America, Asia, Countries, Food & Wine

A cup of cha for the Queen

The Queen Mum liked her gin, Princess Margaret her Champagne, Prince Charles his Cherry Brandy but we suspect it was a cup of cha for the Queen.

The QM’s drinking holes counted racecourses up and down the country, Mags the Caribbean and especially Nylon Beach in Tobago and Chuck the Isle of Lewis.

For the Queen though it was her many palaces around Britain.

And especially those where she spent most time relaxing… Windsor, Balmoral and Sandringham.

So if you want to toast her memory this weekend raise a cup with that most British tipple, tea.

And add to the 100 million drunk by Britons every day, almost as many as are queueing to see the Queen’s coffin.

The Royal cuppa

Take a seat: The Willow Tearooms

Britain’s love affair with East Indian tea began in royal circles with a hangry 7th Duchess of Bedford.

Anna’s answer was to take tea served with light snacks which became the phenomenon of afternoon tea.

The fashion took hold throughout the land and onto our doorstep in Glasgow, the Second City of the Empire.

Queen tea: And is that a tea cosy?

With the Mackintosh Tea Rooms which celebrate the high-chaired furniture and interior decorations of the Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

And that’s just the cup of tea for more modern home furnishing British institution Cath Kidston.

With Cath kindly giving us a tea-potted history of cha around the world.

Crowning glory: Cath Kidston in Southampton

Of course all the tea in China isn’t all the tea in the world but it was where we first got the taste.

When Emperor Shen Nung went for a seat under a Camellia sinensis tree in 2737 BC.

The story goes that a few leaves fell into his boiling drinking water to try the accidental infusion and tea was born.

There’s more to this tea

Tea in bed: OLCOTE in Sri Lanka

His tea rituals he mapped out in Ch’a Ching (Tea Classic), the first book about tea written during the 8th century.

Taoist, Buddhist and Confucian in its philosophy, Chinese tea ceremonies are centred around peace, mindfulness, and appreciation.

And as many as the tea leaves in a cup, their most famous ceremony is the kung fu tea ceremony, sometimes known as gong fu.

Of course the tea we all know and love in the UK is from the Jewel in the Crown.

No, not the curry house.

But where Our Little Corner of The Earth, or OLCOTE, the hotel retreat of my old Sri Lankan-Irish force of nature Tess De Kretser will pour.

Take the floor: Bewley’s in Dublin

But from Assam in India, and Ceylon, which we all know as Sri Lanka.

If the British love their tea then the Irish love their tay double.

Ya Corker: Lafayette’s in Cork

Only be sure to know which brand to order where…

So that’s Lyons in Dublin where it must be Bewley’s Oriental Cafe on Grafton Street and Barry’s in Lafayette’s in Cork.

Rockies tea

The benchmark: Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse

Just like cats and dogs we’re told that you’re one or the other, tea or coffee.

Only we’re both, and even in the cwaffee-loving Oo Es of Eh, or especially, tea can be a delicacy.

As we found when we rocked up in the Rockies and discovered the links between Boulder, Colorado and Dushanbe, Tajikistan .

Another cuppa: Dushanbe

It’s 35 years since the Mid-West of America and the Mid-East of Asia hooked up.

And they built strong foundations from the off with architect Lado Shanidze leading more than 40 artisans in several cities of Tajikistan.

To create the decor for the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse.

Tea for me: In Boulder

Including its hand-carved and hand-painted ceiling, tables, stools, columns, and exterior ceramic panels.

Like the best artists our Tajik pals have carved their names into the teahouse’s history.

With Manon Khaidarov and Mirpulat Mirakhmatov, who helped reassemble the tea house, in signing their names in the ceiling.

A message carved in the ceiling reads “artisans of ancient Khojand whose works are magical”.

All of which you can dwell on when you’re sipping your Chai.

Colourful ceramic

Colour me good: Engraving

Eight colorful ceramic panels, created by Victor Zabolotnikov, grace the building’s exterior and display patterns of a “Tree of Life”.

And that’s enclosed by a mihrab motif (a niche in a mosque indicating the direction of Mecca.

Did we mention the Seven Beauties? Och, you’ll just have to get out there to find out for yourself.

We have to get back in the queue… we left it to get a cup of cha for the Queen.

 

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