Tea for the Irish
When one thinks of Ireland, what's the first thing that comes to your mind? Probably not tea… but it should be.
Do you know that the Irish drink more tea per capita than the Chinese, more than the Russians, and significantly more than the famed tea-loving English? Truth be told, the normal Irish individual drinks more tea in a year than the combined average Canadian, American and Mexican (virtually all of North America)!
So why are the Irish so fanatical about tea?
Let’s investigate a bit of Irish history.
Amid WWII, Ireland announced itself a neutral country and declined to give England set up naval bases on their coasts. This made the English government quite furious, so in retaliation, they restricted the amount of tea and coal allowed into Ireland (tea was then exclusively brokered in England, as well as coal).
The Irish government, maddened by this, set up their own brokerage as soon as the war had ended, known as Tea Importers Ltd., buying their tea directly from the source and vowing to never buy from England again.
Since then, drinking tea was done as a sign of Irish independence. A culture was built around it and it was celebrated.
When do the Irish drink their tea?
Irish drink their tea at any time of the day. Traditionally, they drink it at 11 am with scones, then 3-5 pm in the afternoon with a cookie. Then, another drink at 6 pm of high tea.
What makes Irish tea unique?
The traditional Irish tea is strong and has lots of milk. If you think they pour their milk on a cup with tea already on it (like what most people do), you're wrong. Doing so alters the flavour of the tea, so they prefer to do the reverse; milk first then tea. (However, many Irish already follow the tea first before milk – it’s more of a preference really.)
They call their tea "cupan tae" or "cuppa tay."
How to make tea the Irish way
We don't have to be an Irish to taste Irish tea. The steps are fairly easy; here's how:
1. Heat some water, either on a kettle or a teapot. Bring to a boil.
Recommended: Make the perfect cup of tea with our Gravity Teapot.
2. Add a teaspoon of fresh loose leaf tea to the pot. Make it one teaspoon per person plus one. Steep for 3-4 minutes.
Recommended: The best ones to try are black teas.
3. Bring out your teacups. Fill 1/3 of the teacup with milk or cream.
4. Pour the strong hot tea into the teacup. Sweeten to your liking.