Yesterday we were invited to someone’s tea party in the afternoon. We went, and to my slight surprise, there was no tea to be had — there was wine, and lemonade, and water, but no tea. There were also lots of food.
I have to say it was the first time I’ve been to somebody’s tea party, and it was therefore obviously the first time I went to such a gathering that served no tea. Apparently, it’s not that uncommon — I just didn’t know that was the term that was used. This got me thinking. The United States is a place where, I think it’s safe to say, is not particularly friendly to the tea drinker. They love coffee here, but tea takes a distant second place. I’m never quite sure why that is the case. Some have suggested to me that perhaps the Boston Tea Party killed any interest in tea, but that is plainly not true as the traders of New England and other places obviously traded tea among many other things with China during the 19th century. I also read how for Taiwan, exporting to the US was a big part of their tea trade in the early 20th century. Clearly, somebody was buying the tea here.
somehow, though, tea has basically dropped out of public consciousness and is largely drunk as iced tea (usually with tonnes of sugar nowadays) or seen as something that either old ladies or health nuts drink. It’s frightening to me when somebody says they only drink two infusions of a certain tea because it’s been shown that the third infusion contains very little nutritional value in the form of antioxidants, etc….
There’s certainly a bit of a revival in interest in tea here, but most of it is directed towards the health aspect of tea. I’m sure we’ve all seen the ads that tell you how much stuff there is in tea that will cure your cancer and make you live 200 years. They also come in funny flavours. Other than English Breakfast, the most common tea I’ve seen sold in shops that actually carry leaves is probably something like “Raspberry Earl Grey”.
Am I biased in my thinking? Do Americans drink more tea that I imagine?