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Left this cuppa on the warmer too long – ewwwww! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Left this cuppa on the warmer too long – ewwwww! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Tea scum can be the bane of a steady tea drinker’s experience. And there appear to be two different kinds. One is from the tea itself and the other is from the milk that many of us add to our black teas to have that British experience. Time to find out how these come about.

Scum Caused by the Tea

At one time, the scum on the surface of a cup of tea was said to come from a thin layer of some waxy substance coating the tea leaves that melted off in the hot water. In 1994, though, an important discovery was made by chemists from Imperial College during their careful research into a matter that plagues tea drinkers everywhere. Samplings of the scum from various cups of black tea were put through a detailed chemical analysis, discovering that it was 15% calcium carbonate and the rest was various other chemicals. Thus, hard water that has a lot of calcium in it is a culprit here, but the tea contributes chemicals, too, that add to that scummy build-up. Less than one milligram of scum is formed in a cup of tea and is not thought to be a health risk, just an annoyance.

You can filter out the calcium (bicarbonate ions) or add acids to convert it to CO2 (carbon dioxide). You can also switch to bottled water, which is what we did in our house. Steeping the tea up very strong is another solution since the acidic tea polyphenols will partly neutralize those bicarbonate ions. Or you can add lemon, which has now been officially declared to be a solution by Michael Spiro and Deogratius Jaganyl, two British chemists at the Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine in London.

Tea stains inside teacups and teapots are sometimes referred to as tea scum but are not. Black tea is usually the one where the concern over these stains arises, especially on the inside of teapots and teacups where they are difficult to remove using normal dish detergents. It is said to be caused by pigments, formed during the fermentation of the tea leaves, that are left behind when the tea liquid evaporates. A damp rag, vigorous scrubbing, and a little baking soda have proven effective.

Scum Caused by the Milk

For those of us who like milk in our tea but don’t always drink that cuppa as quickly as we might the dreaded milk scum is a trial and tribulation. What it is, however, seems to be some cause for disagreement. Some say the scum is made of fat globules that coagulate on the surface when their surrounding film of proteins is broken due to heat. Thus, skim milk that has all the fat removed will not form this scum. Others say that the scum is coagulated proteins that form due to heat and then rise to the surface to form that scummy skin. Constant stirring is supposed to help prevent this, but if I had time to stir my tea, I’d have time to drink it before this scum formed and thus would not even see it. Using a cup warmer is another issue, where the lower the level of liquid in the cup, the higher the likelihood of scum forming on the remaining tea (with milk in it, that is).

Bottom Line

Both types of scum are problematic to tea drinkers but seem to have fairly easy solutions. For the first kind, you can switch to bottled water or to using lemon in your tea. For the second kind, you can drink faster so the scum doesn’t have time to form. Gee, I wish all problems had such simple solutions!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The tea vendor’s own brand is often the better deal! (ETS image)

The tea vendor’s own brand is often the better deal! (ETS image)

While those name brand teas can be very tasty and reliable, the tea vendor’s own brand is often the much better deal. Not always… but often!

Our tea pantry is well stocked with several name brand teas. We have a boat load of Barry’s Tea Gold Blend, plenty of Pg Tips, an ample supply of Typhoo, and even some Yorkshire Gold in both loose and teabags. There also is a box of Taylors of Harrogate Pure Assam Tea in amongst them somewhere. We enjoy these on a daily basis, but they do not count among our most favorite “must have” teas. That status belongs to several tea vendor brand teas, including these:

  • Borengajuli Estate Tea – We absolutely love love love this tea! An Assam tea that is everything you expect from this tea growing region of India. Great with milk and sweetener. Or you can use a bit of honey or even lemon.
  • Scottish Breakfast Tea – We love this one just as much as the Borengajuli Estate Tea. Sometimes it’s a coin toss in the morning as to which of these we steep to drink with our breakfast. This is a blend of Assam and Keemun and steeps up a cuppa that would make the Scots proud.
  • Keemun Panda China Black Tea – Another totally delish tea that gets us all excited just thinking about it. Slightly smoky but not overly so.
  • Sylvakandy Estate Orange Pekoe Tea – Absolute diviniTEA! What can we say other than that it’s total deliciousness in a cup. We steep up a 6-cup potful and soon have it all gone.

