Monday, 4 July 2011

Time to whip out the teapot?

I have always drunk both tea and coffee - one of my earliest memories is of being given 'tea' first thing in the morning - basically warm milk that had had a teabag dipped in it for a few seconds.

I went through a phase in my early twenties where I had quite a collection of loose leaf teas and used to brew them properly, but fell out of the habit. Tea drinking holds a special place in British culture (according to Wikipedia we have the joint second highest consumption in the world at 2kg per person per year - assuming there are 3g of tea in a teabag, that's roughly 666.666667 odd cups) - but like most things that have become cheaper and more convenient, we have paid it less and less respect. Some of the big main brands are just plain awful; and yet at work I have supped them mindlessly anyway. Sitting down for a cuppa is something that I know my nan did; and my great nan and my great great nan... and that is quite comforting. I doubt I will ever give up the caffeine entirely, but I would like to cut back and start treating it with the respect it deserves.

Every morning now one of us gets up and brews a cafetiere of coffee, which sets us up for the day. We stopped using instant coffee about two years ago as we found most of the instant fairtrade coffees didn't taste that good and were quite expensive. This has actually turned out to be more frugal and healthier for us, because we drink less coffee - one or two cups a day, as opposed to four or five - but what we do drink is better quality. There is something grounding about boiling the water, waiting for the whistle of the kettle, pottering around the kitchen whilst waiting for it to brew, before finally sitting down with a cup to drink. Our tea on the other hand is generally the bagged variety brewed in the mug. The mornings that we choose to have a quick cup of tea don't feel quite so...peaceful.  As a result, the coffee is generally winning out.

Last week I was in the shop where we buy our tea and coffee and they had a display of their fairtrade products. The bagged tea and loose leaf tea were sat next to each other and surprisingly, the shelf labels gave a price per 100g for both products. The loose leaf tea was about ten percent cheaper than the bagged variety - and of course, because it has room to properly unfurl and stew when loose in a pot, you actually need less than is packed into one teabag to brew a decent cup of tea. The loose leaf variety also removes an extra layer of processing and packaging which can only be a good thing, surely?

I have dusted off the teapot and will be buying a box of  loose leaf tea when our current store runs out. Does anyone else use loose leaf tea? Or a teapot? Does it work out cheaper?


  1. I gave up coffee several months ago now (except the odd cup of coffee & chicory, or decaf) and in turn, took up the drinking of way more tea! I have my 'regular' Aussie grown Earl Grey teabags, but for a treat a few times a week, I like a Creme Brulee or Vanilla loose leaf tea... and have not been able to find a Fairtrade variety. I am ashamed to say I went into one of the trendy tea shops here and was suckered into the fancy flavoured black teas and fancy individual strainer cups. However, all is not lost, I recently came across an Aussie company now doing organic & FT tea selections, who will make me a Vanilla Black Tea!! Yeah!! Problem now is, yes, I often would like a second cup, so I must find a lovely vintage teapot somewhere (or be really frugal, and make a second cup from the same leaves, like I am doing at the moment, trying to make up for buying non-FT tea!)

    I like the ritual of making tea, as much as the drinking of it. It's a guilt-free 10 minutes of mummy-time, that often involves reading my favourite blogs at the same time... and that's probably why I want a second cup, because the number of blogs I read is increasing beyond 10 minutes!!

  2. Creme Brulee Tea sounds interesting!

    We have a tea 'boutique' in a nearby city that sells speciality mixes - whilst it was lethal for the budget they were fairtrade and it was quite interesting to experience all the different flavours. But in the end we bought too much and never got around to drinking most of it.

    Thank you, you have reminded me I need to buy a tea strainer!

  3. Hi Aurora. Just stumbled across your blog through the co-op. I've just started having loose-leaf tea as my regular morning brew this year. I used to get it out when we had company, but this year I decided that I deserved special tea for me too. I'm not sure on the price savings, as I'm buying fair-trade, organic tea now, but the delicousness factor sure is worth it! And I love the slow-down that waiting for tea to brew brings. I always seem to take the time to look out the window at my garden, hear the birds, smell the air... Tea is magical!

  4. Thank you for dropping by! Its funny all the little rituals that humans have come up with to ground us in our days isn't it? Hot beverages seem to be a particular theme around the world.We have about ten teabags left to go, after that I will be back to the loose-leaf. Can't wait!