For someone who is an anglophile, tea is serious business. There are certain ways we like our tea. Some amongst us find it horrific to watch someone put milk in their Earl Grey. Others amongst us have been to Britain and know it’s common practice to put milk in Earl Grey and just accept us. Me? I prefer my Earl Grey in a tea latte otherwise known as a London Fog, sometimes with a bit of honey added. Tea companies are analyzed and examined, tea tried again and again. It’s entirely central.
Because whether you’re a huge anglophile or you’ve grown up in a house that is seemingly steeped in the stuff, tea is everywhere.
For me, hot beverages in general are very central to my way of living. There is something about making a hot beverage for a house guest, customer, or for yourself that is welcoming and relaxing. It provides a space of calm and a moment of peace. Whether you’re handing a cup of coffee to a brusk customer who hasn’t woken up yet or you’re making a cup of tea for a friend who is upset, it gives a small moment of relief.
The most stressful day at work can be momentarily escaped by putting mug to lips and savoring the tasteful combination of ginger and peach as they combine their steeped flavors in hot water.
A warm cup of peppermint tea before bed can have a soothing effect to match the escaped relaxation of sitting on the couch, curled in a blanket, and reading a novel of choice.
This effect in and of itself has drawn me to look at the social effects tea has had on our society, and that education has started with A Social History of Tea: Tea’s Influence on Commerce, Culture & Community by Jane Pettigrew and Bruce Richardson. A whole section of this book talks about the tea habits of Thomas Jefferson among other people. “During his 1790-91 stay in Philadelphia, Jefferson seems to have preferred Imperial tea. Hyson, another one of the teas tossed overboard in Boston, is also mentioned as a favorite” (pg. 47). My reading of this fortunately coincided quite nicely with a visit to Colonial Williamsburg, where both Hyson and Bohea are for sale in the packaged food shops.
While I did not try the Hyson (something I am partially regretting now, though not as much as I might be considering it did not come in an air tight cannister like the Bohea), the Bohea was an experience. If you like lapsang souchong, but would prefer it a little less intense, the Bohea can fill that gap. It smells just as smokey, but the flavor isn’t near as overwhelming.