Watching Victoria Woods two fascinating programmes about tea, unfolded for me a whole spectrum of memories. We drink tea every day, it is a ritual in the truest form, it is the companionable drink we offer when someone comes to call, it heals for a moment those times when we are shocked by some unexpected news, that first morning cup of tea shakes our system awake. During the day I drink 'Yorkshire' tea, not because it comes from Yorkshire but because it is a strong brew and the thought of tea being grown in the cold North makes me laugh, but my morning cuppa is now Twinings's Breakfast Tea for its gentler awakening.
Why Chinese mountains at the top, well tea (green) originally came from China, those tall straight sided mountains have always fascinated me since childhood and that is where the tea plants were grown on the shallower slopes and came from. Like fairytale strongholds these mountains with waterfalls and trees clinging to their sides, unreal and exotic. Growing older I became fascinated by Tibet, those high uplands with Buddhist temples seemed again somehow unreal, here of course they drank butter tea specially made in butter churns. Their tsampa, an essential part of Tibetan diet, a dough like food was mixed with the tea and eaten with your fingers
|Butter churns from Sera Monastery, Tibet.|
Herbal teas are of course fashionable now, the 'tisanes' of the continent, Poirot is always to be found drinking one, a great selection will greet you on the shelf at the supermarket, some are too bitter for my liking, and if you try the herbs from the garden they can also 'bite' the tongue. Raspberry leaves for women before birth is said to help, whilst mint is a good digestive tea, and pleasant to take. Apparently blackcurrant leaves are used in teas, probably only a few as the strong cats pee taste is slightly unpleasant, but it is full of vitamin C and good for you. Catnip tea, again I remember it as strong tasting, though you can mix it with some lemon balm leaves, is good for migraines, as is feverfew, though I must admit it never cured me. Camomile tea to relax of course and to smell, always fancied a camomile lawn but they are not very practical.
For these leaves from the garden you need a little metal tea holder, like a ball it unclasps in the middle and you put the leaves inside, not always easy to find, but a good deal cheaper than buying herbal teabags.