So, one tradition that has passed down for generations in England is drinking tea. I mean people have tea at all times of day: afternoon tea, morning tea, after dinner tea (although I prefer milk & milo after dinner) but tea drinking is a very ritualistic thing in both England and Australia. (Obviously, because Australia is very much connected to England, more so then the United States who wanted to exert their independence clearly with very little connection or dependence). In honor of the tea drinking rituals (which I absolutely am in love with because they let me have a few minutes to relax during my day and to sit down and clear my head, maybe read something wonderful, get that sweet aroma coursing through my nostrils; all wonderful things) Australia has a few (maybe more then a few) tea houses around so people can go, sit by the fire (because it’s winter, and my favorite tea shop actually has a fire) and let their tea simmer over tea candles and surround them in atmosphere.
I think I love the tea rituals and culture so much in Australia because it has such a historical narrative, but it also has created rituals in countries where tea’s can actually define families etc. For example the book, “Three Cups of Tea” which doesn’t really have a whole lot to do with the tea aspect (other then three cups of tea means your part of the family after drinking with them in Pakistan and possibly surrounding countries) but it is a book about one man’s heroic journey to create schools in the most remote parts of Pakistan and that’s just one thing tea has done to promote peace.
I also really enjoy tea because it’s something that can be grown from the land. If all you have is wheat and grass, I’m sure you can come up with some kind of tea concoction. It doesn’t simply depend on certain roots, certain seeds, or certain plants, but can be created with almost anything in the area surrounding anyone’s home. I also like this because tea has a lot of herbal remedies surrounding it. In the back of the menu for my favorite tea shop it explains how a lot of different ingredients help with things like menstruation, PMS, arthritis, and even types of cancer. Probably my favorite is the idea that Rosebud tea is said to “add a spark to a woman’s beauty.”
I know you guys are probably sick of my ideas at this point, but tea is also available in most every country, and every country has their special specific teas that are grown from their own land. There’s something to be said for a product, plant, or drink that can transcend national and international boundaries and can bring people together who don’t even speak the same language.
One of my personal favorites is the Southern United States “sweet tea” which has now become a flavor of liquor also. Sweet tea is such a big deal to southern people, it’s like your entrance, (acceptance, hazing) into a southern community about whether or not you like sweet tea. Mother’s serve it at family functions, some people add sugar, and some people add lemon and then as soon as you hit the Carolina’s you get the unforgettable Bojangle’s sweet tea, which is free with any meal chosen. It’s just, the southern way I guess and as I learn more about the Australian ritual of tea, the more I appreciate our southern ritual of tea in North Carolina. Makes me feel at home in a foreign country, which is exactly what tea should do.
This past week, my friend Holly and I explored another part of Canberra (the stepford wife town of Gold Creek, which actually even has a “miniature shop” where everything in Canberra is made into a “miniature,” maybe next time we’ll find ourselves waiting for the bus in that shop) but we actually just went for tea, at my favorite tea house, Adore Tea.
Adore Tea has a really relaxing atmosphere (not to mention there’s a bead store next door and everyone knows I’m obsessed with making earrings) and it’s really casual and relaxing. They also serve a variety of desserts that are TO DIE FOR, including Pofferties which are mini-pancakes with ice cream no the side, OH MY GOOOOODNESS YUM YUM YUM. But, the tea is what we especially go for (and the flavored hot chocolate). This time I had chocolate Chai and Holly had something Evergreen, or velvet…it had roses and smelled scrumptious.
That’s not the only wonderful part of the shop, it’s serene. You’re surrounded by tea pots and over 200 different types of teas and all the walls and furniture are white. You go in, sit down and have time to look over the menu (which is extensive) and then they light little glass jars with tea candles in them and put your tea pot (four cups of tea about in each pot) on it’s little burner and let you enjoy. And it’s only 5$ for any tea (which is a bargain by Australian standards and for poor post-college students/explorers). I just love the atmosphere and the environment and I can’t wait to go back and just read a good book on the couch and write some solid tea poetry.
Oh, and I took a lot of pictures, for everyones convenience (as per usual).