Friday, July 16, 2010

A Touch of the Earl

By Jess Hodges

In the world of tea there are literally hundreds of specific breakfast blends, all specially crafted to help you start the day. For me, though, they may as well not exist! As far as I'm concerned there is only one blend worth drinking in the morning, the one my dad used to make.

It's a simple concoction, easy to make yourself. Take one teapot, pour in a little boiling water and swirl to warm the pot before pouring away. Now add as many teabags as people who are drinking of your normal, favourite day time blend. Then, the crucial ingredient, add one Earl Grey tea bag and there you go.

My family are typical British tea drinkers, passionate about tea without being particularly bothered with the finer details. Having found a reliable tea bag that we all liked we stuck with it for everything.

We had our own 'blends,' though, based on the standard cuppa. A spoonful of sugar after a stressful day, a splash of whisky after getting caught out in the snow or a drop of honey when it was raining, iced with mint and fruit on those rare sunny days. There's a lot you can do with the humble tea bag and the fact that it's so inexpensive gives you the freedom to experiment without fear.

For me the Earl Grey breakfast tea is the best of all, giving a little hint of sophistication and, after years of association, the inevitable flavour of nostalgia. It inspires me to find more ways to alter the tea I drink, to make it special and personal.

It's so easy to infuse new flavours into a hot drink. Next time you're brewing yourself a quick cup why not dunk in a sprig of the nearest herb you can find, give it a stir with a cinnamon stick or add two different blend to the same pot? You never know what new traditions you might be starting.