Poetry and fine sentiment

What do these treats have in common, besides being healthy and tasty? All were given to me by friends who know how much I love a good cup of tea!

What do these treats have in common, besides being healthy and tasty?
All were  given to me recently by friends who know how much I love a good cup of tea!

“There is a great deal of poetry and fine sentiment in a chest of tea.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

I agree with Emerson.  Beyond the delicious taste and health benefits, tea provides a pleasant daily ritual that requires pausing for at least a moment or two in preparation, and hopefully a few more minutes of pure enjoyment, even if one is sipping in the midst of other tasks.  Those little miniature breaks in the work day can provide a real mental boost that isn’t limited to whatever caffeine may kick in.

So many varieties of tea come in attractive packaging that complements its refined nature, and this adds to the delight I find in collecting different flavors. The artistry of the tins and boxes adds to the poetic appeal.  As to sentiment, I am fortunate to have a collection that has come from many different friends and loved ones, and each time I indulge in a cup of tea that was generously given to me by a person close to my heart, it’s as if they are paying me a quick visit, saying hello across the miles by providing me with a few minutes of joy in my everyday life.  My tea cupboard is chock-full of happy sentiment!

Tea has been around for centuries, and I think the traditions associated with it across so many cultures indicate that it must have been a favored gift for as long as people have been enjoying it.  I imagine that Emerson had his share of memories linked to tea shared among friends, whether it was given to him as leaves for brewing, or as a steaming cup of hospitality on a chilly New England day.

As I am writing this, the weather has gone gloomy and overcast, which sets the perfect tone for writing a post about my favorite beverage.  I invite you to join me in a few moments of fine sentiment as you sip a leisurely cup of whatever flavor suits you best.  Feel free to wax poetic — or simply chatty — in the comments below.  Santé!

37 Comments

  1. I was distressed to discover recently that teabags contain plastic, but now I have weaned myself off them and started using loose leaf tea I’m enjoying some new favourites. Currently I like Nilgiri tea best – the variety I have has huge pieces of the leaves that unfurl in the infuser. I drink my tea black and this is a particularly good variety to drink without milk.

    • Oh, no! I had not heard that, but I’m not surprised. It seems that plastic is everywhere. After I started drinking lots of loose tea, I fancied that I could taste a difference between it and the tea that is brewed from tea bags, but I wondered whether it had to do with some bleaching agent or other chemical in the paper. In any case, the tea bags are so handy for quick brewing that I will always keep some of both. But Alys gave me some of these nifty tea filter bags to make my own bagged tea. They are 100% unbleached paper. Of course, it’s hard to totally mess up the flavor and benefit of tea, so I continue to drink it in all kinds of forms, all of which I enjoy. I even learned to drink it black — quite a stretch for a Southern girl who adores her sweet tea — but now I actually like it as well or better without the sugar. I think the tea flavor comes through best that way. I agree with you that the large-leaf teas seem to have better flavor.

      • The woman who runs our Campbell tea shop told me that the lesser grade of tea is used in bags, so it makes sense that the loose tea would be more flavor-able. I like the convenience of bags, but like you, I do notice the difference. Let me see if I can find a link.

        • I thought I had noticed that the tea in tea bags was of a finer grind, and possibly is made from the leavings of the loose tea. Not that any of it is bad, of course. It’s nice to have all sorts of ways to enjoy it, depending on the circumstances. I suppose it’s similar to drinking pre-ground coffee vs. grinding the beans just before brewing.

          • That’s a good point. Mike is very particular about his coffee and prefers to grind his own beans. I grew up with a mom that drank instant coffee and a dad that drink British tea (strong, with milk and sugar).

            • I drank that British style tea at the home of my pen pal in Essex, England, back in 2001. I am convinced that’s partly what made me a tea fanatic. It was a cold drizzly day and we had been out and about — coming home to her fireside and drinking the genuine British version was magical.

              • It does sound magical, Julia. I love the British custom of an afternoon tea as well. It’s so relaxing and civilized.

      • I have a handy infuser with a very fine mesh that sits in a mug and is (nearly) as easy as a bag… I really can’t be bothered with all the faff of making a pot when there’s just me at home!

        • K sent me a cute infuser that looks like a manatee. (It’s called a MANATEA, hee-hee.) It’s perfect for making a cup at a time. But on days when I’ll be home all day, I can easily drink an entire pot by the end of the day. So I use both approaches, depending on my schedule.

  2. Good morning, Julia! Why thank you, yes. I will join you. Coincidentally, last night I was drinking peppermint tea and considering bringing a new delicious blend with me to work today. You’ve certainly reinforced my decision to bring it along. You may hear more from me later….

