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Andrew, put the kettle on love……….I have always told my children that NO MATTER what happens, your first action should always be to put the kettle on.  Boyfriend left?  Dog died?  Just lost a leg?  World apocalypse?  No matter what – always put the kettle on.

This give you a chance to turn away from the others in the room (in order to get your facial expressions into a properly sympathetic mode), busy yourself about a purposeful activity while others run around in panic and get something hot and sweet inside you.  I’m afraid that you just couldn’t ask me to face the apocalypse without a nice cup of tea.

Interestingly, we think of tea as the fermented leaf of the camellia so well known as black tea.  This came to Europe and in particular England from China and the English embraced it with well bred and nasal enthusiasm.  Before that, teas were purely herbal with some evidence found of elderflower tea being brewed in Neolithic settlements.  It lost some popularity when the English population decided that ale was healthy but the Victorians (age wise not the place next to New South Wales) brought back tea drinking.  Partly because they were all competing in the world boring contest and partly because they wanted to support the East India Company in whom they had invested so much lovely money.  Gentlemen do not work.

While in chinese tea drinking mode, they paid a British botanist (actually a Scot) to disguise himself as a particularly weird chinese traveller and find out all the tea secrets of china with a view to establishing the industry within India which was the claytons England.  He did a remarkable job.  Before him, it was thought that black tea and green tea were two different plants.  He discovered it was only the processing that differed.  He commented that on inspecting the green tea manufacturing in China, he saw them putting green arsenic in the tea that they exported.  When questioned about the advisability/ safety of giving arsenic poisoning to all tea drinkers, he was told that the foreign devils like their tea green and are not at all fussy about what is in it.

Now, if you are thinking that you would like a bit of a modern taste sensation, sans the arsenic, I advise you to try blending your own tea.  I start off with black tea in a bodum or tea pot and add a little of something else like fresh peppermint, lemongrass, lemon myrtle leaves, lemon balm or any other culinary herb.  Amaze your friends by adding fresh citrus zest to the black or green tea.  Add some berries.  If you really must, go right ahead and drink this with sugar and milk if you really want to.

If you want to get really fancy, rosellas (see previous post) make a fabulous herbal tea, being the traditional ingredient of red zinger tea that we all thought was so daring in the ’70’s.  Add to them, lemon thyme and mix with black tea or not. 

So black tea with herbs or herbs without black tea.  A new one I saw on the weekend was a normal fresh green herbal tea.  If I want to make herbal tea, I use all herbs fresh because the dried ones just don’t mooove me.  My friend picked whatever he could find in the garden.  In this case, we had rosemary, lemon thyme and other stuff that I didn’t see.  He made a normal pot of tea by pouring boiling water over and steeping the leaves but he put a glob of honey in the pot with the herbs.

After it had cooled a bit, he poured half a glass of tea, dropped in some ice cubes and finished with half a glass of soda water and a twist of lime.  I can recommend this and I’m thinking that you could get super imaginative with this, even to the point of using a sugar syrup in the tea rather than honey and combining different herbs.

Don’t forget that many herbs make a good medicinal tea.  But I really have to be sick to try them.