For those of you who know me, it’s probably very obvious why I named this blog Tea Stained Passports. I brainstormed quite a few names for this online space, and all of them had the same gist to them. However, for those of you who don’t know me personally (hi, thanks for reading!), let me explain…
Let’s get this straight: I absolutely adore tea. I drink it every single day without fail. I have mild withdrawal symptoms if I don’t (that’s not me being overdramatic, ask my friends), and have an overflowing supply separate to the one my parents keep in the kitchen cupboard.
Secondly, due to the amount of tea drinking, there are numerous tea stains on my desk, my windowsill, my bookcase- anywhere I can put a mug, there’s a stain there. It also doesn’t help that I spill tea on myself A LOT (but you’ll read more about that in another article).
And finally: I travel often and enjoy it massively. The majority of the places I have been to, and want to go to require a passport. When I travelled as a kid I even had a passport for my favourite teddy bear. So to be able to link two of my passions together (stamping tea stains isn’t something I do on purpose, never mind aspire to do), is almost like a dream come true.
Surprisingly, what brings these ideas together for me to write an article about it this week, is actually thanks to my Mom. For Christmas this year, she bought me a box of tea, with 48 teabags inside. Six boxes are included, with eight teabags each inspired by a different type of tea from another country. I was over the moon. Travel and tea!? What could be better?!
…Travelling abroad to taste the tea itself, of course.
But what if you can’t afford to go to Japan for a traditional matcha tea ceremony? What if you don’t have the time to jump on a plane to India to sip some spicy chai? Do you know of the bubble tea cafe to go to in Birmingham? Have you ever had the chance to se the Malaysian brewing performance of tehtarik in person?
So what do you do? You bring the tea to you.
There are hundreds if not thousands of online stores or local shops for you to buy tea from. In short: you don’t need to leave your town, city or country to experience the taste of another culture.
Firstly, start off by researching a particular tea you want to try. A few years ago, when I realised that there’s more tea out there than PG Tips, I became interested in peppermint tea. My dad had taken me and my sister into a cafe, and I wanted to try something new. It came on a small wooden platter: a teapot with an inbuilt tea infuser and a glass timer. Peppermint is known to give you an energising boost, a great eye-opener to clear away the dormant dew in the corners of your eyes. For me, it was an eye-opener into the ever-growing world of tea.
(Now I know, peppermint tea isn’t exactly the most adventurous variety of tea, but I think you understand the gist of the anecdote.)
After finding the particular tea you want to try, go out and buy some. Or even better: find somewhere where you can try it first, before buying it. A great place to try tea before you buy is T2 Tea. Here, you can ask the staff to sample some tea and watch them make it in front of you. Bear in mind that some types of tea need more than a kettle, however, you don’t need to buy the equipment commonly used to make it. There are definitely other ways around making a perfect cup of tea without buying that sparkly tea infuser or dazzling glass timer.
Then take that tea home, and get comfy. Sit down with a guide book for the place where the tea is from, with a friend or with an interesting Netflix series on travel. Drink the tea and experience it. There’s always a story behind a good cup of tea that can show you the rest of the world.