    • Susan, I hope we did enjoy some tea at work. I’ve only recent started enjoying peppermint tea, and I’m surprised how much I like it since I was never a fan of peppermint candy. Right this minute I’m drinking some twice-steeped green tea since I don’t want to get too much caffeine this late at night. I normally go for the herbal caffeine-free varieties after 5 pm. We are so fortunate to have such abundant healthy choices! It makes it easier to stay away from the empty calories.

  3. My daily intake of tea has increased dramatically since my Spring Break trip to Victoria BC. I was delighted by the town and of course being surrounded by so much tea. And now of course I’ve become a crazy addict of David’s Tea (which I’ve even created a Facebook fan page for: alaskaneedsdavid) because I’m all about sharing the tea love. So correct me if I’m wrong, but do I spy two David’s Tea things in this picture? The silver bag of tea facing away from the camera and the agave sticks? I know they have some stores in major cities in the US. I’m wondering if there is one near you? Just curious. 🙂

    • J, it sounds as if you experienced the same post-vacation surge in tea consumption that I had after my trips to England! Living in Alaska, you definitely deserve to have lots of tea on hand. I saw your FB link to David’s and “liked” the page — and YES, you did spy two David’s tea things in the photo. Kelly (a.k.a Boomdee) bought me those gifts on her recent trip to Victoria, and luckily she got me a different flavor than you did. I believe you got me “Strawberry Fields” and she got me “Love Tea #7” and the agave sticks. As far as I know, there are no David’s Tea shops near me, but now that you mention it, I will have to look it up. Surely they won’t ignore the U.S. capital if they are infiltrating (no pun intended) their neighbors to the south! But if not, that just gives me an excuse to go back to Victoria myself, hee-hee. Incidentally, the very first hot tea I loved, as I think you know, came from Canada — the wonderful Northern Lights Exotic Maple Strawberry that you managed to find for me — quite a feat, as I had been searching for it for years, without success.

      • By the way, the next post (on Monday) will feature something else you will recognize! Be sure and check back.

        • I follow your blog regularly so no worries about that. 😉 And they have a store locator on the website (davidstea.com). I know I saw some on the East coast but can’t remember where.

          • I went to that site when you first told me about it, but I don’t remember finding a store nearby. I’ll have another look.

  4. Carolyn

    Looks like you will be having some good down time enjoying all your new teas. Enjoy and have a great week end. We are all doing fine. Love and hugs to all. Carolyn

    • Hi Carolyn, I’m enjoying some of that down time right now! Wish you were here to try all these flavors with me, but till then, just raise your cup there in Tennessee and imagine our next get-together. Sending lots of love your way, and praying you will continue to do well.

  5. Ahh…a cup of hot tea. Thanks, I’m joining you for a cup ❤

    • Merry, I just brewed another serving for myself. It’s a bit chilly now that the sun has gone down, but I drink it even in hot weather. Hope you have a great weekend coming up!

  6. Julia, being here in the south, brewing a pitcher of sweet tea will come as no surprise! It’s Bill’s drink of choice right now. I love the variety of tea that you sent to me at Christmas! I’ve been rationing it so as to always have another one from you. I love the “Peach Cobbler” and may have that tomorrow on the May verandah. Will you meet me there? Hi to the Denton fellas!

    • Sheila, I will be there “with bells on” as the old saying goes. I took a peek at May, and it’s one of my favorite places in the world. I’ve had a post with a photo from the same magical little village as the picture on the calendar. Some people live there full time, but others of the cottages are rented out to vacationers. I’m not sure if it’s open to the public, though. In my opinion, it’s the most enchanting place on Martha’s Vineyard! I’ll have to send you some more tea so you won’t have to ration. 😀 Hope you have a fabulous weekend!

    • Alys, thanks for this helpful link. My experience certainly matches what it says. I have always been amazed at how much more the loose tea seems to expand. I often put too much in the strainer because I forget how it “blooms” in the hot water. I also have noticed that a good tea bag will expand considerably. The cheaper ones tend to burst, which is something I don’t like since I steep my tea bags twice (or if they are really good, even three times). I suppose that tells you what an addict I am, pretty much drinking it all day long, but I think that also dilutes the amount of caffeine I’m getting with subsequent cups, which is a good thing. One nice thing about tea bags is that they are so portable. Invaluable for travel, since hot water (or a microwave to heat it) can be found almost anywhere, and it’s easy to take favorite tea bags along wherever I go.

      • I’ve traveled with my own teabags before, too. I like a variety of teas and herbal concoctions, and like you, drink it without milk or sweetener. My current favorite is Rooiboos.

