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I am a new visitor to your site but felt compelled to write on the following subject....
Having lived and worked in France for 6 years I would like to impart what knowledge I have on the subject of tea and the French. As already mentioned by Steve Rapaport the very mention of tea in any French establishment is bound to bring about sniggers and tittering but should you go so far as to ask for, heaven forbid, milk, with aforementioned tea you are sure to greeted by looks of sheer contempt.
The other major problem with French tea is it's weakness. Ask a Frenchman to make a cup of tea and he will bring some water to the temperature of a new born baby's bath and pour it into a cup. He will then proceed to get his tea bag and show it to the warm water then pronouce the tea brewed. This proved to be such a problem that in the six years I was there I took to importing Tetley teabags and carrying with me wherever I went - now, you can buy Tetley in France but they are quite frankly rubbish - although marginally better than the 'Lipton Yellow' brand favoured by the French themselves.
(The slight diping of a teabag into the cup and pronouncing it brewed is also a problem which severly afflicts the Dutch)
So my tip to anyone planning a trip to France would be take your own tea bags and prepared to be ridiculed if you dare to ask for milk in a cafe or bistro.
|Nicey replies: Yes we would always advise travelers to take appropriate precautions when traveling abroad and bring a supply of their own tea bags.
||Thanks to this site, I now have a place to tell my frightful French story.|
It was 1989 and I was a little nervous, being 24-ish and on a solo business trip to France, and then a bit rattled from the drive through the "Etoile Charles de Gaulle" on the way into the office in Paris. But I was still pretty confident in my competence, my professionalism, and my masculinity. Until someone offered me coffee....
I politely asked if they had any tea. In Canada where I hail from, this is a fairly usual question after coffee is offered. In France, it produced horror and shock, followed by a round of sneers and supercilious little laughs.
After a suitably intimidating silence, my host replied "No, we don't have any, but perhaps you wish to ask one of the *women*. " This last word contained unspoken volumes regarding my evident lack of masculinity, naivete, and general unsuitability for the rigors of a serious business meeting in France between men. The women, it need hardly be said, were all clerical staff, in a separate room from the real men.
Bloodied but unbowed, I actually did beg a teabag from a friendly female clerk before proceeding to the meeting, where nobody took me at all seriously thereafter and mostly they all spoke french over my head.
From this humiliation I concluded that only women (and perhaps foreign poofters) drink tea in France. Or at least that this was the case in 1989. I think that this deserves further study, perhaps on this very Webzine...
I've noticed you being a bit mean to Lipton's Yellow Label on several occasions now. Granted, it is a bit of a poor brew, but in foreign climes it can be a blessing in disguise, but more usually, the only thing on offer that resembles tea.
I've been saved by it on foreign trips as far afield as Mexico and Thailand. Given the usual choice of Yellow label or chamomile (in the form of a bunch of flowers in one notable case) Lipton's will win every time as far as I'm concerned.
I do wonder if Lipton's tea is really so bad, or it is just that most Britons only ever encounter it abroad with the attendant odd tasting milk they have over there.
PS In Thailand I went so far as to try Nestle's iced tea, for I which apologise and offer only the excuse that the weather really was very, very warm indeed. The iced tea was, alarmingly, rather refreshing.
|Nicey replies: Yes too many catered skiing holidays with enforced Lipton's Yellow Label when the body is crying out for PG.
||I think you are just the kind of person to solve a problem that has been bugging me for ages.|
I keep buying teapots and none of them pour properly. Next time I buy one I am going to insist that I can try it out in the shop.
I only ask one thing of a tea pot and that is that it should pour out tea without dribbling all over the table cloth and without the handle burning my hand. (I suppose that's two things).
Since you are clearly the experts in this field do you have any suggestions or solutions?
Mrs "slightly annoyed" from Paris
PS I love your website which I found recommended as website of the week on Which Online
|Nicey replies: That is an excellent idea, and deserves an icon. The only guide I can offer is that there appears to be inverse relationship between a teapots cost and its pouring excellence. Our quite pricey Denby Pullman pot dumps tea almost anywhere except in the cup, whilst a really cheap and cheerful pot I bought in a value shop works well.
We will all take your good word that we are Which's website of the week, given that only members can see the site contents. Presumably they tried out all the other websites about tea and sitting down and we came out tops. Hoorah!
Been out the country for a week and am shocked at the tea heresy on the site. All things in moderation I say. Anyway on a more positive note, I have been in Andorra and while over there indulged in a packet of the French equivalent of Jaffa Cakes. I think they were made by a company called "Lu" but unfortunately an oversight on my part while cleaning the apartment resulted in the empty packet being chucked out. I must say that they were superb. Thicker chocolate, jelly out to the edges with an orange tanginess the like of which only dreams are made of. McVities need to pull their finger out.
|Nicey replies: Jim,
That sounds about right. Those Lu blokes are one of the few hopes the French have, indeed they make the Figolu from the Fig Fest. I'm off on a fact finding mission to high altitude France in early February so I'll keep an eye out for them.