English High Tea
Exploring Tea in Indonesia
From Iced Tea in the States...
Where I come from we drink iced tea. From as early as I can remember, every family gathering would have iced tea, and to this day, it's not a family dinner without iced tea. Some things have changed about the way we make it, but for the most part the ritual goes like this: my mom boils a pitcher of water, tosses in 5-6 bags of Lipton (a black tea variety) tea bags, and lays a tea towel over the top of the pitcher for the tea to brew. After 10-15 minutes she pours the concentrated tea into a larger glass pitcher, adds ice and water. If you are from the states and are reading this, you can tell right away that I am not from the southern states! We don't drink our tea with sugar. My dad adds honey to his and one of my brothers adds sugar, but the rest of us drink it unsweet.
As I have traveled over the years, my tea experiences abroad have been quite different than home. The two experiences I remember most are the Moroccan tea I had in Granada (Spain), and the tea from cocaine leaves I had in Cusco (Peru).
To Moroccan Tea in Spain...
During my four months in Spain, I tried to make it a point to visit as many cities besides Madrid as possible. One such trip near the end of my stay was a speedy day-trip to Granada. I must say, had I not studied in Madrid, Granada would have made a wonderful second choice. Islamic culture permeates the entire south and makes for a vibrant blend of food, drink, people and architecture.
My friend and I took a very early train to Granada on a weekend morning and came back that same night, so the trip was a blur, but what stands out to me most from the trip is our visit to the majestic Islamic palace, La Alhambra, and our quaint visit to a Moroccan tea house.
La Alhambra overlooks the beautiful mountain villages called las Alpujarras that nestle themselves amidst the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Once we were done soaking in the majesty of the mountains and architecture of the palace, we stopped over at a Moroccan tea house to meet with my friend's friend who had chosen to study in Granada that semester instead of Madrid. If you don't know, Spain borders Morocco just to the south, and so the Islamic influence is strongest in the south where we were. Surrounded by the dark woods, arched doorways, and colorful mosaics we enjoyed a steaming hot cup of mint tea. What I remember most about the tea is how hot it was, how sweet it was, and how they serve it by pouring the tea into the cups from a very high distance. The picture below from Kid World Citizen shows the traditional way the tea is served, and you can head over there to get a recipe for making your own at home! You can also see other pictures there of how it's poured and an explanation of why.
|Learn How to Make Moroccan Tea Here|
When traveling to the Andes mountains in Peru, you won't escape either hearing about, or experiencing altitude sickness. One of the signature, and natural, remedies for altitude sickness is the mate de coca or tea made from cocaine leaves. The coca plant, native to Peru, has been used throughout history for its medicinal purposes. I must admit, upon hearing about the tea I was a little nervous to try it. But it is served everywhere, and upon arriving at my host family's house in Cusco, a cup was immediately prepared for me along with an order to take a nap. When someone hands you a cup of tea and says, "Drink! Nap!" you can't really argue with that. So I obliged. To me the tea tasted just like any other herbal tea. Supposedly it helps speed your heart rate up to ensure that you get enough oxygen to your brain in the high altitude. Whatever it does, it worked. I didn't experience any sickness adjusting to the 11, 152 feet of altitude.