At Chinese New Year families give each other gifts. The kids get red envelopes with money but when families return to see their parents they often bring them the very special gift of tea. This can cost a fortune and is a true sign of love.
My dear Mother never tasted green tea but one of her favorite sayings was “not for all the tea in China”. She’d use this to reinforce a point on any issue. For example a certain politician she’d never vote for under any circumstance!
Tea was a very important part of her life and therefore mine too. If you have a weak stomach stop reading now. She more or less weaned me with tea because I would not drink milk she’d put plenty of milk in a mug of tea and mash up two or three chocolate digestive biscuits in it and give me that to eat as a breakfast or snack. It is beyond yummy but looks like puke. We even had a name for it Naty-Mate!
Tea bags were anathema to my Mum. They were the cheap sweepings off the floor and we had to always have the same brand. Nambarrie loose leaf tea and it was served very strong.
To this day each time I go to Belfast I bring back Nambarrie tea bags that no doubt Mother is frowning on from above.
When we moved to China in 2001 it was amazing to meet people more passionate about tea than my Mum. One of them was my colleague Dr Lien who introduced me to the finer varieties of green tea. Much as she tried I never did develop a passion for it but appreciate her willingness to try to educate me.
Those of us used to a British brew just can’t imagine what the Chinese green tea looks like when consumed by the common man. It looks more like chopped cabbage than tea but it is much loved and held so close to the heart of this great nation.
Such a gift they gave us!
Blessing # 591 – Camellia Sinensis