Welcome to the first of what we hope will be a regular serial, covering the culture surrounding the world’s favourite hot drinks. We are intentionally keeping the overall theme a little vague, so we can use this space to write about anything at all to do with tea and how it’s enjoyed.
In case you haven’t been outside recently, winter is well and truly upon us, so we thought we should button up our jackets and embrace the cold while we check in with the Dutch. It is perhaps fitting that we start this journey in the Netherlands, where the world’s first multinational company dominated the global trade of tea 400 years ago.
The modern day Netherlands is inarguably better known for its coffee shops (or should that be ‘coffee shops’?) but it should come as no surprise that tea is just as popular a drink.
Tea drinking has experienced a renaissance in Netherlands and in the last twenty or thirty years, gourmet loose leaf tea shops have begun to spring up in major cities and towns all over the country, however it is still common place for tea to be made using teabags, in most homes or café’s. When serving loose leaf tea the Dutch use a system involving an open-top pouch, filled with leaves, perched across the top of an open teapot.
Perhaps the most common tea drink to be found isn’t really what we might call tea at all; a bushel of fresh mint leaves, submerged in a tall glass of boiled water and next allowed to steep for several minutes, this process results in the tea drink better known as ‘verse munt thee’ and the resultant brew is a blast of mint that is truly divine.
Here in Australia it’s easy to forget that Tea is a very ancient and culturally broad drink, whose customs have evolved over thousands of years of bringing people together. Stay tuned to this space as we take you on a journey into the not so well known world of Tea.