April A to Z: T is for Tea #atozchallenge


By Niall McArdle

Mrs doyle

There are few things more identifiably Irish than the country`s love of a cup of tea. When I was a child we drank it morning, noon and night. I drank tea at breakfast. I drank tea when I came home from school. I drank tea at, er, tea. I drank more tea later in the evening watching telly. And I always had tea at bedtime.

We didn`t know anyone who drank coffee; in hindsight this was probably because at the time coffee in Ireland was shite. It was the case for many years that the Irish drank more tea per capita than anybody else; we have been overtaken in recent years by the Turks.

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There are of course many varieties of the delightful infusion, and many ways to serve and drink it. Some are very formal. If you visit Japan (especially if you go to the country`s cultural treasure, Kyoto), make sure you get to witness the traditional tea ceremony.

Irish Breakfast Tea (a blend of several black teas) is generally a bit stronger and blacker than its English and Scottish counterparts.

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Whether you drink Barry`s or Lyons, Darjeeling or Lapsang Souchong, bagged or loose, for the love of Lu Yu, please respect the tea leaves and make it in a pot. Never in a cup. Ever.

And always, always SCALD THE POT before you start. Fellow Irish expat Clare O`Dea has outlined some of the Crimes Against Tea that she has encountered living in Switzerland.

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If you`re in Dublin and would like afternoon tea, I would recommend either the Westbury or the Shelbourne. Afternoon tea at either is a pricey but beloved institution. The view from the Westbury affords the chance for some people-watching. The Shelbourne underwent a renovation a couple of years ago. It has lost some of its Victorian elegance (the hotel has wall to wall to wall marble: walking into it can feel like walking into an Italian mausoleum) .The Lord Mayor`s Lounge has managed to maintain its charm.

And for a wonderful history of tea and tea drinking, read The Book of Teatt-book-review-9-09.

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4 thoughts on “April A to Z: T is for Tea #atozchallenge

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