As regular readers know, I don’t need a national day commemorating tea to drink tea. Tea is a staple as much as water and air. Hot tea is good for a cold, a sore throat, a mental health pick me up. There are so many varieties to choose from, not to mention the tisanes (herbal “teas” that don’t use actual tea leaves). In the above photo is my most recent cut of hot tea and two of my favorite flavors. With these two in particular, I add two teaspoons of sugar and a little bit of milk. The PG Tips takes especially good this way. If you want to complete the British tea experience, add a cucumber sandwich with marscapone. However you prefer your tea, drink up, but be careful: it’s hot!
I never miss an opportunity to celebrate the glorious nature of tea. Below is a selection of the variety of United Kingdom teas in my collection. Not pictured is a Scottish afternoon tea, Earl Grey, Lady Grey, and others that I’ve tried and liked.
One of my perennial go-to’s at Starbucks is a London Fog, which is made with classic Earl Grey with steamed milk and hints of lavender, vanilla, and Italian bergamot which lends a citrusy element.
There is no bad time to enjoy a cup of hot British tea.
I have a few go-to teas that I drink regularly or carry with me to conferences, vacations, and other times tea is needed, and honestly when isnt’t it?
They do change over time, so lately my go-to teas are Twinings English Breakfast Tea and Prince of Wales tea, and PG Tips, all with milk and just a little bit of sugar.
Today was a little different, though. I had an appointment at the mechanic’s. Instead of bringing my own tea, I knew that they’d have tea available, and I was very excited by my choice:
At home we don’t have a Keurig, so when I’m here I need to re-learn how to make the tea, but it’s not that difficult.
I’m enjoyng my second cup.
January is National Tea Month. Sometimes it’s nice to get a random reminder of the wonderfulness of tea. After the holiday season, I’m ready to get rid of the sweets and sugar-filled drinks like hot chocolate and eggnog, and even hot apple cider. I’m not a coffee drinker, so tea is my real go-to for all kinds of reasons, not the least of which is taste.
It’s getting better, but in the past, I have found it somewhat difficult to find the teas I like to drink. I went through a spate of only drinking chai masala or ginger tea. Unfortunately for me most ginger teas come in lemon flavor or green tea, and I prefer black tea as my base. With this first post, I want to share some of the places you can find teas nationally.
1. The Fresh Market has a wide variety of teas from your basic Lipton to imported from the United Kingdom, India, and China. They have nearly every flavor that you might want to try or add to your repertory of tea selections.
2. Adagio is a mail order tea company that has a fandom section. I’ve enjoyed teas from them in themes of Harry Potter, Supernatural, The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and more. They also have the opportunity to blend your own although I haven’t made use of that yet. They also offer reasonably priced sample tins so you can try something new.
3. PGTips is quintessentially British tea. Best taken with milk added first in a hot cup. Find Douglas Adams’s guide for making the perfect cup of tea. It is worth the Google.
4. Twinings has a wide variety. My favorites are the British and Irish breakfast and afternoon teas: English breakfast, Irish breakfast, Scottish afternoon, Prince of Wales, Earl Grey, Lady Grey among others. Afternoon teas tend to have less caffeine so less chance to keep you up at night.
5. Stash is the only place that I was able to get my Ginger Black Breakfast Tea that I originally and randomly found one box of in an overstock store.
Check your local directories for small tea shops or tea blenders and sellers. They are more and more popping up in localities around my neighborhood, and also probably yours as well.
Please add your own in the comments.
Tu Hwnt I’r Bont Tearoom, Llanrwst, Wales
PG Tips was started in 1869 (this year is its bicentennial) by Arthur Brooke in Manchester, England. It was named for its pre-digestion properties as a digestive aid until after World War II when regulators ruled that tea did not help in digestion. The tips in the name referred to the part of the tea leaf used.
Tea in stringed bags were launched in 1985 and the current triangle/pyramid shaped bag (no strings attached) were offered in 1996.
Knowing the importance of adverts, Brooke’s slogan was released early in the history of PG Tips:
“Good tea unites good company, exhilarates the spirits, banishes restraint from conversation and promotes the happiest purposes of social intercourse.”
Today was the first time I’ve read that slogan, and it very nicely sums up the experience of tea and sharing a cuppa.
While I was in Wales, I drank tea every morning, sometimes several times during the day. At home, I normally prepare my tea in a mug, but what I discovered in Britain was that it was so much better steeped in a pot and then poured into a warm cup. Glorious. Decadent even. I was fortunate to find a wonderful tea cottage in Llanrwst. It was set on the other side of the bridge alongside the Conwy River. It was beautiful, homey, and very tea cottage-y. I ordered white tea with scones and jam.
I re-created that wonderful repast this week for my breakfast, using my last bag of PG Tips. Drinking it I realized how perfect it tasted and I’ll be going out to get some more!
I’d like to share an anecdote from when I was visiting a friend of mine. He is originally from Wales (which is relevant), but now lives in the US. I was visiting him and his roommates. He and his wife had gone to sleep, and a few of us stayed up for tea. Friend #2 set the water to boil in the kettle on the stove. We were talking and when the kettle began to whistle we ignored it, finishing up the thoughts we were making. Out of the bedroom comes British friend, says nothing to us, turns off the kettle, pours the boiling water into the waiting cups and goes back to bed. The rest of us watch this with mouths open. He did not remember doing this in the morning. The tea is strong in the British.
Every morning, he made me a cup of PG Tips with milk and sugar and I’d discover it on my bedside table. It is still one of my warmest memories.