        I too tend to overfill the bags, but now that I’ve read the link, I’ll be more judicious. I also compost my tea bags.

        • I have lots of Rooibos tea – I started drinking it when I read about it in the Botswana books by Alexander McCall Smith (Mma. Ramotswe loves her red bush tea). I’ll try to remember to send you a few bags of mine to try. It comes in lots of flavors, as I’m sure you have discovered.

          • That’s when I started drinking it too!!! We read the book as a book club and it was my turn to host. I bought Rooibos tea and was hooked from the start.

            • “Red bush tea is very healthful, Mma. That is well known.” 😀 That is one of the few series of which I’ve read every single title (except the most recent one, which I can’t wait to read). You may recall that Mma. Ramotswe is a big fan of pumpkins, too.

              • I do remember the pumpkins! I’ve only read three I believe. I’m glad to hear you’re a fan.

  7. Tea is my comfort food. I never came to crave coffee. What’s a bit odd is that I prefer good old Lipton tea bags straight from the grocery store. Living in Portland, Oregon, with it’s dozens of specialty tea shops from exotic teas I suppose I’m a dinosaur. Tea is one of the only things I enjoy all by itself without a sweet treat accompanying it. Maybe I’ll add a slice of fresh lemon but that’s about it. 🙂

    • Bob, I can identify with what you’re saying here. I can enjoy coffee occasionally, especially as a special treat (the kind with tons of chocolate, sugar and cream) or when I really need extra caffeine. But tea is much more to my liking in general. I have a funny story about Lipton tea — I was enjoying a sumptuous breakfast at a lovely B&B where Amy and I stayed in Ieper, Belgium (on a farm located, literally, “in Flanders Fields”) and the tea was so delicious I drank several cups. I asked the hostess what kind it was and with a grin, she brought out her Lipton tea bags! I thought, “maybe she just knows how to brew it.” 😀 but obviously, Lipton does a good job with tea, and I would never turn it down. Jeff and I have taken to adding lemon juice to our tea (he does it for health reasons) but I agree with you that it needs nothing to improve the flavor. I like to sample different kinds simply because it’s like a hobby to me.

  8. I too love tea and their beautiful containers. My daughter and I had a cup today and often put a spoonful local unprocessed honey to sweeten it. We love our tea too. Lovely post.

    • Thanks, M — I just love honey, especially the local unprocessed kind. My mother used to sell it in bulk when she opened her first health food store in 1977. Until I was diagnosed with diabetes in 2010, I used to use way too much of it in my tea. Now it’s a rare but always enjoyable treat. Years ago my Daddy flew with a beekeeper who made Orange Blossom honey and he would sometimes bring me a jar of it. It was SO delicious!

  9. Sheila

    Julia, when I turned to the May porch on Friday it really was like a storybook setting. We have never been to that area but hope to be able to sometime. Our upcoming trip to London and Paris is quickly approaching and the preparation for it is overwhelming. I intend to send an email to you with the details. Bill is improving daily and plans to travel as planned! He brought out several cameras for me to choose from and I could only wonder which one Julia would think best! ☺️ I hope you’ve had a good weekend. It’s been a beautiful weekend here. Love, Sheila

    • WHOA, London AND Paris? Be still my heart!! Two of the cities I love best. Can’t wait to read of your plans. Remember that whatever camera you choose, have: 1. plenty of charged batteries, and 2. plenty of card space for unlimited photos. 😀 Best of luck during the truly overwhelming process of planning ahead. Will this be your first trip there? If you are spending more than a day or two in either setting, you might want to look into getting a public transportation pass used by the locals (such as the Carte Orange, now known as the Navigo, in Paris). Be sure to get the right zones for it, though. An officer was actually checking each person’s pass on our trip to DeGaulle airport, and I’ve heard the penalties are quite heavy for having the wrong one. But it makes it so simple to zip around the city. Of course, walking is fabulous and fun but you will get tired quickly! I am so excited for you!!!

  10. LB

    Gee, I had to scroll down for an hour to make a comment!! 🙂
    Clearly, tea brings out the passion in people. Perhaps I need to try something else than Lipton (will i get kicked off this post for mentioning such a pedestrian tea?).
    I have lovely memories of tea time with my English relatives. I just loved pushing the tea cart around!

    • No worries LB, there is a discussion in one of the comments above about the merits of Lipton tea, which I quite enjoy. I am sort of a reverse snob so I would never kick anyone off for mentioning an everyday joy like Lipton or Tetley or Luzianne. One thing I love so much about tea is that there seem to be endless flavors to try and savor, but I never tire of the good old “everyday” black and green teas, and those are what I drink the most of. I didn’t realize you had family in England! How lucky you are to have memories of tea time there.

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