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-
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