It's all tea to me

>> Saturday, 6 October 2007

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If you visit the Caribbean and ask for tea, you’d better be clear on what kind of tea you want because whether it’s coffee, Milo, Ovaltine, cocoa, chocolate, Horlicks or traditional tea, we call all of it tea! In fact, to differentiate you might hear us say coffee-tea, Milo-tea, cocoa tea or even tea-tea :)

I think most of us would fail George Orwell’s 11 rules for making tea, miserably, but, as you can read in This week’s column, we all have our own rules when it comes to tea. Click here if you’d like to read it now. If not let’s get down to talking about the pictures in this post.

These loose tea leaves are what I grew up drinking before mom made the switch to tea bags. The brand we used was Red Rose. I liked this tea for its strength. I drank it strong and black. My favourite food to eat with this tea is eggplant choka and sada roti.

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Every evening my Aunt Betty used to make tea for her family to have with their evening meal. Whenever I’d visit, I used to stand and watch her cool the tea before serving. She'd take a large cup, in each hand and pour the tea from one cup to the other, alternately raising each hand at shoulder length. She was so skillful at this, not a drop of tea spilled.

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When I drink tea, I like to have a large, proper cup of tea, so no tea cup and saucer for me, I have a big coffee mug. When you're finished, you’re totally satisfied. :D

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Another thing I like to have with tea for a late breakfast is plantain and eggs.

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Alright, alright, let me move the tea out of the way so you can see the plantain and eggs properly! (lol)

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These days, Lipton’s is my favourite. When I first came to Barbados, I got hooked of Earl Grey, thanks to my buddy, Susan. I’m not a coffee lover and only have it twice a year, if that many times. If I was to ever get hooked on coffee, it would always have to be freshly ground. Man! That aroma really gets to you.

Drinking Milo was always an evening event. Mommy said that Milo makes you sleepy so it is better to have it a night. I swear I don’t know where she comes up with these things. Do the women in your family have these little quirks about stuff too? Ovaltine was another of those only-drink-in-the-evenings hot beverage.

Here in this corner of the world, you will hear people talking about bush tea (tea made from the dried leaves of various fruits and vegetable trees and plants). You can read about it in the column.

So bush at some point could consist of any or all of the following:

Bay-leaf tea – have you ever had it? Boil it with a piece of cinnamon and sweeten with a little sugar and a splash of milk, it is indescribably good. Actually, just yesterday as I was making some, a technician from the telephone company had come by to check out the ADSL line. The aroma of the bay leaves and cinnamon stick boiling enveloped the kitchen and the study which is not far off. Mid-sentence the technician remarked, “You have a nice kitchen.” I turned to look at the kitchen and thought, “Hmmmm doesn’t look outstanding in anyway for someone to comment.” And then I found myself saying, “I’m boiling bay leaves and cinnamon for tea.” He smiled broadly, “Yeah, that’s what I mean.”

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This lemon grass (aka fever grass) tea is to die for. Seriously. Well, I know most if not all of you know how aromatic lemon grass is so you can just imagine how heavenly the tea is. You’ve got to try making it if you’ve never had it.

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Now I want you to look at this picture carefully and tell me if you can identify the leaves/plant. I found this bush-herb at the market a couple of weeks ago, it has a high, complex lemon scent. I asked the vendor selling what it is but he is not sure, he said lemon balm but it’s not. So, I’m hoping someone will recognize it and tell me what it is.

Just like the lemon grass, it makes a great tea and is even better as iced tea.

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And finally, cocoa tea. Trust me, you’ve never had cocoa tea like this, this is the real thing. Click here to see how it is made and click here to see how sophisticated and prized it is. St. Vincent and the Grenadines and St. Lucia are known for making high quality cocoa sticks.

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Thanks to her Barbadian friends, my mom introduced us to this high-quality cocoa-tea. It’s made by adding bay leaves and cinnamon stick to it. Some people serve it with a light dusting of nutmeg also. Here is the recipe as made by the St. Lucians. The only thing we never added was the corn starch.

It is said that cocoa sticks are suitable for vegans and vegetarians; it’s gluten free and alcohol free.

Yeah, you’re seeing right, it is served in the ole-time style, a big enamel cup! (lol)

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And then sometimes, you just want it dressed up with marshmallows :)

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I know, I know, I said finally but I meant as it relates to the tea stuff :)

Have you heard about CLICK? It’s a new photography blog event being hosted by the dynamic duo, Bee & Jai of Jugalbandi. Read all about it here and get clicking! This event is going to be so much fun!

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Here is my entry. This is one of my preferred ways to have eggs, fried in hot oil to make the edges and the bottom crisp, the white firm yet soft and the yolk, cuddled. A sprinkle of good sea salt with slivers of green chili for heat and a kick.

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This photograph was taken with a Canon EOS 300D Digital camera. Lens: 18-55mm. It was taken at around 4 p.m. in a naturally lit room, bright but a little cloudy on the outside. The background is a black plate. Why I like it? Because I wish I could munch on the crunchy edges :) On a serious note, I like it for the lighting.

And that’s it for this week folks! I’ll be away for a week beginning this Wednesday but will still post next week Saturday, that’s all I’ll be able to do but I promise to catch up with your posts upon my return the following week.

Have a good one everybody.

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