Tuesday, 26 July 2011

A Celebration: Tea In All Weathers

Well, that’s my second 90 day challenge officially finished! To celebrate, I went into Glasgow with Hayley and Debbie to commemorate 90 days of a different tea each day with a proper ‘afternoon tea’ and cocktails. We went to The Saint on Bath Street, where they celebrate the 1930’s prohibition era by serving fantastic cocktails in beautifully fragile teapots and teacups. Apparently, it was what was done at the time to sneak around the prohibition laws, and pretend you were having a nice cup of tea while still enjoying the forbidden fruit.

The one we chose to have was the Strawberry Cream Martini. It was so strange to see a cloudy pink liquid being poured out of a teapot – I’m so used to the clear streams of tea that it surprised me a bit. I inhaled the scent first, and it did have a very strong smell of strawberry, which was lovely on a sunny day. Hayley said she felt like she was in Paris or some posh European city (I suppose much more posh than Glasgow) sitting in the front courtyard with the sun streaming in through the vines and the other people drinking their illicit tea next to us.

The taste was absolutely lovely. Creamy indeed. The description on the menu was “Raspberry skyy vodka & strawberry bols liqueur, infused with a touch of double cream, strawberry & champagne jam, topped up with cranberry juice”.

We enjoyed every aspect of it – and you could see the little strawberry seeds from the jam remaining at the bottom of the cup. The afternoon tea included cucumber and egg sandwiches, with a dark chocolate cake, buns, and scones with jam and cream. I think I had more cream and jam than I’ve had in a very long time! It was a proper tea, on a beautiful day, with excellent company. Absolutely ideal way to finish off and celebrate my 90 days. (We added a few cocktails, too, just because.)

My summary of the tea journey is as follows:

There are far more tea varieties than you could possibly imagine. I never had an instance where I ran out of teas to try – I could easily have carried on for the entire year with this project. I did run out of teas in my own cupboard, but that’s simply because it gets expensive buying an entire box of tea, and then realising you’ve got to go get another one for the next day! I had green teas, black teas, red/rooibos teas, white teas, fruity teas, and herbal teas. I had iced tea, hot tea, lukewarm tea (not recommended); tea with milk, with lemon, with sugar, with honey. I drank tea in Scotland, England, and America, and I tried teas originating from Africa, Thailand, India, Arizona, Japan, the Netherlands, China, and Russia. I drank tea alone, sipping quietly and enjoying a time of rest; at airports, rushing along to catch a flight; in groups of laughing people; with a close friend over long conversation; at business meetings; with family; at home; and in restaurants. There were a few teas I really did not like, but even those I came to appreciate in some way. I’ve had my entire perspective opened up, and I can’t think of a single tea that I wouldn’t at least try once. I’ve learned how to guestimate what’s in a tea without even knowing its name, and I’ve dissected tea leaves to discover the answer. I’ve fallen in love with loose leaf tea, and even more with the green variety. I still don’t like a cup of hot tea on a warm summer’s day. And I’ve enjoyed my days of rest, too.

My walking has continued well. It hasn’t been as varied as my walking blog, but it’s been more consistent, and more enjoyable in that my thoughts can ramble along to themselves since I know exactly where I’m going.

I can say confidently that it was an exercise well worth completing, and I again feel that sense of accomplishment and pride that I would set out to do something, and finish it to the end. There have certainly been days when I really didn’t want to do any of it – walk, blog, drink tea, take photographs, anything – but I did it anyway. (And a few days where I didn’t want to, so I just didn’t.) As always the life lessons are:

  • Any long term project is very, very hard in the middle, and towards the end. When you’ve gone long enough that you feel you’ve achieved something, but you really wish you could just be done.
  • Doing something every single day is difficult, and incredibly rewarding. It is possible to write a blog post every day, to walk every day, to do what you’ve set your mind to every day.
  • Being willing to try something new and away from your standard is valuable for all areas of life. It makes you think differently, see differently, and in this case, open up new worlds of taste!
  • Rest is critical. It’s as much a part of the journey as the hard work, and makes the achievement possible. Trying to achieve at a high level every single day is not only impossible, but foolish.
  • Celebration is a very important part of the process, too. Once you’ve achieved something fairly momentous (if only in your own mind), it’s important to recognise that with some kind of ceremony or acknowledgement – and bring friends along. Celebration doesn’t work alone.
  • People notice things. Even more than the last walking challenge, I felt like no one was really reading the blog, no one commented for days or even weeks, and I wondered why I was even bothering. But everywhere I went, literally all over the world there were people asking how my tea journey was going, offering me different teas to try, joining me in the process, and even starting challenges of their own! That was the most flattering and encouraging, to realise that my own efforts had inspired someone else to do something similar. Who knows how far the encouragement of their challenges could reach?
I’ll end this blog with a tea quote, as I began it. This one seems to encapsulate what I’ve experienced in my journey:

“We can make of bread and water
Sweet feasts of toast and tea.”
- Oakland Tribune, 1903

There are such simple ingredients involved in making such a beautiful, restful, peaceful, enjoyable experience.

May the simple ingredients of your life be thus transformed.

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