black tea is much superior.
PG Tips is my general purpose Tea for less than a pot at a time. Our local Target store carries it, though there’s usually only a few boxes in stock at a time.
Leaf tea only in my house – including the adult kids.
I get my morning jolt from Assam CTC: no brewing necessary.
At weekends I have a fine Ceylon tea.
For variety, I have a couple of Chinese teas- mainly Golden Dynasty- and a powdery Kenyan.
I do my tea drinking in the morning- as a caffeine reducing exercise. My only tea bag sin is Roobois: a South African tea which is naturally caffeine- free and can be taken anytime.
As it happens I’m on my way to Istanbul today, so I might add a Turkish blend or two to my mix.
Wonderful post! I love Brits talking about their tea. It feels like I’m doing something wrong when I have mine and trying to learn some pointers. Alas, though, I love Earl Grey, especially the one with lavender, and I never add milk (Urrgh) to mine.
I just remembered. I once saw Peirs Morgan on TV explaining how real Brits take their tea and he recommended a brand called Yorkshire Gold. So I looked it up on Amazon and they had it but you had to buy a 100 container box. So I did. It’s ok. Nothing that I would call special, and now I got a lot of tea bags left over.
By the way, what does the word “Crimenutely” mean? Is that slang? I can’t find it in a dictionary.
I don’t get tea at all.
It’s like making love in a canoe.
I’ll show myself out now.
I bet you like cucumbers, too.
Crimenutely, it’s hard these days to come up with a word that doesn’t exist. I owe “crimenutely” to my wonderful boss of 20 years. The dynamic shouldn’t have worked at all, given that he was younger than I, shorter than I, had fewer pieces of paper to hang on the wall than I. Nevertheless, he was a brilliant and very secure man who wasn’t threatened at all by the mouthy females in his chain of command, and we respected his knowledge, his wisdom, and his management style greatly.
And yet, he often went to battle in interesting ways with the mother tongue. So I have a handful of “Rodneyisms” that I’ve held onto since those years because–frankly–the terms he came up with were often much more inventive, descriptive, and picturesque than the “proper” ones. So sometimes I mention “the crust of the matter,” or tell another than he appears to be in the grip of total “flushtration.”
“Crimenutely” is one of those words. Others may believe that “criminently” (which does have a dictionary entry and definition) is more proper. I beg to differ. YMMV.
I have for many years been familiar with “crimenutely” as an exclamation similar to “sheesh.” I have no idea how I picked it up, but I think it was as far back as when I was a teenager or young adult (1970s) in southern California. Or did I pick it up in Britain on one of the many trips I took there at that time. I also seem to remember a variant “crimeney.”
It sounds like an offshoot of ‘crimeney’ to me, too.