One of the things that you quickly notice when living among the British is that they very much enjoy their tea. In fact, drinking tea is almost always a necessary part of the day. Lectures are scheduled around morning tea, long meetings include a tea break at the halfway point, seminars are preceded by "tea and cakes," Bible study hosts offer tea, coffee, and water as the main options, and the list continues. However, I eventually realized that the Brits only drink ONE kind of tea. One of my English friends said, "no, we drink other kinds too! Just not very often...I think there's maybe a box of green tea way back in the cupboard with some dust on it...." I told him that did not count. English Breakfast tea is so much the standard that some people do not even realize that their tea HAS a specific name. Several of my friends used to think that the difference between white and black tea was whether or not you added milk.
Therefore, I decided to bring back many different varieties of tea from America as Christmas presents. I thought my friends might enjoy white tea or flavored teas as a change of pace. The list of teas that I brought back included:
White Tea (Vanilla Blend) - by Good Earth (my personal favorite! I cleared the store shelves of this kind so that I could have some left for myself)
White Tea with Peach - by Celestial Seasonings
White Tea with Mint - by Stash (entirely to give away - I hate mint in anything but toothpaste and gum)
Vanilla Almond Black Tea - by Republic of Tea
Cinnamon Plum Black Tea - by Republic of Tea
Red Chai - by Republic of Tea
Coconut Mango Oolong Tea - by Stash
White Peach Oolong Tea - by Stash
African Red Bush Tea (also known as rooibos tea) - by Tazo
I bought gift baskets, packed them with a mixture of teas, and then gave them to friends. However, I first had to get across the concept that drinking other kinds of tea might be as enjoyable or *gasp* even more enjoyable than drinking their standard black tea. I have yet to hear back from most of them, but one of them was over at my house when she tried white tea for the first time. I made the tea, put a dash of sugar in it, and handed it to her to try. After her first sip, her eyes went wide and she said, "oh my! This is absolutely gorgeous!" In British, that phrase means that something tastes really, really good. She then admitted, "you were going on about teas before you left for America, but I honestly didn't understand what all the fuss was about!" In addition, she informed me that she had been drinking quite a bit of tea at home, but it was the cheapest kind and didn't even have a proper name - the box just said, "black tea."
Needless to say, I loaded her up with a whole assortment of teas before she went home. The next time I saw her, she said, "I've really enjoyed your teas. I've been telling everyone about them! My friends, my family..." Welcome to the wonderful world of tea, my dear. :)
Score one for the American who taught the British something about tea! I'm working on converting them all, but it's slow going...