Tradition is something that binds people together.
Sometimes it makes sense when you look at it from an historical perspective but some other times, it amazes those that look at it.
As far as tea is concerned, traditions are part of it since it began and nothing is more traditional then a tea ceremony.
What is a tea ceremony? For this post, I will define it as a sort of tea ritual, as an unique way of making and drinking tea over and over again until everybody in a certain area knows that the xxx tea ceremony is performed that way (the precise area depending on a lot of factors such as being the motherland of tea or of tea in Europe or a country full of traditions that sounds exotics to us or ..).
Everyone knows about the Chinese tea ceremonies, the Japanese one, the English one (aka “5 o’clock tea”) , the Indian one, the Moroccan one, the Russian one and I am sure I am forgetting a lot of them.
What I want to show you here is a little less known tea ceremony (although several of us Teatraders have talked about it), the East Frisian one.
East Frisian? Yes, a small part of Germany (for the East part) and of the Netherlands (for the West part) that is famous in Germany for being the place where people drink tea and nothing else (I already spoke once about a trip to this area in a previous blog post).
I didn’t go back to this area yet although I am sure that one day I will as I have many things that I didn’t see yet (both tea related and unrelated) but I travelled to Bremen, another “tea town” in Germany (for me Bremen and Hamburg are the southern borders of “tea drinking” Germany) and although I find that they usually make black tea too strong (but I think I know why), I decided to make a short video about the “right” way to perform a East Frisian tea ceremony.
After reading a bit more about it, I did at least one thing wrong: I poured too much tea on my candy sugar since the cup should not be full but the candy sugar should be covered by tea.
But as goes the saying, practice makes perfection.
I am also lucky that I was the one pouring tea into my cup as I didn’t get into any trouble by forgetting to let my spoon in my cup (as long as you don’t do this, it means you want more tea).
Now regarding the strength of black tea that sometimes borders on the bitter side, my explanation is threefold.
First and foremost, Germans are black coffee drinkers and the stronger, the better.
A second but more factual explanation is that in East Frisian, tea is drunk with liquid cream and sugar to sweeten it, which makes it easier to drink. So why bother for the strength of your tea?
My last explanation is that in Germany, tea pots remain heated while they are on your table, which even if the leaves are no longer there, changes the taste of what you are drinking.
Nice that you highlighted a less well known tea ceremony Xavier. Now my question. Why the difference in tea colors here? Is that re-steeped tea? In the video one thing I noticed is how light the tea was, extremely light for a black tea blend. If it were a Darjeeling, then I’d understand.
Anyway, I don’t like my tea too strong either, but I think you’re right to stand up to the cream and sugar it needs to be quite hearty.
@jackie I can’t lie to you. The other one was first a green tea and then a … (I don’t remember) but the tea I used was a East Frisian Blend (or something close to it).
Thanks Xavier I will add this to my list of tea cultural nuances.
I am sure there are more tea cultural nuances around the world.
What fun. Great work @Xavier!
You see why I told you @thedevotea that you had missed all the funny things in Europe?
Hamburg a Southern border? Looks more like a North East….
If I remember correctly the original tea that arrived in East Frisia was not of the better quality. I.e. strong in nature. Should have had its effect on the development of the preferences and ceremony.
To illustrate the addiction of the East Frisians to tea: it was the only area in Germany during WWII that had a steady flow of tea. The German government was too afraid that a tea shortage would lead to an uprising… But I think I said that before didn’t I.
@bram Southern border of the tea drinking Germany.
And you are probably right about the quality of the tea coming to East Frisia as one of the factors explaining its strength.
Regarding the WWII thing, I don’t know if we discussed about it but I know I read it somewhere.