{.quest for decent tea.}

by devourslowly

I just want a good cup of tea

I have been craving a cup of flavoursome fruit tea lately.  Having sworn off fruit tea in my student days I must admit I am quite out of touch with the range of flavours out there.  I spent the last few years drinking only coffee and Zarbo Earl Grey, and must admit that when it comes to sourcing fruit tea I feel like a complete novice.

My recent attempts at reintroducing myself to fruit tea have met with some rather sad results.  I wish there is a Sancho to my Don Quixote guiding me through my various fruit tea mishaps.

Tea is apparently meant to calm you

The problems with fruit tea is that the packaging always look so enticing and wholesome, promising good drinking, good health and good life.  The result is often far off the point.  There is nothing more depressing than eagerly getting into a new package of tea only to find that you dislike the flavour upon the first pot – you are then left with a whole lot of so-so tea to drink up.

Straight away you think to yourself, I wonder who I can invite over to serve this mediocre tea?  Very quickly you form a mental list of so-so friends who only deserve so-so tea from you.  Drafting an invite to these people is no easy feat – you want to sound enthusiastic of their company but not too disingenuous as you are sure they are as apathetic towards you as you are to them.  You finally settled on a date and time (the whole time resentful of their acceptance to your invite because that means giving up your precious time for crocheting or some such) after countless email negotiations, each party attempting to show that they are more busy (and popular) than they actually are.

The night before, you panic.  I can’t just serve these so-so friends so-so tea!  What will they think of me? There has to be cake, biscuits and a rotisserie chicken to show off your good housekeeping skills.  So you stay up all night getting the food ready and scrubbing the flat until it is pristine beyond comprehension.  Then the dreaded day arrives.  The whole time your partner scolds you for wasting your time and HIS.  He could be playing cricket or enjoying a cold beer with his swag of smashing friends.  Instead he is at home spending time with your wet-blanket-friends.  You ignore his whining and ask him to pick up the crumbs from his biscuit and to stop eating the cookie dough – they are for your guests.  He rolls his eyes.

The so-sos arrive.  A customary kiss on the cheek feels almost artificial but you must keep up with the pretense.  They comment on your lovely home and you quickly apologise for the state of disarray and put it down to not having time to clean.  Then triumphantly you remember the last time you visited their house and witnessed REAL disarray.  Self:1 So-sos: 0.

You put the kettle on and open that packet of so-so tea.  Two teabags for four?  No, make it three, we will get rid of the teabags faster this way.  Your guest are seated.  Again they compliment on the spread you put on with insincerity.  The cheek!  In goes the fourth teabag.  No matter, they are here serving a function.

You then spend the next hour or so serving tea and cookies, urging the so-sos to help themselves and not be shy.  This is the only task you can concentrate on as conversation with them is awfully dry.  Not entirely willingly.  The whole time you find yourself mentally calculating the pecuniary set-back of having them at your table with great resentment.  All these while your partner nudges you under the table to show his contempt.  Get rid of them, his cold stares convey.  A few more moments, I have to gracefully show interest in their latest enterprises and subtly show off mine.  He makes a mental note to speak to you about your Queen Bee syndrome at a more appropriate time.

FINALLY the so-sos stand up to leave.  They are going to the pictures for the latest installment of Twilight.  Twilight?!  You think to yourself, Is that the best you can do?!  As they stood up they say That is lovely tea.  Your heart seizes momentarily, Is that sarcasm I detect?  Have they seen through my ploy?  No, it cannot be.  I am a brilliant actor and surely they are not as smart as I give them credit for. You smile graciously and return the compliment by inviting them to come back soon.  All the time your partner mentally kicks you for your big mouth.

As they make their exit you cannot help but feel the chasm of social triumph right up against the crashing dissapointment that you just wasted a perfectly good Sunday afternoon.  All for the sake of four teabags.

and there is all that cleaning up to do!

So in serving my function as a good Samaritan and to help my readers avoid the above scenario (which really is more common than one cares to admit), I will be sharing my fruit tea saga in the coming weeks.  The process will be long and tedious at times as I will have to pretty much live on fruit tea and drink it constantly in order to replenish my supply with new teas.

Here is a list of what I have come across so far:


White and Fruity Tea - second from the right

Technically not a fruit tea as such.  It is really a indecisive white tea – too much of an elitist to be just a fruit tea and too insecure to be just a white tea.

No matter.  It is not bad though.  You get the berry aroma without the sour aftertaste.  A definite plus in my books as the dreaded aftertaste was the reason why I gave up fruit tea in the first place.

This is an organic fairtrade tea – yummy and socially conscientious – brilliant!

But in all fairness I cannot wholeheartedly endorse the Qi White and Fruity Tea as it is really white tea, NOT fruit tea.


Hampstead Tea and Coffee tea range

Organic fairtrade continues to be the flavour of the month.  I think I am suppose to stomach the tea better knowing that it is made by well paid farmers.

The packaging is attractive in a I-don’t-quite-know-why-I-should-like-this-but-it-looks-like-something-I-should-like.  It is the sort of tea that makes you feel superior than your fellow shoppers when you put it in your basket with calculated careless abandon.  Oh this little thing, it is nothing really – we drink this all the time.

That is pretty much the only praises I care to give the tea I am afraid.  Lemon and valerian my foot.  I taste neither citrus nor herb.  It is like flavoured water.  As to what flavour I really do not know.

Let’s put it this way, if I ever serve you Hampstead lemon valerian tea, you will know where you stand in my books.