highlyeccentric: Teacup - text: while there's tea there's hope (while there's tea there's hope)
[personal profile] highlyeccentric
As per [personal profile] redsnake05, my 'favourite tea-drinking rituals and things'.

I must confess, I did not grow up a ritualistic tea-drinker. Although one notable family tea tradition is the putting on of the kettle just before the absent parent is expectd home, while declaring that the boiling of the kettle will summon him/her home. It only very slowly dawned on me that this worked not because of the parent-summoning powers of tea, nor because of sheer luck, but thanks to the tea-making parent's finely tuned sense of timing.

If left to my own devices, until recently, I drank teabags. I've not grown up a tea snob, although my other half in undergrad college was a leaf tea afficionado. In Sydney, [personal profile] kayloulee and I discovered The Tea Centre and its wonderful flavoured blends, which is what started me on my current fancy-tea binge.

Right now I have three leaf teas open in my kitchen: a Madura English Breakfast, which was my undergrad other half's favourite leaf. Madura occupy a price point just below Twinings, in Australia (this will be relevant in a moment). I have a Whittards vanilla leaf blend, and a T2 French Earl Grey. All of these have been posted or lugged in from somewhere else, because Switzerland has a FREAKISHLY WIDE range of herbal teas (hemp, anyone?) but is pretty dull when it comes to actual tea.

At work, I have a delightful two-cup teapot with a ceramic strainer-cup in it. I have a Madura standard blend leaf there, and a T2 Oolong, plus whatever teabags my officemate and I have collected (we just got rid of the herbal collection from previous office occupant). I had bought myself happy yellow teacups, but actually prefer to drink out of the plain white mug that was left by previous occupant.

Now, a thing that bugs me about tea. My English manfriend is a ridiculous tea snob (right down to only drinking India tea in the morning and China in the afternoons - who DOES that?). My officemate and adjacent boss are quite into tea. I have been collecting fancy tea like nobody's business. Right now, fancy tea is something... luxury, I guess, that's cheaper than most luxuries, and which can be easily sent to me as gifts. I can share it with other people and still have plenty left over for tomorrow. So I'm spending more money on tea than I might otherwise, and asking my parents to send me fancy tea, and so on.

Perhaps because of this - because luxury tea is a coping mechanism for tight financial circumstances, to me - I am constantly, gratingly, aware of how much tea snobbery is a product of class, and how much that varies by country. It's not a simple cut-and-dried question of quality. I have never heard an Australian dismiss Twinings as 'builers' tea, although many might sniff about teabags. Many might prefer luxury tea-store blends, but of the supermarket ones, Twinings occupies the highest price-point. Twinings was *too fancy* for my family, growing up. Sometimes a box of twinings leaf might be mixed through with Nerada (a cheaper Australian brand).

In Switzerland, anglophones are glad to see Twinings because there isn't much better available, although my colleagues still sigh an bring back teabags from Ireland when they can. Still, 'oh good, you have Twinings' is a tea-lover's comment here.

I quite happily drank Bushell's Blue Label teabags every morning for years. I *think* now I'm starting to see what Dr J means by 'twinings is too oily', but let's be honest, I could be imagining it. I've never heard an Australian sniff about Twinings being inferior - and I doubt that's because our teas are inferior (Madura satisfies Dr J's requirements), but because flukes of marketing and import patterns and so on have given it the highest supermarket cachet. That's all there is to it. (And FYI, the new Woolworths prestige own-label tea is just fine. I can't say the same about the UK Co-op fair trade assam, but it's pitched as HIGHER prestige than the comparable Woollies tea in Australia.)

Tea. I love it. But my god it's got class issues all over it. And that's without even getting into global fair trade ethics.

This has been this week's installment of December Meme! Pls to be providing one last prompt!

