Storytime with Beth - Uncivilized Tea Drinking

Winter camping near Yellowstone the day after Christmas.

Oh, probably ten years or more ago I went to a Afternoon Tea on campus hosted by the AAUW.  The tea was being served by a quite proper professor, complete with British accent and everything.  

(She is actually Irish by origin, but went to boarding school in England for so long that she has a British accent--and, so I'm told, would listen to audio recordings of British speech in order to maintain her refined accent even after many decades in America.  I always found her an interesting lady.  But I digress.)  

So, she pours me some tea into a lovely cup and then reaches for the sugar bowl and silver pitcher of milk.  I decline both, preferring my tea to be plain/as-is/unadulterated.  Looking sort of...oh...ruffled?  Put out?  At a loss?...she hands me my cup and then turns to the woman behind me in line and asks "And for you?  Will you take your tea like a civilized person?"  

At which point it was my turn to look sorta ruffled, put out, or at a loss.  :)

She called me uncivilized...right to my face.  I mean, essentially.  More or less.  With a chuckle I took my fabulously uncivilized tea and wandered off to mingle.  

I love this story.  I mean, she's not all that wrong about me.  I'm not exactly high-class, upscale, or anything.  Though, jeez, I make my bed in the morning (and it has a dust ruffle!) and have cloth its not like I'm a mountain man! I love this story almost as much as I love plain black tea.

Drinking tea while I dabble with patchwork projects on my sewing table.

As has probably become evident by now, I am an avid tea drinker.  Historically, I've had a pretty narrow opinion on tea, too.  I liked it plain and black.  That was it.  I didn't want a bunch of spices.  I didn't want green tea.  I didn't want sweet tea.  I didn't want a bunch of fruity flavors.  I literally said "why bother?!" at the prospect of herbal teas.  "What!?  Just a bunch of flowers?  Pfttt."  I would even be quick to point out that it wasn't even technically tea at all!

But, as part of my caffeine-reeducation initiative I've learned that I was pigeonholing myself with this thinking.  I like a much, much wider range of tea styles than I knew.  Especially in the realm of herbal tea!  I actually like drinking flowers, even if they don't come with any pep.  :)  Turns out there is more to tea-drinking-life than just caffeine.  I also learned a few bits of technique, like green tea isn't supposed to be steeped in boiling water, that's too hot and scalds it which detracts from the flavor. 

A roadside picnic in Yellowstone--including some steaming hot tea, of course. 12/6/2020 

During the month of December I got to bask in a veritable buffet of tea blends which expanded my range even more.  I mean, how did I not know that Earl Grey could be made with green tea?!?!  It can be and it is simply amazing!  Amazing!  

They were all individually wrapped, but the tea bags from Palais Des Thes were nice--unbleached muslin and stapleless.  

See, it t'was the weekend after Thanksgiving and I was feeling mighty Grinchy.  Thinking about Christmas was stressing me out rather than bringing me the joy it usually does.  And then an unexpected package turned up at the door with my name on it.  

My ever-so-thoughtful and eternally generous godsister had sent me an Advent calendar with a different variety of tea for every day.  What a perfect gift!  And a gentle nudge of much-needed holiday cheer!  It really did me a lot of good.  She said that when she saw it she knew I had to have it.  

A pretty and pink brew!

I enjoyed just about every cup from the Advent calendar, except one...maybe two.  The Organic South African Detox for Draining was like drinking NyQuil in tea form.  I also had to google "Draining," in a detox context.  I mean, a draining tea?! That sounded like the opposite of the invigorating tea that I prefer.  Turns out, it isn't about pep at all.  It has something to do with the liver and improving the efficacy of detox cleanses, something I admit I don't really know much about.  The Genmaicha Yama wasn't bad, per se, but it was sure unusual and I'm not sure I can say it was to my liking.  I think it was the roasted brown rice notes.  It reminded me of straw.  Or hay.  Or something barnyardy.  I did finish the entire cup though, whereas I tossed out the Draining tea halfway through.  

My favorite days from the tea calendar were mostly caffeinated, which doesn't surprise me tremendously.  There were several green teas that I supremely enjoyed and that was more of a surprise.  Green tea makes me think of my maternal grandparents and I've always wanted to like it more than I do.  

I really, really, really liked both the Earl Greys-- the Blue of London with black tea and Green of London with green tea.  They were both utterly satisfying and nice.  I also really enjoyed the Grand Yunnan Imperial blend of Chinese black tea and the full-bodied and lightly astringent Saint-James O.P. black tea.  I found that I really dig green-and-black tea blends, more so than just green tea alone, say.  The Tibetan Monks tea was a really good one of those.  The Brazilian Detox tea had a triple punch of pep--tea, mate, and guarana--that wasn't lost on me.  There was also a tea--Merveilleux--that totally lived up to its name (which translates to "wonderful") in a way I didn't know was possible.  It was a green tea with caramelized almonds and pistachios.  It smelled like heaven, like the enchanting aroma that wafts from the nut stand down at the farmer's market.  I love caramelized nuts.  I didn't know I'd love them in tea form, but...I sure did!  Heck, I hadn't even considered that one could capture that flavor in tea!  I was pleasantly surprised and delighted with the find.

It wasn't just the peppy cuppas that were wonderful though, even if they will forever be my favorites.  The Scandinavian Detox tea was a brilliant red color and was tart with bright berry flavor.  It was a perfect balance of sweet and tart.  The French Garden and Herbal No. 46 were also among my favorite of the herbal varieties.  The No. 46 was so full of apple flavor.  It would be perfect for a fall day.  The French Garden had strong pear notes and smelled even better than it tasted.  It made the room smell fresh and fruity.  And the Louvre Garden tea was pretty lovely, too.

I warmed up with some tea after playing on the boulders on a winter campout near Yellowstone.  

Golly, do I love tea and all the endless varieties.  I'm glad I figured that out so this whole world of flavors and aromas could open up before me.  Even if I I still prefer it uncivilized.  No sugar, no milk--just tea.  ;)


  1. Hi Beth, I want a cup of tea...I'm still trying to use up some of my stash before I buy any more...but it's always nice to see some new recommendations...
    ~Have a lovely day!

  2. Oooooh, what a fun idea! An advent calendar of tea! I do love tea AND coffee. Coffee for the first cup and tea in the afternoon and night - currently drinking rooibos with cream and sugar :) When I drink my tea straight, I often put a tiny pinch of baking soda in it to smooth down any bitterness.


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