That’s the black tea category, but hubby and I have some favorites in other tea categories, too:

The main point here is to show some of the many tea vendor brand teas that are as good as or even better than name brand teas and at a much better price. For example, here are some quick price comparisons as of the writing of this article:

  • Barry’s Original Blend – 80 teabags – weighs 8.8 ounces (a little over half a pound) – list price is $14.99 (19 cents per bag or $1.70 per ounce).
  • Borengajuli Estate – loose leaf – weighs a full pound (16 ounces) – $14.74 (92 cents per ounce).
  • Borengajuli Estate – 50 teabags – weighs 5.5 ounces – $7.84 (16 cents per bag or $1.42 per ounce).

The tea vendor brand is more economical without any sacrifice in quality, both in the loose and bagged versions. My Scottish and Irish tea-drinking ancestors would highly approve!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

As I had pointed out in a previous article on this blog, the Dutch were pioneers in bringing tea to Europe and the Western Hemisphere. They and France were at one time the top tea drinkers there. And then Britain got into the act, with tea rooms eventually edging out pubs as the most popular places to go for some liquid refreshment. Today, the Dutch continue to imbibe that beautiful brew (tea) and in their own inimitable fashion. Time for a look at some details, just in case you’re planning to pop over there for a cuppa some day.

Delicate Dutch tea tables with marquetry and storage drawers. (Yahoo! Images)

Delicate Dutch tea tables with marquetry and storage drawers. (Yahoo! Images)

1 They don’t call it a “cuppa”

“Having a cuppa” is a very British expression. The Dutch, being Dutch, tend to have some thee (a French word pronounced “tay”, even though they started out in their early history of tea drinking using the Cantonese word cha). A common Dutch expression is: Boven zijn theewater zijn which means literally “To be above his tea water” and more figuratively is used to say someone is agitated, angry, or drunk.

2 “Orange Pekoe” tea grading came from the Dutch

The Orange Pekoe grading system originated with the Dutch. (See info about the system in my article here.) According to Dutch legend, peddlers from the Lower Derlandse were the ones who discovered tea in China and brought it back to the Netherlands. They presented it to the House of Orange and called it “pecco” – the word is supposedly from the Amoy (Xiamen) dialect word for a tea in China called peh-ho (“white down”). Thus the name “Orange Pekoe,” and giving it the regard of being a “royal” tea.

3 Tea time outdoors is an “any chance you can get” affair

The Netherlands being a fairly northern country has the climate to match, meaning that sunshine isn’t as plentiful as in such locations as Miami, Florida, or Phoenix, Arizona. So when the sun does deign to shine, they move en masse to the outdoors for their tea time. The teapots tend to be the more sturdy, thick-sided kind that help hold in the heat, keeping the tea warmer. They also have loads of coffee shops where you can get tea (if you’re that desperate for a cuppa after all that sightseeing) – it will be the bagged kind served in a typical coffee shop cup with plastic lid. Tea is available in restaurants, too, and is usually served like the British do, with scones and other traditional foods.

Hellema Volkoren Speculaas (Wholegrain) (via Yahoo! Images)

Hellema Volkoren Speculaas (Wholegrain) (via Yahoo! Images)

4 They waffle on their tea treats – literally!

The quick break for afternoon tea often includes a treat known as stroopwafel (a thin, crispy waffle “sandwich” with syrup in the middle) – it is served atop your cup of hot tea so the filling can be softened. And yes that tea is already steeped and ready when served to you. Plus, there are cute little cookies, such as the windmill shaped cookies shown here.

5 Unlike the British, the Dutch favor tea without milk but with flavorings added

Although the Dutch tend to drink more coffee, they love good tea and go in big for flavored teas. Most of these just don’t taste right with milk added, so they never acquired a taste for that milky style of tea the British drink. They also tend to steep them up lighter than the British do. The flavors are mainly ones we’re familiar with, such as Earl Grey, Strawberry, Cinnamon, Mango, Raspberry, Blackcurrant, and Orange.

A couple of top tea brands in The Netherlands:

  • Pickwick Tea – A smooth, aromatic Dutch tea offered in a variety of popular Dutch flavors. Warm up a room and then your senses with the smells and tastes of the Netherlands. Available in several varieties of teas with flavorings such as caramel or licorice added (the Dutch love licorice about as much as chocolate!). Herbal rooibos also available.
  • Lipton – Available in numerous flavors, including jasmine green, mint green, white tea with raspberry, peach/mango, pomegranate/cranberry, Russian Earl Grey, vanilla/caramel, etc.

