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I stumbled across your website today, and while at first, I really couldn't be bothered looking, I felt this urge of curiosity creep in and thought, oh what the hell, what’s the worst that could happen? I actually quite liked your site, refreshingly amusing and fun to read after a mind bogglingly boring and repetitive day at my desk in work.
I particularly liked your statement to spelling geeks!
As to your tea policy, tad disappointed, tea experts you might be, but please please please, milk first, THEN tea (show some dedication to the cause and pour the water onto a RAISED tea bag (and your fingers while holding the tea bag aloft) or better still, just use leaf tea in a pot and strain it into a cup with milk already in it! Ceramic, before you ask. Canadians have a thing for using tin tea pots - philistines! ;-)
Ok, not I am sounding like a geek (a mad tea geek, I can’t spell for toffee!).
All fun aside, I really liked clicking through your website, it was written with great humor – thank you
Good work, and keep it up!
|Nicey replies: Fighting our corner I think pouring water over a tea bag to rinse the tea from it is definitely errant and slightly dangerous behaviour as tea needs steeping not washing.
Other than that ideological difference we seem to be on good terms and thanks for dropping by.
Love your website and sense of humour, and especially the original spelling and grammar together with the Joycian rambling off into thoughts far removed. From what? Oh yes, tea and biscuits.
My parents took us from the UK in 1959, when tea was loose and landed us in in Nova Scotia, Canada. Tea is big here, and the vast consumption of it a bit of a giggle to the rest of the country. By 1959, teabags had already displaced most loose tea, and we couldn't get a decent cuppa anywhere except at home. Then we discovered that all the tea came from Kenya and is called orange pekoe. I therefore became distraught at British colonial policy which obviously meant all the decent Indian tea was intercepted shortly after being picked and sent to the UK, leaving the rest of the world to choke down inferior brews. This, I believe, was as a distinct policy decision to make up for the Boston Tea Party, when nascent Americans invented iced tea by brewing it in the harbour.
Nevertheless, my Mum soon discovered the universal "socials", at which other Mums would gather round to discuss their favourite topic or charity. These events were usually chronicled in the local paper with a description of the gathering, and Always the following note: "Mrs. So and So poured". Some of these ladies poured so much tea that they became very good at it, and championships had evolved by about 1885. Of course, my Mum quickly discovered that the nibblies offered at these socials were called ookies -- argh On the other hand, some of these things had morphed into what is generally known as "squares". Never seen anything like them in Blighty, but they have biscuits beaten by a country mile most of the time, as they are homemade, soft, gooey, quite often have lots of choccy nuts and jam in them and make you burp after the third cuppa. The most popular cookie, oh all right biscuit was then and still is the chocolate chip, which is made in every variety from hard like bourbons to gooey bits of mostly chocolate held together with undercooked dough. Hmm... Oreos are industrial floor sweepings and sugar baked into a hard and not very nice biccy. Don't like 'em at all, but some people are addicted. Rats.
The "cookie" aisle at local supermarkets has well over 200 varieties of biscuits, but most aren't much good, although Dare Marshmallow Puffs aren't bad. These are, I should think, similar to Tunnocks tea cakes, but my brother and I used to put them in the fridge until they were cold and then you could pop the chocolate covering off them with your lips, leaving the white blob of marshmallow quivering on the biscuit, hiding the jam under it. Or you treat it like a boiled egg and smack its crown with a teaspoon, splintering the chocolate just enough to allow its removal from the clinging marshmallow with your fingers. Then while the cold chocolate gradually melted in your mouth, you could keep a close eye on the marshmallow, and decide how you were going to dispatch this particular specimen. You could lift it off the biscuit with your tongue and roll it around your mouth while it quietly dissolved, leaving the jammy biscuit behind, or in a fit of venal hunger bite right into the marshmallow and biscuit and chew it up. Delicious.
As you know Wagon Wheels were an invention of Westons, which was a Canadian outfit. Having been quite unimpressed as a schoolboy in Britain with these things, we were eager to find out what the real thing was like. Just as bad with a faint whiff of decaying straw, which every wagon wheel seems to have. Maybe that's the grain content.
There are many makes of digestives, but none of them taste like McVities. We still have Peek Freans here, but the funny little biscuits with the oven-hardened red jam blob in the middle taste remarkably like sawdust, and the tasteless jam sticks to your teeth for far too long. The bourbons are dreadful as well, being hard and with concrete-like filling and the digestives are merely passable. We had Marks and Sparks here for about 15 years, but despite their best efforts, they were unable to convince Canada that having all their goods arrayed around with snooty sales ladies and no pizazz was the marketing wave of the future. However, while they were here, at least people who had visited the UK and knew about M&S could get decent tea and biscuits, along with tinned cock-a-leekie soup, which I understand was a smash bestseller to expatriate Welshmen. The trouble with M&S stuff is that whilst being of first class quality, it never tastes like the original, does it? Something not quite right.