Week 1- Poetry as per [personal profile] majoline
Week 2- Fibonacci Interests, as per [personal profile] jjhunter
Week 3- Tea, as per [personal profile] redsnake05
Week 4-

Date: 2013-12-19 11:05 am (UTC)
majoline: photo of teacups (Teacups!)
From: [personal profile] majoline
Tea. I love it. But my god it's got class issues all over it. And that's without even getting into global fair trade ethics.


Date: 2013-12-19 05:37 pm (UTC)
kayloulee: ST: TOS Spock in an orange jumpsuit like a beekeeper "I am a space beekeeper.I keep space bees" (Default)
From: [personal profile] kayloulee
Twinings is the highest-priced supermarket label here too. I'm actually drinking Tetley's Orange Pekoe as my basic breakfast tea, even though I hate Australian Tetley's. It seems to be a different blend here - and it was the best deal in the big boxes of teabags that we used to buy in Sydney. I suspect that most Canadians actually buy Red Rose tea (it's also Orange Pekoe) when they buy tea.

The fancy blends that you get here are usually either Tetley's or Twinings. You can't get the ten thousand different little 10-bag boxes of Twinings here like you can at home, but you *can* get loose-leaf Twinings in 100g tins. I have a 100g tin of Lady Grey, which cost me exactly $7, half the price of 100g of a black tea from David's Tea or the Tea Centre. Liptons exists. I haven't bought any.

They also have fancy tea shops like Teavana (not very good) and David's Tea (good, same prices as the Tea Centre). I have some fruit teas from David's Tea which are particularly delicious (Mango Lassi and Bear Trap). Mango Lassi is tastier.

You can also get pretty good tea made by the Loblaws supermarkets premium label, President's Choice. I would LOVE it if they sold their Chocolatey Chai in bigger batches than they do. It's not actually chai, it just has all the spices and no actual tea. OM NOM NOM.

All this is kind of irrelevant in a country that worships the double-cream double-sugar coffee. I'm teetering on the brink of becoming a coffee drinker; I know how to make percolator coffee now, it's not hard. But I don't want to get into drinking coffee because it's got more caffeine than tea and I need my sleeps, precious.

Also: I deeply appreciated the Dilmah tea samples that were in the cookbook present you sent me. No tea here is as good as Dilmah. Apparently there are some Sri Lankan stores that sell it, but I don't know where they are.

Date: 2013-12-19 06:15 pm (UTC)
cursor_mundi: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cursor_mundi
*pokes head in* Seconding what K is saying about different blends regarding brands, and adding an additional note that you might find interesting: my mother conducted some experiments with Lipton's brand tea (lower even than Twinings or Red Rose...Red Rose was what my English grandmother drank; my mother drinks Liptons because it cheeeeeaaap and thus she doesn't have to feel guilty for abandoning the cup) and determined that there slight regional differences in the blends AND ALSO the water used to brew the tea makes a huge difference. The taste of the same box of Liptons teabags varied when brewed in the states of California, Virginia, and Maryland, even when the brewer herself was serving as a control.

Date: 2013-12-19 10:23 pm (UTC)
redsnake05: Art by Audrey Kawasaki (Default)
From: [personal profile] redsnake05
I agree that tea can have some strong connotations with class issues, and also that it's a relatively affordable luxury, and those two things can cause some dissonance. Personally, I find coffee snobbery much more difficult to deal with, and also, perhaps, less explicable. I mean, I can understand people my age having Tea Issues, because that's what we grew up with, but coffee? It's a very recent thing here, and it seems odd to me that so many people are huge coffee snobs (not saying that good coffee isn't important - it is!)

The NZ tea market also seems quite different. Of the two supermarkets I go to (neither of which is bargain basement, but also not the most expensive), there are always about five or six brands of tea available: Bell, Liptons, Dilmah, Twinings and Chainui being the most common, plus house brands. There are class issues in there - I would never buy Bell because I don't like the taste, for example, though my mother loves it and it's what I grew up on - but it seems almost like the argument between marmite and vegemite (which is a whole other kettle of trans-Tasman conundrums).


highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (Default)

September 2017

     1 2
3456 789

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 22nd, 2017 01:22 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios