TEA AND CEREMONY – Marilyn Armstrong

For Rashmi Kashyap – I miss you and hope you are well.


I don’t remember exactly when, I mentioned in a post how difficult it is to get good tea in the U.S. It isn’t impossible. If you have sufficient resources, you can get anything.

Ordinary folk are limited to local shops and the ubiquitous Internet. The problem is not that tea is unavailable. It is high quality fresh tea which is very hard to find. By the time we get it, it’s old. Tired. Teabag tea is not tea. I’m not sure what it is.

tea pot, tea canister, tea

I’m sure there are sources for better tea, especially in cities which are home to large Asian communities. But not here. Out here, a lot of stuff isn’t on sale anywhere. Thus the Internet!

We won’t starve. Beef, chicken, some fish. If you want something more exotic and need items to make Asian cuisine, those are rare. For years, I couldn’t even find matzoh meal, which I never considered remotely exotic. Perhaps I am exotic.

We live in the country. Rural. On the plus side, we are blessed — in season — with fresh produce from local farms. Milk comes from cows who graze in green pastures and sleep contentedly in the shade on warm summer days. Eggs are laid by chickens who wander about, pecking and clucking. They don’t know how lucky they are.

glass teapot

We’ve got horses, goats, and the occasional llama … but fresh tea? Rice other than Carolina long grain? Spices? Fresh curry powder? Light or medium soy sauce?

It’s no wonder Americans are not tea drinkers considering the tasteless dust which passes for tea. I’m pretty sure our local Chinese restaurants (there are not many of them) make tea made from teabags in the kitchen. The only good tea I’ve had in years is the green tea at a Japanese restaurant.

tea in teapot

The miracles wrought by the Internet are not limited to exchanging email and reading each others’ blogs. Rashmi Kashyap heard the yearning in my post. Last week, a package arrived from far away India.

Wrapped carefully in fabric, packed for its long journey around the world. Tea. Fresh, beautiful tea. Not the dry, old stuff you get here or even online, but tea so young it can remember growing in the earth.

teapot and canister

I have a big earthenware teapot and made a pot that same night. It was amazing. Garry admitted he had never tasted tea like that. It was a different experience.

I needed a smaller, brewing teapot suitable for a couple. I have owned several over the years, but since coming back from Israel, it has seemed pointless. Now, though, I have a reason.

brewed tea in glass teapot

Amazon to the rescue. One glass, brewing teapot, perfect for two people. A small canister to store the tea, seal out light and seal in freshness. A tea measuring spoon because (blush) I don’t remember how to measure tea anymore. After 33 years in the U.S., I can’t think metric.  I thought I couldn’t forget. I was wrong.

It took a couple of days to get my teapot and other things. Finally, I could properly serve tea.

It is a soul-enriching experience. Tea in the evening. A couple of crispy things on the side. Garry drank three cups (they are little cups, tea cups) as did I.

I thank my friend on the other side of the word with each sip. I cannot begin to express my gratitude. Maybe this post will help.

15 thoughts on “TEA AND CEREMONY – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. Being a Brit I grew up with tea, but never really liked it. In later years I had to adjust as I cannot digest coffee, or is it the milk. In our home town there is a special tea shop at one of the gardening stores: various sorts and original leaves. For the sake of simplicity, i am a Twinings fan. The bags are OK, no problem, so give me an English breakfast tea any time

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    1. The freshness of the tea depends on where you live. Tea anywhere in Europe is a lot fresher than it is by the time it gets here. And getting loose tea, which I like, is nearly impossible. I like tea. I like coffee better, but I don’t NOT like tea. If I had to make the switch, I’d complain, but I’d cope. I’ve already had to give up tomatoes and that was not easy. I also had to give up orange juice. I live in hopes that in a few years, I will still have something left I CAN eat.

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  2. What a wonderful gift — something only a European or Indian would think to send. I have to laugh — my English-born mother was adamant about how to make tea, with two pots. She also could not get curry powder that was hot enough, so made her own (I may have the recipe — it’s an all day project, but if you’d like it, I’ll see if I can find it for you).

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  3. It was too hot for me — and I think it turned me away from any hot flavors! My mother made two curries for most of our childhoods — one hot enough for her, and one with store curry powder for the rest of us!

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  4. A lovely gift, and definitely one worth buying a new pot for. I’m a lapsed tea drinker, mainly because I couldn’t stand the muck that was generally available here. But in the last couple of years tea has had a revival in NZ and finally I can buy teas; green and black, worth drinking.

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      1. We actually have a tea plantation in NZ. I haven’t tried their tea yet, but it’s only a couple of hours drive away so I guess at least it would be fresh.

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  5. That is absolutely lovely. And you’ve pointed out why tea isn’t popular here. Myself? I make do with English Breakfast, which I discovered in Canada and have been mildly addicted to ever since. But I BET it’s nothing compared to what you are privileged to sip. And yes, green tea in a Japanese restaurant is divine.

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    1. I love green tea and in the winter, it’s my nighttime hot beverage, unless I’m ready to go into sugar overload with hot chocolate. But the sweetness is just too much for me most of the time and I drink tea without any sugar because I just like the way it tastes. Tea is good — if the TEA is good.

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