Hurrah for the Internet! We hope to have much more access to the net here in the city that never sleeps, the city so good they named it twice- London.
I have been in or near London about 16 hours, and a quite a few of those have been in transit or asleep. So, fully rested at 5am, time to share with you the story of 5 days on the virtually tealess island of Menorca.
Spain is not the easiest country in the world to get your hands on good tea; and though the 70,000 inhabitants of Menorca probably drink it at a higher percentage that the mainland, it’s all tea bags. Last time I was there I was forced to exist on PG Tips tea bags, and despite a stiffly-worded letter to the UN about this gross violation of my human rights, I held out no hope that things had changed. Luckily, I was much more prepared this time.
I did have small sample-sized bags of 1910 and Persian Princess, but I gave them to our hosts as soon as we arrived. This left me with just seven 50 or 100g packets of various teas to survive 5 days. Tough, I know.
But with a small amount of tea preparation equipment – a tumbler, a lobster claw and my duck infuser – I took on the challenge to keep Lady Devotea and I in good tea for five days.
So here’s what they were, and what we thought.
Tea and Coffee World’s Ceylon Evening Tea: This is exactly as you imagine it to be. When I made tea for us and our hosts on a few occasions, this was what I used. Just a good quality mid-strength black. All those present found it to be a lovely tea with a nice aftertaste.
Caj Chai’s Chai Mix: I never got around to brewing a sweet milky chai in the somewhat sapping heat that filled our visit, but I did brew two tumblers of this with fresh ginger added, mixed them with half a litre of soy sauce, a dash of red wine vinegar, pepper, honey and icing sugar to make a reasonable facsimile of Indonesian Kecap Manis , a sauce that was essential to a dish I cooked as a thank you to our hosts. There were only about 6 kinds of soy available, and all of them light. As I said, really remote and tough conditions. Hard to review it except to say it added a lovely complexity to an audacious culinary stunt that actually worked in taste of not in texture. It has also made my suitcase quite fragrant!
Tea and Coffee World’s 1001 Noches: Despite having clearly pinched the name from us (not the only Spanish company to do so) this is quite a nice blend. Green tea (a gunpowder by the look), black tea (Maybe a Yunnan), jasmine and rose petals. I made up about 3 litres of this and iced it to accompany the Pork Belly in Kecap Manis (ish) I cooked and it was lovely. Very refreshing in the heat. All were impressed.
Caj Chai’s Rize. Interesting Turkish tea. Very broken, like Australian Daintree to look at, but not quite as flavourful. Doesn’t really resteep well but both Lady D and I enjoyed it on a few occasions.
Tea and Coffee World’s Champagne and Strawberry Green tea. A flavoured green,much as it sounds. Has Chamomile in it for some reason. We drank it once and enjoyed it, but it was not in the same league as the rest of the tea.
Tea and Coffee World’s Jungpana Darjeeling: Just lovely! A superb Darjeeling-presumably a second flush,-that we drank constantly. I will be exploring Jungpana more fully at a later date. Both Lady D and I impressed, so it works for milk and sugar and also neat. Also resteeps admirably!
Caj Chai’s Nepal Golden Tips: A personal recommendation from Antonio, and he got it 100% right. Easily the pick of this bunch, this is just an irresistible tea. Lady D also loved it. I think I drank almost a litre and a half whilst composing the blog about my visit to Caj Chai.
I think what we can learn from all of this is when you are spending time with lovely and completely eccentric relatives (of Lady D in this case) on an island in the Mediterranean and you relax by doing not much, except visiting a hilltop monastery, sipping drinks on the beachfront at twilight, consuming huge quantities of food, exploring the Spanish passion for yet more ways to make a ham sandwich, writing in the cool mornings or horse riding from a horse refuge – complete with goats, cats, dogs and Barry the Mistreated Burro – then having good tea is a real bonus.
Five days as an Internet castaway and I never once had to talk to a volleyball, fight with fierce natives or go mad.
A good result I think.