Sunday, February 20, 2005

TEA: East meets West

TEA Time

Weekends for the Dutchman and I also means its our --- Tea Time.

In Europe, tea is observed as an afternoon ritual with a cookie to go with it. While in Asia, especially in the Chinese countries, people drink it all throughout the day.

I took the habit of tea drinking several years ago when tea shops started sprouting all over Manila - hot tea, cold tea, green tea, lemon tea, cherry tea, yeah any flavored tea you can see. Welcome Tea liberation!

Tea please... no sugar, no lemon, no milk, nothing please, just plain tea.

My favorite was Green Tea Rice retailed by this chic tea house (sorry, I am lousy with names) in the ground floor of the Pacific Star Building by Makati Avenue corner Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue in Makati City.

I love its exotic taste and its aroma of slightly burnt rice.

So during weekends after dinner and while talking to the Dutchman (circa long distance relationship days), I always make sure to have a hot cup of this Green Tea Rice.

I only changed my tea schedule when I moved here in NL. Like I said earlier, tea drinking in Europe is voted for afternoons. I haven’t really asked why?

So this Sunday afternoon Dutchman and I had a Darjeeling treat. And yesterday Saturday was Earl Grey Classic day. I still miss the Green Tea Rice though.

TEA Memoirs

According to Chinese mythology, in 2737 BC, the Chinese Emperor, Shen Nung, scholar and herbalist, was sitting beneath a tree while his servant boiled drinking water. A leaf from the tree dropped into the water and Shen Nung decided to try the brew. The tree was a wild tea tree.

And thus the birth of the beverage called tea. But how did it influence Europe?

The first mention of tea outside China and Japan is said to be by the Arabs in 850 AD and it was they who were reputed to have brought it to Europe via the Venetians circa 1559. However, it is the Portuguese and Dutch who claim the credit bringing tea and tea drinking to Europe.

Aha, the perpetrators, the colonizing sea-faring Europeans have struck gold with this tea business. It wasn’t all about the grand spice trade after all. The naive Filipinos thought that Ferdinand Magellan only brought the gospel of truth - Christianity. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

The Portuguese opened up the sea routes to China, some say as early as 1515. Jesuit priests traveling on the ships brought the tea drinking habit back to Portugal, while the sailors manning the ships encouraged the Dutch merchants to enter the trade. Subsequently a regular shipment of tea to ports in France, Holland and the Baltic coast was set up in 1610. England entered the trade via the East India Company, or the John Company as it was known, in the mid to late 17th Century.

An old Douwe Egberts Pickwick Tea can, manufactured in Utrecht, Netherlands for the English market.

Quotes are excerpts from here: Tea site.

“Did you know who was responsible in bringing this herbal plant to Europe?” I ask Dutchman.

“No, tell me...” [peeking from behind his laptop].

“Your forefathers.”

One thing lead to another; the next thing I saw was the Dutchman waving his hands up on the air. I chastised him because he is not supposed to be patriotic, lol.

More facts: King Charles II, while on exile in mainland Europe, particularly in the Netherlands, married a Portuguese, Catherine of Braganza, who was an avid tea drinker. Tea drinking during those times has just proliferated, mainly due to the flourishing trade with Asia. King Charles II and his wife were both known to be tea drinking practitioners. When the monarchy was re-established, the royal couple went back to England, bringing with them the tea activity. Nothing comes close to quick society acceptance than royal patronage. Nowadays, tea drinking is a fine English tradition. Nobility has fortified its existence.

Compared to the English, the unfussy and straightforward Dutch are less bothered and fixated to the mystery of the tea. The Dutch are after all just conventional tea drinkers, nothing fanciful and sophisticated like the English.

Tea drinking was brought to America by Peter Stuyvesant for the colonists in the Dutch settlement called New Amsterdam, better now known as New York.

So there, a little bit of tea history for this weekend.


  1. "You are my cup of tea!" My first tea exposure at 16 years old, my british friend said "come to our house, tea time!" tea cakes, scones, dainty sandwiches and the beginning of my tea affair. I warm up my tea pot, and don't use soap inside! Tea and me mates what a great past time.

  2. MissT tea,try buying organic tea no chemicals it has a different taste! Guess whats wrapped with lots of bubble wrap for norway? My tea pot....

  3. SHA: tea cakes and scones can make you fat!!! lol!

    yeah i never use soap when cleaning my coffee and tea pot. i just clean it with water hehe.

    i also dont boil my tea (dont have those kettles). i just boil water and pour it to my tea pot... with my small tea ball dangling full of tea leaves.

    will try that organic tea you mentioned.

