It’s tea time

Sherri Gardner HowellFarragut, Feature

My husband and I have been traveling in Europe for a couple of weeks, and I am coming home a radicalized tea drinker.

I started drinking hot tea after my second child was born. I was a high-octane coffee drinker before, but found after being off of coffee for 8 months, the taste for it never came back. I still wanted something warm in the mornings, so I tried Earl Grey with lemon and sugar and fell in love.

For 30-plus years I have suffered greatly the weird looks at restaurants, the crazy ways hot tea is served and the insistence that I still need “something to drink with my meal.” The water usually alternates between being too hot to drink or too cold for the tea to brew.

Surprisingly, Starbucks helped catch the restaurants up and many now offer boxes where you can choose your tea bag or even a loose tea press to brew at the table.

For every two “enlightened” restaurants, however, there is one that heats the iced tea in a microwave in the back and brings it to the table.

In Europe, I have found my people! The water is always at just the right temperature for brewing and drinking when the three minutes brew time is complete. It is always “real tea,” i.e. black tea, unless you request  something else. I do usually have to ask for sugar, but the lemon and milk, which I don’t use, are automatic accompaniments.

And you ALWAYS get “a biscuit.” What kind of biscuit depends entirely on the whim of the restaurant. I have had everything from a biscotti to a piece of nougat candy to a sugared waffle cookie with honey sandwiched between the layers.

Doesn’t matter. It is hot  tea and a cookie. It is like a cold Budweiser on a July day with a bag of pork rinds. Now excuse me. I have one more day in Amsterdam, and I need to go get a cuppa…


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