After ten years of living in the colonies, I returned to London to take postgrad studies, and in my five years there downed so many cuppas and biscuits, it was all a bit of a blur really. Tescos were just starting up and were infested with grim-faced women buying the basics in pretty grimy locations like Lamb's Conduit Way, where one had to pass by the proprietor of an Indian restaurant who would call out the wondrousness of his curries and especially Bombay Duck as we Canadians tried to look the other way hurrying to buy some biscuits and a loaf of bread. By the way, ordinary bread in the UK is the best I've ever found by a long shot. I just can't enjoy a decent boiled egg without a proper slice of bread that's both chewy and heavy. Our loaves here weigh a pound and are the same size, which makes them fluffy enough to blow away in a light breeze, but not suitable as a gustatory complement to a humble egg. On the other hand, Britain invented Batchelors dehyrated peas and Vesta curries so you can't have everything your way can you.
Fast forward to 1993 when I made my last trip to the UK, and managed to visit nearly all the friends I made while living in London, this meant travelling the length and breadth of the Uk including the Isle of Islay and quite a few drams of damn good whisky. Where was I, oh yes -- In Manchester, I had to give up tea-drinking by 6pm one day, as I counted back to the beginning of the day whilst sequestered in the loo and realized I had had 23 cups at six different places and a couple of real Eccles cakes from that place in Eccles which claims to have invented them. Very nice but felt a bit queasy.
So now I read on your website that tea consumption is down a lot due to youngsters drinking too much juice and coke, which is a real pity because it leads to diabetes all that sugar. Plus, there's nothing like a quiet gathering with a nice cuppa and a biscuit or three. Anyway, I now buy Brooke Bond tea packaged in India from a local merchant so as to get the real tea flavour I like and make it properly as it's loose. Not like the leaf tea of my youth to look at, little hard granules that explode in boiling water. Not bad at all. On the other hand, besides biscuits of many varieties that would be instantly recognizable to you, we also get stuff from Poland, Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands which I have endeavoured to try. I should think that anyone from the aforementioned countries who visited the UK and had a decent cuppa and a UK biscuit would not want to return home. Good Lord, what are these things? Dry, crumbly biccies that don't travel well at all. Our Canadian stuff is much more like yours than these continental things. The Dutch try the hardest, but the German ones come in big bags without liners which mean they get crushed just getting here. I mean Britain gave the world hardtack, didn't it, and if that wasn't the beginning of the digestive, I don't know what is. Unbreakable unless dropped on its edge just so.
Funnily enough, the very best tea I've ever been offered anywhere at a commercial place was in the USA, and I can recommend it highly. Visit the Acadia National Park in Maine, and wonder of wonders, the US National Parks Service serves tea in the garden and adjacent meadow at picnic tables in summer during the late afternoon. It is brought by attractive college students working their summer jobs there and arrives in a giant green porcelain teapot with Parks Service logo together with proper cups and saucers and milk and sugar. Just couldn't believe it when it happened, so had to have another pot with my parents. Wow. Who'd have ever believed it, the setting was perfect, the tea divine. So unexpected.
Well I've written far too much and don't understand those icons, so don't know where this fits. But keep up the good work, I laugh my head off reading it and none of my friends understand why when I show them. I think I'll have a nice cup of tea and read some more, because I'm already sitting down.
|Nicey replies: Thanks Bruce for that mammoth message, and all of that useful information on Canada, its biscuits, cakes and its tea. Also thanks for the tip off about a place in America that makes a decent cup of tea, after four years I think we may be edging towards double figures on that. You also managed a fairly respectable icon haul. If you had kept going a bit longer I'm sure you would have most of the others, and I felt particularly that the kettle and toast icons where within your grasp at one point. |
||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...
|Ive been sitting here for the past 2 hours (its about 5 am) in my cold basement somewhere in Canada, surfing the net, really needing a nice cup of tea. Not residing in this country very long and very dubious of what resembles tea over here, last week I ordered a tea with milk from a local Coffee-Time. My husband brought it to me, I sipped it and said "does this tea taste like ****?" - vaguely reminiscent of that famous Austin Powers sketch. My long-suffering hubby duly returned the luke- warm sludge, only to discover that the server had placed the tea-bag into the cup and filled it up with black coffee!|
p.s. the only English biscuit I can find in my local store is McVities Digestive (plain) - thank heavens for small mercies. But it doesn't quite taste the same?????
Anne - Toronto
Great site- good fun to read!
My Canadian (and now ex) girlfriend accused tea drinkers of being rather camp. Of course – I took offence to this. It seems our overseas cousins do not realise that the Great British empire was built by a nation of tea drinkers! So many places wouldn’t know where they were without the English national bevvy! (q.v. “Asterix In Britain”)
|Nicey replies: I'm sure she was only trying to get her own back for the Lumberjack song.|