6 Tea and chocolate? Of course!

Chocoholics, rejoice! There is plenty of chocolate to be found in The Netherlands. The Dutch love chocolate and are world-renowned for the quality of theirs. So, tea time with a bit of chocolate is very doable. Their chocolate is processed in a way developed in the early 19th century by Dutch chocolate maker Coenraad Johannes van Houten; it is treated with an alkalizing agent that modifies its color and gives it a milder taste than those made using the Broma process. This style of chocolate is the basis for modern chocolate used in ice cream, hot cocoa, and baking.

7 High-class tea time is definitely doable

Stop in at Sofitel Legend The Grand in Amsterdam for a high-class tea served with wonderful treats and quality teas. A choice of several varieties of tea, freshly baked scones, jam and clotted cream and a range of delicate pastries, combine to make for an unforgettable afternoon tea time. This hotel stands out as a top 5-star luxury hotel in Amsterdam and is located by two gentle canals and the Royal Palace in the heart of the city. They have an acclaimed restaurant called Bridges as well as a spa and banquet facilities. Their staff reinvents Dutch hospitality à la française.

8 Vintage Dutch tea storage containers are quite collectible

Not having plastic pouches and machines that could vacuum-seal them, the Dutch stored their teas in tea tins and wooden tea caddies that were as attractive as they were practical. Wood marquetry was common in these caddies as well as delicate tea tables (often with locking drawers to keep various tea implements). Now these items are for collectors.

Dutch Tea Tins and Wooden Caddy (Yahoo! Images composite)

Dutch Tea Tins and Wooden Caddy (Yahoo! Images composite)

Final note: Take a trip to the Netherlands for the tulip viewing, a visit to the Delft factory, some sun and fun on their beaches (they have a few and love to enjoy time there), and oh yes, have a lot of tea!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

by Guest Blogger Sarah Rosalind Roberts

Tea is deeply embedded in Chinese culture. It is steeped in history and rooted in thousands of years of tradition. In China, it is brewed as a drink for many different occasions and also has many symbolic meanings depending upon the situation.

Legend tells us the leaves of the camellia sinensis were discovered to be drinkable in 2737 BC when emperor Shen Nong was sitting in his garden sipping steaming water and a tea leaf dropped into his cup. He found the result of this to be refreshing and so tea, or cha as it’s also commonly  known, was born.

The Chinese have a very different relationship with tea than we do in western culture. There are many aspects that I feel could improve both the way we view tea, but also how we drink it. Here are some ideas, influenced by Chinese culture, that could enhance your cuppa tea.

1 Take your time and enjoy

The Chinese preparation of Kung Fu cha is a slow and careful process of brewing tea.

It’s far away from the dip and squeeze tea bag method we’re more accustomed to in the west. They allow time to brew the tea, and also have intermediary steps between steeping and drinking. These steps involve pouring the tea into a pitcher cup to thoroughly distribute the tea and then into an aroma cup, with another aroma cup placed on top. The tea is then flipped into the top cup and inhaled prior to moving it to the tasting cup.

It’s a very long process, but what it teaches us is that good tea is worthy of this type of ceremony. So next time you think about dipping and shaking your tea bag, take a breath and take your time to appreciate the smell and taste of the leaves.

Sandra's Rose Bone China - 6 Cup Teapot (ETS image)

Sandra’s Rose Bone China – 6 Cup Teapot (ETS image)

2 Invest in a good teapot

The Chinese are renowned for their Yixing clay tea pots, which are porous and the oil in the tea builds up over time creating a very distinct flavour. If you’re not able to find this type of teapot, you could invest in a beautiful fine bone china teapot, such as this one, which will help you enjoy your tea.

3 Chinese tea etiquette

There are several nuggets of Chinese tea etiquette that you could apply to your tea drinking habits. Whilst pouring tea for a guest, lifting the pot three times signifies you are bowing to them and when you place the teapot down, make sure the spout is not facing anyone as it is considered impolite.

Adopting a Chinese mindset towards tea will help you to appreciate its flavour and aroma, allowing you to develop a deeper relationship with those lovely leaves.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The everyday tea ceremony is just as important as the ones you might participant in for a special occasion. You’re probably asking, “What everyday tea ceremony?” To which I stare at you in shock and disbelief. Well, that’s where we need to start, then: how to make some time for your everyday tea ceremony. And don’t worry, it doesn’t need to be as stylized at Chanoyu or even the more relaxed Korean ceremony (both shown in my previous article here). The whole idea is just to focus on the tea and shut out any of the distractions going on around you.

