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One unexpected stop in London yesterday was The Tea House, near Covent Garden (15 Neal Street, WC2). Sarah and I were lured in because the shop was incredibly fragrant. The same can be said of the 150g of Chai which I purchased there, and which has markedly increased the pleasantness of the smell of my room, just by virtue of sitting there in its bag. Their licorice tea, which Sarah got and which we tried after dinner, was also quite good. The secret, I think, was keeping the level of tea flavour low enough that it complemented, rather than overwhelmed, the distinctive flavour of dried Camellia Sinsensis. There is also much to be said for a shop that unfailingly demonstrates a commitment to the fact that only drinks made with an infusion based on Camellia Sinsensis are deserving of the descriptor ‘tea.’ Rose hips and the like may taste good in boiled water, but they are not tea.

Frequently as I am accused of being a coffee addict, I confess to preferring the aesthetics of tea. Coffee is a working person’s drink – to be consumed out of big paper cups while walking purposefully down a sidewalk, or gulped down from a big mug during a coffee break. Tea is more versatile and, to my way of thinking, more relaxed. As such, a break focused on its consumption is more worthy of that title.

Such talk makes me think nostalgically back to the days of the Esteemed Afternoon Tea Society. For those unfamiliar with this most absurd and memorable of UBC clubs, see the Epic History and the Declaration of War (PDF), which formally began the life of the organization as a potent (and generally highly militant) force on campus.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous July 12, 2006 at 9:12 pm

I am sure you recall the brilliant Kids in the Hall sketch about tea addiction:

“Is it you… tea?!?”

Anonymous July 12, 2006 at 9:16 pm

Re: Sinensis

The term ‘herbal tea’ usually refers to infusions of fruit or herbs containing no actual tea leaves, for example rosehip tea or chamomile tea. Alternative terms for this are ’tisane’ or ‘herbal infusion.’

R.K. July 13, 2006 at 7:05 pm

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