The tea I was brought up on most probably came from the Nilgiri tea plantations in the Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu. ‘A dark, intensely aromatic fragrant and flavoured tea’ says Wikipedia. Hard to tell with the large serving of full fat milk in which the tea was boiled in before being drained and served with a generous dosing of sugar – the way traditionally enjoyed in India.
Getting accustomed to English life however, meant getting accustomed with the tea culture. And along came Tetley tea. Historically set up by the brothers Joseph and Edward Tetley in 1837 and well, really rather English. Suddenly the tea was watery, the measure of milk was reduced and added cold, but sugar was still the norm.
Time spent at university with ‘northern’ friends taught me the joys of Yorkshire tea. Study days with flatmates fueled by an unending supply of tea. The phrase ‘cup of tea anyone?’ was rarely negatively answered and the next round of tea was in. Tea bags quickly dunked in water, a splash of milk – done in 30 seconds (by this time health consciousness meant no added sugar).
In mainland Europe people generally drink coffee. But when tea is drunk, it tends to be done well – freshly brewed delicate Darjeeling first flush, exotic Ayurvedic mixtures or freshly cut ginger with orange and mint. Added to that the optimal brewing time and the appropriate homemade cake to go.
Some of this has sort of rubbed off on me. My collection at home now looks something like this…
Once a tea girl, always a tea girl. But oh how things have changed.