Obviously, Richard III had no clue about tea otherwise he would never had asked for a horse.
In my case, I asked for tea but since I am no king, I only offered an island, the island of Sylt.
For those of you that are not German or Danish, I know I need to explain a little some things and I hope that the Germans and Danish that read the next few lines will accept my apologies for stating obvious or known things.
However, in either cases I won’t bother you with a tourist guide to Sylt.
Sylt is a Frisian island north of Germany and only a couple of kilometres (if these are kilometres) away from Denmark.
Its size shrink every year but they seemed to have been able to stop the process by bringing in sand, which according to what I heard was a highly controversial move.
It is the German equivalent to Saint-Tropez (without the ships or I missed them) because a lot of wealthy and famous people have houses there.
My trip was not tea oriented but the guide spoke about several tea places (one to drink and 3-4 to buy good tea) and I managed to find them and much more.
See the pictures below for the much more (a huge buy and drink tea shop/salon) but don’t ask me anything about this place since I was there on a Saturday at 14h00 and exceptionally they had decided to close earlier.
The previous lines were just an appetizer for one of our fellow Teatreaders to one day go to Sylt and make us a full report.
As I said the trip was not tea oriented but I had high expectations.
Because in Germany, the Frisian Islands are known to be the place where people drink tea.
They even have their own tea ceremony, with cream and rock candies (for anyone going there, don’t forget to put the spoon in the cup but only after you drink the third one).
Since I am always eager to understand things that are non-logical at first sight, I asked people in a tea store why were the Frisian Islands so famous in Germany for their tea.
The answer is that one day, a ship came to England with tea but it had to go through a storm and the tea ended all mixed up since everything was broken but the teas were still dry.
When the ship arrived, the English didn’t want it since it didn’t suit their peculiar drinking habits.
So here they were with a ship full of tea but no one eager to buy it.
This is when a “nice” Frisian merchant (I don’t know why but merchants are always nice fellows in these stories) who was there said that he would buy it and the ship was sent to the Frisian Islands. It seems that people there liked it so much, they rationalised the all thing (after all, you cannot make your favourite drink rely on the weather, such an unreliable thing) and perfected it to make the now famous (at least in Germany) Frisian Blend
A nice story, no?
However the truth might be a little different.
Frisian are not far from the Netherlands (Frisian is also a region in the Netherlands) and since they speak more or less a close language (at least at that time) and were good sailors, they were quite often recruited by the Dutch East India Company to sail on their ships.
Since every sailor was doing a little bit of trade for himself, it is no wonder that tea came to the Frisian Islands, probably first as a drug but helped by the Church it quickly grew in popularity and managed to become the number one drink before beer.
This upset Prussia, which had become the owner of East Frisian (as this part of the country is known) in 1744 and in 1778, they tried to ban it but failed and two years later, they had to lift the law.
You will ask why were they so upset?
To understand it, you have to remember that at that time, Frederick II was King of Prussia and trying to “modernise” Prussia, which for that time meant that the economical theory they applied was mercantilism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercantilism) or in other a bit too simplistic words “don’t let my gold go in the other countries and force them to bring their in mine .”
The Frisian love of tea meant a “huge” trade deficit with the Netherlands and good old gold coins going there instead of staying in Prussia.
This was not the last time that mainland Germany had to do something for the Frisian Islands and their love of tea as during World War II, they were allowed a bigger amount of tea per day than the rest of the country.
Is this more logical than the nice tale I told you a few lines above? Yes but since I could not find any peculiar reason behind the famous Frisian blend, I think both explanations go together rather well. Mine for the reason behind tea in the Frisian Islands and the other for the blend.
If you ever find a better explanation for it, just let me know and I might send you a pack of Frisian Mischung.