That cozy corner – an important part of your everyday tea ceremony! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

That cozy corner – an important part of your everyday tea ceremony! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Let me make a bit of a side note here: this focus doesn’t just work for tea (enhancing your enjoyment and helping you get more out of the whole experience, but is also great for anyone trying to reduce their intake of food for personal reasons. I found that being more focused on every bite made me enjoy it more and feel satisfied sooner. Okay, back to tea.

Keep the Focus on Tea

Since the key here is focus, you have a couple of ways to go:

  1. Make your everyday tea also your tea ceremony tea – you’ll be amazed at how much more your perception of the flavor and aroma will be; you may even find yourself experimenting with the tea a little, trying it in different ways (iced versus hot, plain versus with flavorings/milk/sweetener).
  2. Make your everyday tea ceremony about getting away from that everyday tea – forego your usually cuppa for something different; for example, if you like a nice black tea, try a green, oolong, or white.

Elements of Your Everyday Tea Ceremony

Just as with those official tea ceremonies, your everyday tea ceremony will need certain elements:

  • A dedicated location – a nook, corner, or even a whole room can be set aside for your personal tea ceremony. Here’s an example.
  • A dedicated time – not necessarily the same everyday (that’s often impossible) but a certain time that is set aside (no other tasks going on – just the tea).
  • Dedicated teawares – a teacup, teapot, and other teawares that you set aside just for this time; if your tea ceremony uses a Yixing teapot, this will be especially important since these teapots are made of porous zisha clay and should be dedicated to a particular tea type such as green or oolong; if you want to use a gaiwan, make it one that is just for this time as a way to make the event more special; even a ceramic teapot or a steeping mug can be so dedicated (you might have to hide it away from other household members).

Whatever your approach and your reasons, this special tea ceremony will help you get more from your tea, savoring every drop instead of quickly gulping it. I would also recommend a place with no strange aromas and no foods. This is all about the tea. Enjoy!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

What do nuts, Victorian/Edwardian apparel, and Rapunzel-length red hair have in common? Lisa Griffiths, the lady who will make your tea time go nuts! And nuts and teas go well together, as I discussed in this article awhile ago.

The Victorian Lady takes tea! (image used with permission)

The Victorian Lady takes tea! (image used with permission)

Lisa is the founder of That Nutty Redhead – Frosted and Gourmet Nuts, a collector of vintage Victorian and Edwardian apparel (beginning at the tender age of 15) that is part of a traveling museum display, the star of her own series on a public cable channel (Cape Ann TV’s Channel 12), and the author of a book about vintage fashions.

Her “Nut Lady” motto is “Live a Little, While You Live a Little Longer!” She leaves out some items from her products that a growing segment of our population are becoming allergic to (such as peanuts). The ingredients she does use are claimed to be the best quality she can get. She also claims that her coated almonds, cashews, and pecans are healthy and tasty snacking. I personally don’t know one way or another about the healthy part. I also haven’t personally tried those nuts (the order I mailed off to her vanished into thin air – a total mystery), but quite frankly I can’t imagine that they would be anything but totally delicious

So, the question you are probably all asking right now is “Which tea goes with these nuts?” The answer (in my humble opinion):

The other question is which tea is best when you’re wearing those corsets and other Victorian/Edwardian garb. (I’m rather happy to wear more loose-fitting garments at tea time and any time.) And the answer to that is any tea you want!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Your usual tea might be a strong black tea blend, or something flavored such as Earl Grey or Cinnamon Black Tea, or even a green tea such as Gunpowder. But sometimes you just need a palate-cleansing tea in-between those regular cuppas. We understand. And concur.

Freshen your palate with an “in-between” tea! (ETS image)

Freshen your palate with an “in-between” tea! (ETS image)

Hubby and I have numerous “in-between” teas, often a bit of a leftover sample we’ve tried already and set aside for such a moment. The typical scenario is for us to steep up a 6-cup pot of strong Assam, have a cup while making breakfast, a cup with breakfast, and a cup after breakfast. About mid-way to lunch we need to whet our whistles again, but the Assam seems to heavy, so we go with a lighter tea next (some Ti Kuan Yin Iron Goddess Oolong or Steamed Darjeeling green tea). Sort of like a palate cleanser. By lunch time we are usually ready for another strong black tea, such as a black Ceylon or a nice Keemun.

