So, as is clear from my screen name and indeed the name of the blog, I love tea. Some may go as far as to say that I am obsessed with it. Having counted all the different types of tea this morning, I admit they may be correct. I have 71. 71 different types of tea. What on Earth is a person supposed to do with 71 types of tea? I certainly am an anomaly in Italy. I hate coffee. Despise it even. I just do not understand the appeal. So, while all my friends shoot down their espressos, I sit and enjoy my tea. I really don’t understand the coffee culture here in Italy. For me, if you go to a bar for a drink with friends, you take the time to sit and talk and enjoy your drink. You don’t neck it and run. Or am I being too British about the whole thing?
One thing I have developed over many years of living abroad is the ability to drink breakfast tea without milk. If I’m in a bar, I will add a slice of lemon and some honey. This all began while I was living in the Canary Islands. I had a friend who had lived in the UK so she knew we like to take milk but 20-year-old me didn’t want to seem fussy so I just drank it without. Like the Italians, the Spanish don’t really do tea, so if you order it in a cafe or bar, it never comes with milk. I can hear the Brits back home literally crying out in disgust! But other countries don’t have our tea culture. If you go to a cafe in the UK and order tea, you would have to tell them not to put milk in it. It’s just how it’s done. When I’m back home, and I’m making a good old cuppa, I put milk in it. However, even if I make a cup in my flat here in Italy, I usually skip it.
The Italians have this stereotypical idea that British people only drink tea at 5 o’clock in the afternoon. I soon put them right. I drink tea all day. As soon as I get up, I put the water on to boil (I still need to get a kettle!). Then, when I get to work, I’ll make one. Depending how many lessons I have in the afternoon, I may drink two or three. I think if you tested my blood, it would be mostly tea. When I came back to Italy after Christmas, I brought 22 different types of tea with me. My parents even gave me some as a present! Tea in Italy is expensive. A box of 20 bags of Twinings will set you back over 3 euros, compared to just over £1 back home.
I am lucky that in our tiny town, we actually have a shop dedicated to tea. Needless to say, it’s probably my favourite place in the whole of Sulmona. The lady in there is really nice and can always give suggestions about the best kinds of tea. It’s also filled with beautiful tea accessories – mugs, teapots, tea sets, tea strainers. All sorts! A true tea lover’s paradise. The walls are filled with every tea you could imagine – black, green, rooibos, all different herbal and fruit infusions. It’s magical and I spend way too much money every time I go there. They also sell coffee and lots of sweet goodies.
So, it would seem that in a country otherwise devoted to coffee, I have found a little refuge for those of us who don’t appreciate it.
Photo of Peter’s Tea House taken from their Facebook