Tea facts that surprise and discomfit

Here are three tea facts and my personal resolution.

Question:  In the mid-nineteenth century, which country drank the most tea on a per capita basis?

Answer:  Surprisingly, Australia. The Brits overtook the Australians during the 1900s, although Aussies remained the second highest consumers of tea per capita globally until the late 1940s.  Apparently this Australian tea obsession was to do with cleaving to notions of British civility and impressing social order within the colonial outpost.

Jenier World of Teas

If you go on to the Lipton Tea website, it tells you in small print that ‘Tea is not a substitute for fruits or vegetables, which provide a wide range of nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. Please consult your doctor regarding a diet/nutritional plan that is right for you’. I wonder if wine has the same confined nutritional value? Surely not…

Meanwhile I had to go to Wikipedia to confirm a ghost of a rumour; that Thomas Lipton was a Glaswegian. Raised in the Gorbals he finished his life as a Knight Commander of the Victorian Empire.  He is buried in our Necropolis; I may need to make a pilgrimage.

Drizzle Cafe, Battlefield, Glasgow

As the double doors swing behind me: ‘Pot of English Breakfast tea?’. I nod and grin, then mumble incoherently about not looking at the lovely cakes…on a diet….. look so good but… etcetera. A smile to acknowledge my mumble.

As a creature of habit, this is one of the most comforting moments of my week. I never knew it till it happened, but how I had longed for a cafe owner to recognise me on arrival and to know my order before I do.

And this isn’t even the best part of Drizzle. A small cafe on Sinclair Drive in Glasgow, it envelopes you with its friendliness.  As you walk in, you have to acknowledge the selection of home baking and the artisan bread at eye level. You see the daily specials notice, sitting above the selection of Scottish cheese and chutney.  The menu promises home made soup and farmhouse style sandwiches.

Tregothnan Tea

Tregothnan has the fine distinction of being England’s first and only tea estate: ‘putting the English into English tea’. When you think about it, it is odd that there is only one tea estate in the UK given the coupling of tea and the British Isles. Maybe it’s something to do with empire – you wouldn’t really bother doing it at home when colonialism served it on a platter (literally) – or more probably it’s to do with the weather. Either way, this Cornish tea is a triumph.

I have a big box of Tregothnan classic tea in my cupboard.  It has a well rounded, mild flavour and vitally for me, no tannin after taste.  You can steep the tea bag for the recommended time and not feel the need to check your teeth are still there after your first sip.