I'm not a coffee drinker. I don't know why. Everyone else in my family drinks coffee, my friends drink coffee, practically everyone in my office drinks coffee, but I've never liked it. I just find it intensely bitter, no matter how it's brewed, so I live my life sans coffee.
But that doesn't mean I live a caffeine-free life, no indeed. For most of the year, I keep a large pitcher of tea in the refrigerator. If I were truly Southern, it would be sweet tea, but I like my tea straight up, no sugar, no ice.
I started drinking tea around my eleventh birthday, when my family was on a trip to Sri Lanka (aka Ceylon). Sri Lanka is a major exporter of tea, and I remember hills covered with tea; the countryside looked had been upholstered in green corduroy. It's also a country where the water is unsafe to drink unless it's boiled, so the best option is tea.
|Fairlawn tea estate - Sri Lanka|
I read a book about a year ago about how the British East India Company stole the secret of tea making from the Chinese. And I do mean stole. They paid an enterprising Scot, with the wonderful name of Robert Fortune, to go to China, learn how tea was made and bring back as many seeds or plants as he could. China was the only source of tea at the time, so this was the Victorian equivalent of industrial espionage. It was also a dangerous trip, because Europeans were not allowed in mainland China at the time. If he was caught, he could reasonably expect to be executed just for being there.
Happily, Fortune was well named. He managed to get out of China alive, with a lot of tea plants. He had also found out that the Chinese had been dying the green tea for Western markets. Europeans, not knowing what tea was, thought that if it was called green tea, it should actually be green, and would pay more for it if it was. Unfortunately, the chemicals the Chinese were using were poisonous. To this day, the English prefer black tea.
This past week the weather has turned cold, so I will be putting my ice tea pitcher into retirement, and getting out the teapot. Cheers!