London Tea Journal - Part 1

London, England is famous for its tea culture.  The British always have tea around – it’s always an option on every menu!  One of the many things that I love about tea is the cultural experience which accompanies this magical elixir.

Although the British have a very different culture of tea compared with the traditional and modern permutations of the Gong Fu Cha that Alyson and I have been delving into, they, the Chinese and I’d include most tea drinkers in this as well, share a few basic similarities.  Tea is an important part of social life for those of us who enjoy it on a regular basis.  People gather around tea to talk, compare notes and relax.  The experience of sipping and slurping is more than just the physical act, it is a lifestyle, a way of connecting with others and a way of reconnecting with that inner calm that can seem to flutter away into frenzied activity every once in a while when we are busy, stressed or feeling unwell.  There is so much beauty in the simplicity of a steeped beverage.

I have had all sorts of truly spectacular experiences here in London that have made me feel all sorts of different emotions – confusion, elation, contentment, a bit of fear to be honest (the unfamiliar sounds, sights and smells of the big city) and sometimes an overwhelming sense of wonder.  As I am travelling alone, my constant companion has been tea of various descriptions and qualities.  I have tried anything and everything that has come my way: cheap blacks, sweet-smelling herbals (I know technically that's not "tea" but I'll include it here anyway), blends of various descriptions, a free sample of instant tea (I didn’t even know that existed – it was good, but I wouldn’t buy it myself) and some gorgeous Chinese puer.  I did the math and figure that I had tea five times within a twelve-hour period the other day without even thinking about it (and they were all different kinds too).  I was well-hydrated that day, for sure.  I also turned to tea as a pick-me-up after I got totally soaked during the Pageant on the Thames during the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Celebrations.  Nothing like a good cuppa to regroup and warm you up from the inside out. 

I've had such an amazing time exploring my relationship with tea thus far and look forward to creating more memories in this exciting place.

Happy sipping,



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