The senses of taste and smell tend to get over stimulated. If they encounter the same taste and smell for awhile, they tend to get used to it, making the perception of that sensory stimulus have less impact on you. A great example is the various smells in your own home that you may not notice but a visitor will (litter boxes are a big culprit here). Switching to a new tea will give those tastebuds a change from what they were used to. Just be sure it’s a tea that tastes different enough. If you like flavored teas, have an “in-between” tea with a different base – a flavored green tea instead of a flavored black tea, for example. That way you keep those senses stimulated and get a more flavorful experience.

So, how do you get started? One option is to order some sampler packs (loose or bags) and switch around, having one this time, another that time. It makes your tastebuds happy and gives life a bit of variety!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Gyokuro Japanese Green Tea (ETS image)

Gyokuro Japanese Green Tea (ETS image)

Spring is always a welcome time for those who live in cold climates and probably a little more so this year for those who live in certain chilly regions of the United States. Spring is also looked forward to quite eagerly by avid tea fans, as it’s the time of the year in many regions when tea harvesting begins and some of the more prized teas begin to make their way to consumers.

Some of the most eagerly awaited of these teas are probably the shincha, or green teas that come from Japan early in the year. Shincha roughly translates to “new tea” and for some tea lovers are some of the most highly anticipated teas of the year. For more on shincha, refer to this article I wrote a few years ago.

Spring is also the time of the year when we engage in the ritual of spring cleaning, though I suspect that it’s a practice that might not take place as often as it might have in the past. Here’s an article from Brittanica Blog that suggests why spring cleaning might be something of a relic these days and gives a history of the practice.

With the new tea harvests getting underway and the weather turning warm it’s as good a time as any to do a spring tea cleaning. If you’re like me, you might find that over time your tea cabinet starts to get a bit congested. In my case, as I’ve noted before, I receive a fair amount of tea samples from vendors, but I’m not really keen on throwing out tea I don’t like, and so they tend to pile up in my tea cabinet.

But spring tea cleaning came a little early for me this year. As I related in a recent article, I finally managed, through one means or another, to get my tea cabinet down the point that it was nearly empty. Which is not as bad as it sounds, and I was actually quite happy to mark this milestone. Most of the tea that I had no interest in drinking had fallen by the wayside and what was left was the tea I really wanted to drink. Best of all, there’s now plenty of room for more of those teas that fall into this latter category.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

As a tea drinker I don’t get around much. For the most part, I drink tea at home and at work. I don’t go to teahouses and the like for a number of reasons. The first reason is location, location, location. While there’s one in town that has a good reputation and whose fine tea I’ve actually purchased, they’re too far away to be convenient. Even if they were closer the cost of a cup of tea at a teahouse is many times what it costs me to make one at home and then there’s the fact that I’m not really wired for lounging around over a cup of tea.

Your own tea space can help you enjoy tea more! (stock image)

Your own tea space can help you enjoy tea more! (stock image)

If you’re like me and you don’t care to go out for tea but you’d like some of the ambience of a teahouse, you might consider a dedicated space for tea. Of course this will depend on whether you have space you can dedicate for such a use and in its simplest form might just be a dedicated room or even a corner of a room.

If you want to get a little more serious about this sort of thing you could build your own tea house. As the Wall Street Journal recently reported it’ll set you back somewhere between $5,000 and $20,000, so it’s not really an option for casual tea fans. On the plus side, said tea house comes in kit form and thus should be relatively easy to assemble. The idea is the brainstorm of one Kiyoshi Mitsunami, a Japanese carpenter who began selling the kits a few years ago in Japan and eventually expanded to begin selling them abroad.

For an interesting overview of the process of building a Japanese-styled tea house, as well as some interesting background on these structures, check out this site for the Teahouse Project at Cornell University. It focuses on a group of students who pitched in to build such a tea house.

If you’d like to get more ideas for a tea space or tea house or if you’d just like to take part in the armchair tea house experience, there are a number of books that might be of use. There’s The Modern Japanese Tea Room, by Michael Freeman, for starters. The Contemporary Tea House: Japan’s Top Architects Redefine a Tradition was put together by a gang of authors and is described as a “beautiful and fascinating volume [that] takes the traditional tea house and turns it on its head.” For a Chinese take on the topic take a look at Neo-Chinese Style Tea Houses, which is slated to be released in May of 2014.