  4. I look forward to the day we shall have our tea together. with or without cakes, maybe dainty cucumber sandwich will do! 1998 I went to Cebu and had my tea bags with me! Time changing I think way back home!

  5. Anonymous11:47 am

    Question : In the Netherlands, is "Tea" another word for Dinner? lol

    Mrs. Frivolity

  6. Anonymous2:11 pm

    Afternoon tea is very European. It was Queen Victoria who made afternoon tea very fashionable in her era. She would have small cakes, sconces, fruit compotes and sandwiches with her tea and sometimes she would invite other noble ladies to have tea with her. When I went to Victoria, Canada with my sis we went for an Afternoon Tea at The Empress Hotel. It was an expensive tea ritual but very worth the experience. The Afternoon Tea is very Royal.


  7. Just came back fr AFTERNOON TEA at Betty's (finest tea place in york) will now prepare HIGH TEA. High tea (a supper really) is different from afternoon tea in that a meat course is added to the menu. I've become a "Brit", is it like this in NL too.

  8. Wow, I never knew there could be said so much about tea, lol! Mrs. Frivolity: In Dutch tea is 'thee'. It's not another word for dinner. like it is in England. It's just... tea!

  9. SCHATZLI: lets have tea in oslo and amsterdam! but we dont have those tea places like in the UK. tea is observed by most Dutch at home.

    i know where that Betty's tea in York! thats the one by the bridge where you can sit and watch the boats pass by. i would have done that if it didn't rain when i was there.

    MRS. FRIVOLITY: tea in holland is just plain 'ole TEA, lol! as Elentari has said, we call it here "THEE". TEA in NL is an afternoon snack, like a merienda for us Filipinos. it is usually served with cookies and nothing fancy. it's a ritual too here but observed only at home.

    CARRISSE:what you had is the british/english style of tea-ing hehe. they are really into the worshipping of the tea activity. here in NL, tea is just an afternoon drink-snack, nothing else. so when u come here in NL and u visit a Dutch home in the afternoon, expect tea with a cookie to be served... no yummy sandwiches, scones and tea cakes, they are too pompous for ths Dutch plus they are a bit health conscious here.

    ELENTARI: i think in English they have a type of tea time where it is some sort of dinner. remember the English are more particular in their food, delicacies and social events (tea party?) than the Dutch, lol.

  10. Anonymous3:02 am

    I missed real iced tea on a warm summer day when I was in the Netherlands (of course i could have just made it myself). In the restaurants and the cafes I only encountered that Nestea, carbonated, tea-flavored drink (yuck!). Maybe it is too much work for them to brew fresh tea and chill it or maybe it just wouldn't be that popular.

    Tea recommendations: jasmine green tea and cherry sencha, or lemon-ginger iced tea.

  11. Hey MissT, my post was a little bit messed up, it was meant to say 'It's not another word for dinner, like it is in England.' but instead it said 'It's not another word for dinner. like it is in England.' Seems kinda sarcastic? Well, I used to have a friend in England and when I stayed over they said: What would you like to have for tea? I said: I don't drink tea! They said: No, tea, it's like supper! Lol, that was when I realised that tea is another word for supper, or dinner there :)!

  12. JESSICA: Ice cold tea in NL is not popular unlike in the USA thats why you only see those carbonated cold tea drinks here. We don't have those fashionable tea houses hehe, im sure you noticed that in your stay here before. Tea in NL (or most in Europe) is always served HOT in a teapot and you drink it with tea cups.

    ELENTARI: Yeah i got what you mean. Kind of tried reading between the lines!

  13. You're right,tea here is serve anytime of the day. In schools,offices,restaurants (instead of water) and of course in every house you go. Most of the time it's the Japanese green tea,available in dozens of flavor.Usually served with sembeis (rice crackers) and bean-jam buns.

    I'm a coffee lover,never been a tea drinker. :)

  14. SACHIKO: i love the real japanese green tea, the original one. its very healthy and can keep you slim right? hehe

  15. i like your site!! Nice writing.
    However, i'm drinking coffee. Why?
    Because my mother was british and everyday she and her friends would sit around and have this awful creamy too sweet tea (we lived in OHIO!!). i would have to sit there and be quiet while my mum and her friends would prattle on and on and on...about the flowers.
    Now, i drink coffee!


  16. BODHI: thats a funny one. your mother drove you to drink coffee because of her endless probably boring (talk about flowers?) tea sessions with friends, lol!

    and welcome!

  17. Anonymous7:17 pm

    Interesting blog. You make some good points. You might be interested in stop smoking herbal tea. There's a vague connection to what's been discussed here.


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