Saturday, March 17, 2007

A Nice Cuppa

It's just one of those mornings where I was going about doing stuff and something was missing and then it struck me: oooh, how about a nice cuppa! I gave up caffeine about a year ago, but this was not by choice. It seemed I had developed a very powerful addiction to caffeine. I wasn't in the habit of having tea or coffee first thing in the morning, but if I hadn't had any by mid-afternoon, I was in big trouble: splitting headaches, nausea - horrible! So I decided to give it up entirely and ended up in bed, when I wasn't being sick, for two days. That was rough, but I wasn't going back.

I love tea: its golden colour, its fine fragrance, the ritual around making and sipping it and how it makes me feel good. I had to investigate a caffeine-free alternative. I had been very lucky a couple of years ago to have had a tea-tasting given to me for Christmas by Dave and Mario. At their home that spring, with James and Laura, we learned about tea from Catherine Lashko of The Tea Leaf in the Beaches. She showed us several types of tea. The one that captivated me the most was rooibos. Rooibos is Afrikaans for "red bush", and is not from the tea family, but from a legume plant. It's high in antioxidants, low in tannins (you can leave it to brew endlessly and it never gets bitter) and is lovely hot, warm and even cold. Its mild, tobacco-ey, herbal taste is slightly sweet, so it became my drink of choice last summer when I would brew a lot the night before and leave a large jug of it in the fridge to chill for the next day.

When I want regular tea, I have found that Stash's decaffeinated Earl Grey really flavourful despite being caffeine-free. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

I'm not a collector of anything and I don't like accumulating too much stuff. Well, okay, I have too many books, double-stacked, etc. and have a lot of mugs and quite a few tea cups and saucers (not in a set, I just buy them when I find ones I like, usually in antique stores). A cup or mug might be dark on the outside, but I only drink tea out of it if the inside is white or at least very pale. Seeing the lovely colour is reassuring that the tea is brewed well and from good leaves. The flaring of a wide cup is ideal as the aroma is carried up to the nose easily.

Regarding the photograph above:

1. My favourite mug. It says "I care this much" under the image. I used to hold it up in front of my face during meetings at work, but then had to explain the joke (as usual, as I'm not good with jokes), so it lost some impact! Hee hee.

2. My favourite cup and saucer. The porcelain is very thin and tea tastes wonderful out of it.

3. This mug was given to me by Dave and Mario, the saucepots! I don't drink tea out of it as it's black, but will have soup from it.

4. A Chinese teapot with a mesh basket just under the lid. This is where I brew my rooibos. It's a delightful pot and the little matching cups are very sweet. I bought it in Montreal's Chinatown last year.


Saucepot said...

I must thank Ginny for introducing me to Rooibos. Prior to consuming you MUST experience and appreciate the fragrance. The flavour is unique and it goes down oh so smoothly. Sip and savour each mouthful. For some unknown reason, you may wish to have a cigarette afterwards.

Saucepot said...

I'd highly recommend The Tea Emporium. Downtown location is in 1st Canadian Place, street level closest to Bay Street entrance. Besides various flavours of rooibos, they have a wide selection of teas from around the world.

Ra Ra said...

So many kinds of tea to enjoy!

I like darjeeling, English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Rosehip and Hibiscus, Chamomile, Mint, name a few.

I once bought a little crate of Earl Grey from some quaint monks, who are situated in a Russian Orthodox monastery on Vashon Island, off the coast of Seattle in the Pacific Northwest:

Unfortunately, they no longer sell tea. Only coffee, with cute names like "Deacon's Decaf" and "The Promised Blend".

I enjoy the fruit flavoured teas, recent examples include a fine blueberry tea. Once, I bought maple flavour tea, it's fragrance was divine.

I should buy that again.

Ra Ra said...

A little off the topic of tea, but still in the 'drinks' category. Some factoids I came across. I was just perusing the new Coca Cola Annual Report, and a hefty tome it is. Forget AIDS in Africa...let's talk Coca Cola in Africa. Listen to this:

"The Coca-Cola system is the largest consumer goods provider in Africa..."

---Alex Cummings, President, Africa.

There is a map on the same page, which shows the "Top 11 Priority Markets" on the continent. And they are:

South Africa

-The Coca-Cola system in Africa is the largest private sector employer, with 55,000 associates.

-"In Africa, we serve our consumemrs through an incredibly diverse range of customer outlets---from urban restaurants to roadside bicycles. Our motto everywhere: Keep our beverages affordable, available and cold."

-Annual Report

(Now a personal note from Ange: During one of the coldest evenings this past February, the craving for a Coke seized me and there was nothing to do for it but give in. I went to the corner store and picked up a bottle, and drank it while standing in the backyard, on an absolutely frigid night. The cold drink, and the glacial outside temperature were a fantastic combination!)

Blog Princess G said...

AND... while we're on the subject, what in sam Hell does "sam Hell mean? I shall consult the urban dictionary.

Blog Princess G said...

What in sam Hell is a comment on Coke doing here? Yes, I too was once a lost soul to the vile drink, but honestly... as for loitering in your backyard guzzling the poisonous brew, I have called for the ambucopter which should be landing any moment now on the roof of your building.

Ra Ra said...

Blog Princess, do not put words in my mouth! I did not say "my backyard", I said "the backyard", in my comment.

I don't have anything so mundane as a backyard. I live in a pied-a-terre and I have a terrace, from which I can spot the polizia coming to get me from five blocks away. That is why I make my getaway and have the last laugh.

Further, from said terrace I stand at the railing and sip my campari cocktail as the sun goes down. I look out and enjoy the view of the ancient city, and the sea beyond.

In fact, the backyard I was referring to in my comment belongs to someone else. Yes, a city-dwelling gentleman. In my haste I said backyard but I should have said "grounds" as its a good size, encompassing the tennis court, the gazebo, the pergola, the rockery, the pool, the cabana, the espaliered orchard and the copse of Carolinian forest.

Oodles of Toodles,
Ra Ra

Blog Princess G said...

I'd ease up on the Coke if I were you. Is that with a capital "C"?