Posted by: travelrat | November 17, 2016

Mainly, Tea.

teahouse-chengdu

I’ve been drinking a lot of tea lately. Mainly because instant coffee has started giving me a pain … literally. Nothing serious; nothing that a five-minute sit-down and a couple of belches won’t deal with, but I’d rather not have the condition in the first place. The good news is … ‘brewed’ coffee doesn’t seem to have that effect on me, so I can still enjoy my Americano when I’m out and about.

Now, I wasn’t all that keen on tea, either, until I went to China. The tea there is mainly green tea … they would give you a lidded container with leaves in it, and someone came round with a kettle of hot water and would top your brew up as often as you liked. You use the lid to keep the leaves in the cup. I really liked it, so green tea is now my tea of choice. Although the stuff I buy in the supermarket comes in tea-bag form, rather than the more traditional method of brewing, it’s still better than the usual black tea.

In the course of research into our upcoming South America trip, I came upon references to mate, which is described as a traditional South American drink, especially in Argentina, where it’s laid down by law as the National Drink. It’s made in a similar way to the Chinese green tea; yerba leaves are chopped up, and hot … not boiling … water is poured over them.

The brew is drunk through a special straw, with a sort of filter over the end so no particle of the leaves is sucked up with it. And, it can be topped up many times, until the leaves are ‘washed out’.

Traditionally, it’s served in a gourd or calabash, and shared between a group of friends. And that, I think, is the way to treat any hot drink. Or a cold one, or even an alcoholic one!

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