In last week’s Tea Journal entry, we meandered the streets of Morocco. However, this week’s ‘Stories From The Silk Road’ journal entry has us washing up on very different shores: East Frisia to be exact!
While the Silk Road has always been part and parcel—pun intended—of commerce between countries through overland routes, the seventeenth century introduced a game-changer: maritime trade.
Though maritime exploration had downsides in terms of world history (imperialism, shipwrecks, and pirates to name a few), one upside was that it spread a love for tea to new places! One such place was a little outcrop of Northwest Germany called East Frisia… the inspiration behind our East Frisian tea.
From the Far East to the North Sea
An assumption is often made that the tea-drinking culture in East Frisia stems from England, its sip-happy neighbour. However, East Frisia does not take its tea traditions from the UK or even Germany, the country it’s part of!
Rather, the Netherlands were the first to cross oceans and bring Assam leaves to East Frisia. While the rest of Germany was sipping coffee by the eighteenth century, East Frisians stuck to tea due to its economic advantages.
Unlike coffee, where beans are single-use and requires lots of equipment to brew, Assam can be brewed three times over and only requires a teapot to make! Moreover, the black tea’s boldness perfectly balances out the chilly climate and icy winds that first blew Assam onto East Frisian shores.
Fast forward 450 years and tea is so ingrained into East Frisian culture that this unassuming region actually holds the record for biggest tea consumption per capita. Specifically, its tea drinkers out sip those in England by 100 litres!
Drinking approximately 300 litres per year, East Frisia has proven many times over that their love for tea knows no bounds. This is why The Tea Centre dedicated one of our ‘Wanderlust’ gift boxes to this tea-drinking region.
The Eastern Edge
The Eastern Edge Wanderlust gift box contains East Frisian tea, sturdy tea infuser, and a perfect measuring spoon. With this gift, your recipient can indulge in all the beautiful tea rituals East Frisia has to offer!
When taking teetied (“tea time” in the local dialect), some special tea rituals to follow include using porcelain teacups and never stirring your tea! Specifically, East Frisians enjoy taking their tea in teacups featuring unique patterns; either East Frisian Rose or Dresmer Blue!
East Frisian tea-drinking rituals
A traditional East Frisian tea comprises four ingredients: East Frisian tea, rock sugar, cream, and water. Moreover, making East Frisian tea is quite ceremonial in nature.
After brewing up the loose leaf in a teapot, pour it over a piece of rock sugar in your teacup; this will result in delightful crackling sounds as the sugar melts! Then add one teaspoon of full cream.
It’s also very important to not stir your tea after adding cream! This is because East Frisians prefer to experience three distinct flavours when sipping the one cup of tea.
The first sip engulfs the taste buds with malty black tea goodness. Then, a second sip introduces the richness of full cream that mellows out any bitterness. The drink then ends in sweetness, thanks to the rock sugar at the bottom of your cup.
Turn your teacup upside down after you’ve finished (or drop your teaspoon inside) to complete your East Frisian tea-drinking experience!