December 26, 2006

What's so Great about Britain?

For many an American, myself included, tea was something that the Brit's drank. It was stuffy, it tasted bitter, at most you had it when sick. A quick glance at history shows that the British Colonists (aka: early Americans) used tea on numerous ocassions to symbolicly reject the decrees, laws and taxes handed to them from the Mother Country. Since then a bevy of beverages have taken precedence and now tea seems like a phenomenon, but's just another product of global sharing (after all, our new-found tea culture encompasses Asian as well as British teas and wares).

While I had embraced the notion that tea was more than a stiff-upper-lip British thing, I realized recently that I had, what with all my learning of various teas, unconsciously held onto a preconceived notion that all British citizens knew so much more about tea then their trendy American counterparts.

In my recent travels to London and Wales this past month, I realized how very UN-pretentiously they take their tea. They still drown it in milk and sugar without so much as a gasp. Many housewives will not really know what "type" of tea it is...and more often than not, you will get a tea bag -- just like you would in Elmira, NY (or insert hometown of choice).
At most I met a chap who was firm about not liking Earl Grey, but was not much informed on what he did like. As if, for the most part, all black tea was just that -- black tea.

It was refreshing that no one asked how long it was steeped, what grade or brand it was. Tea was just that: TEA. The simplicity was subtle but spoke to me quite loudly. I can't say in my humble travels across the countryside that I had marvelous tea, but the way in which it came across as part of the every day routine and not as an emphasized ritual or "personal time out" was poignant.

How do you stop a trend from being trendy? Make it an everyday part of your life.

Now THAT's Great!

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