See a related article on this blog: “A Tea Room of My Own” by Janis Badarau

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The English Tea Store Assam TGFOP Tea – looks almost like coffee but much better (ok, so I’m biased!). (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

The English Tea Store Assam TGFOP Tea – looks almost like coffee but much better (ok, so I’m biased!). (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Just like that Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, you need a guide to dealing with the coffee drinker in the house. But unlike that other guide, this one will not whisk you across the universe.

You drink tea. Not coffee. Tea. But your hubby, wife, or other domicile companion drinks coffee. He/she might occasionally dip a figurative toe into tea (at least we hope it’s figurative) but mainly sticks to that java. You, meanwhile, cannot abide coffee. Well, maybe just the smell of those wonderfully roasted beans…but not the liquid. There are many reasons for such a distaste. You might have a very sensitive tummy. You might just find the flavor repellent. You might associate coffee with something bad from your childhood (mom had to have a second cup, so you were late and missed the school bus and had to walk all the way to school during the worst blizzard of the century, for example). There are ways of dealing with this coffee drinker in the house that will result in a more peaceful co-habitation for you both.

What Not to Do

Okay, first of all, no violence. You can solve this peacefully. After all, tea is the beverage that calms and invigorates. (It’s that lovely theanine that, unlike the caffeine in coffee, can accomplish both the uplift and the calm down.) So, you are starting from a position of superiority. But don’t be too uppity about it. A more noblesse oblige attitude is needed here, as in “you poor coffee drinker, so deprived, let me lift you up out of your wretched condition.” Hm… sounds a bit uppity. How about “sure you like coffee more, but what would you know about good taste?” … uh, well, let’s just say that being deprecating in your tone and choice of words could prove counter productive here.

Sneaky tactics are also out. Hiding the coffee (beans or pre-ground) and putting a package of fine loose leaf tea in their place could result in the tea being scattered across the entire kitchen. A mess of tea leaf pieces sprayed across countertops, floors, tables, and chairs. You could have even worse results by trying to hide the coffeemaker, be it a Keurig machine, a Mr. Coffee-style maker, or even one of those old-style percolators like my mom used to make dad’s morning coffee. Imagine if that coffee drinker decided to do tit for tat. Who knows where your teapot or other steeping vessel would end up!

What to Do

With those cautions out of the way, time for some useful advice, starting with maintaining a cheerful, positive attitude. The other day someone commented on one of my posts that she hated tea, so I responded in a way that was meant to be helpful to this afflicted woman (hating tea is certainly an indication to me that someone is deprived). I suggested that she try better teas and should order some samplers. The response: “Gee, sounds like a good idea.” Turning the negative into the positive! So it can go with that coffee drinker. Stay positive. “Yum, that ground coffee has a wonderful aroma. Gee, how would you like to try this tea? It’s very similar.” Start them with something strong such as a nice CTC Assam. If they like milk in their coffee, have them try it in their tea. Ditto for sweetener. The idea is to make the tea experience close to the coffee experience. People tend to balk at sudden changes but can be eased into change a little at a time. But unlike that frog in the pot of water where the heat is being turned up slowly, the end result will be beneficial.

If they use a Keurig for their coffee, buy some K-cups filled with tea (yeah, I know they’re not ideal and rather wasteful) like English Breakfast and Earl Grey. Again, you want to keep the flavor similar. If they use a percolator, show them how to steep in a teapot using loose leaf tea (or teabags, if you must) to get the best tea flavor. And use a tea that’s one of the better ones. You can get them to use my 2-teapot method to assure that the tea doesn’t oversteep. If they just won’t take the first step to prepare tea, back up a bit and steep up enough tea for you both, inviting them to have a cuppa, even a small one.

The intransigent coffee drinker will be a true challenge, but you can take another approach – one I euphemistically call “live and let live.” A little tolerance of their rather incomprehensible choice of wake-up beverage will keep things from escalating to such foolish behaviors as scone throwing at the coffee drinker or chasing him/her from the kitchen to avoid that overpowering fragrance from blocking your enjoyment of your tea’s aroma, which is such an important part of any tea lovers complete experience.

Here’s hoping for a peaceful experience for all involved.

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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