30 teabagsDuring my one week of holidays I managed to consume about 30 cups of tea (despite the limited selection) and now I am trying to get back to 3 cups a day. I am successful on most days, but it does take quite a bit of willpower to withstand the temptation. You might wonder what the harm is in drinking 5 cups of tea a day. Well, it is not the tea that I am avoiding, but the sugar that I insist on adding to each cup.

After the difficulties I had in finding tea in Spain, I decided to check whether tea consumption is low all over Spain or whether it is just that La Jonquera prefers to invest in other types of beverages (see earlier post). According to Wikipedia Spain is number 137 in the list of tea drinking countries. That explains it.

I guess I should have been prepared for this even before I left for Spain judging by the tea-ignorance displayed by a Spanish colleague of mine. One day she asked me to help her make tea. I was confused. How could I possibly be of help? To clarify; this was not about an advanced tea ceremony, but about making a cup of tea at the office, using a tea-bag.

As we entered the kitchen my colleague looked at me, waiting for me to guide her through the mysterious process of making a cup of tea. The conversation went something like this:

  • Q: How do you begin? A: Bring some water near to boiling point (the exact desired temperature depends on the tea. For black tea the water should be as near boiling as possible, while more delicate teas are better at slightly cooler temperatures).
  • Picture from http://www.gregoryluiphotography.com/
    Picture from http://www.gregoryluiphotography.com/

    Q: What is the difference between the teas? A: Herbal tea has no actual tea in it. While black, green and white tea is made of the tea plant (camellia sinensis), herbal tea is just some herbs steeped in hot water. Black tea is made by allowing the tea leaves to oxidize, while green tea is minimally oxidised and white tea is minimally oxidised buds or young leaves. In addition, flavours can be added to all these teas, allowing for many variants.

  • Q: Should you put the paper sachet into the water or take the tea bag out of its packaging? A: Take the tea bag out!
  • Q: How long should the bag stay in the water? A: It depends on the tea, so read the instructions. Usually about 3-5 minutes.

This was a condensed and  version of our discussion, which did digress due to my complete bafflement at my colleagues lack of knowledge about tea. She explained that nobody had ever made tea at her house and that the only tea she had tasted was chamomile, which was given as medicine at her school. She mentioned something along the lines of, “Is it not complicated making tea at home?” A lot easier than coffee, I would think. Unless you drink instant coffee of course.

Under my careful guidance my colleague was converted and she is now an avid tea drinker. She even brings her own tea to the office, not being satisfied with the selection available to her. Although, I do not seem able to convince her of the merits of black tea. She prefers herbal or green. 

Ok, time for another cup of tea…