My mother used to have a day now and then where she would stay inside, read books, drink tea and, because her hands were rarely idle, do knitting or handiwork all day. These occasional days she called ‘a nightie day’, meaning she stayed in her nightie all day. Rather than a common habit, ‘nightie days’ were special and far from the norm. On most days until her ninetieth Birthday, she would be up by 7.30 am, dressed perfectly, complete with accessories and stockings, and as a true Virgo, the house was tidy, beds made and washing up done before beginning her day.
So today Sunday, raining yet again, cloudy, windy and cold outside, I decided it was a nightie day. Far from a lazy day, I intend to be busy; like my mother, my hands are never idle – reading, crocheting, writing and thinking of plans for my garden are my intentions today, plus quite a lot of tea will be made and enjoyed.
There are several new Teas to try from three different online tea sites in Australia that arrived in the post last week; Elmstock, Teadrop and Tealeaves. I will let you know my review over the next few days, once completed. From Teadrop, I also purchased a new Teapot to compliment ( for hot water) my Redoute Roses Roy Kirkham Teapot. Plus, a ceramic Teapot warmer that we use every morning and so far has been highly effective.
Because so many of us have been and are still constrained in lockdowns worldwide, I began to ponder the question, is tea consumed more often than before the Covid pandemic? I imagine that tea consumption is down worldwide in cafes, tea shops and restaurants but may be higher for at-home use.
Lockdowns prevalent across the globe one would assume Tea is in its element with such a widespread focus on health and well being. The desire for comfort, variety and flavour in our refreshments is commonplace. According to Emma Skidmore in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on July 18, 2021 Tea in the US has become much more of a hobby in recent times
From what I’ve read consumers are looking for the same experience of premium style specialty teas and loose leaf black tea blends they could expect when dining out but available in the home situation. There is a strong push toward exotic teas like Matcha tea and a more interactive experience of tea. Similar to the surge in popularity of state of the art coffee machines in the home for the perfect latte and cappuccino.
One of the most significant issues for the Tea business post-Covid is that Tea has had significant interruptions to supply in some tea growing areas. There has been a recent surge in shipping container costs plus the lack of available staff for processing at ports and harvesting crops that has created delays and multiple areas of the supply chain are affected by the pandemic. In turn, other tea products such as Chai may have ingredients lacking or unavailable altogether, so certain tea blends cannot be made.
There are numerous issues with the supply of Tea from the five main Tea growing areas of India, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Turkey and China due to Covid related problems. For example, in Turkey due to border closures, 40,000 workers from Georgia and Azerbaijan were unable to work and the crops went unharvested. Similarly in India where workers were returning to Darjeeling from the cities to the hill country, work was stopped from fear the returning hospitality workers would spread the virus and no crop was harvested last year.
Covid has also bought about a worldwide burden on mental health creating a desire for drinks with a calming element to them. Customers are demanding more Herbal Tisanes from other plants than the Camellia Sinensis plant with ingredients like ashwagandha, elderberry, acacia, chamomile and valerian that for centuries were used for immunity, relaxation, inflammation, digestion and sleep. There is a recent trend toward a premium product with the healthy antioxidant properties of Tea, and more functional botanical teas, herbal tisanes, and single-origin artisanal teas.
Based on reading a report from Sri Lanka on Australia’s Tea market there is evidence that our perception of Tea has changed too and we are more interested in the authentic story behind a particular brand of tea. Younger people see Tea as a sensual wellness drink and natural, earthy flavours are becoming popular and in high demand like ginger, matcha, turmeric and cumin.
Tea sites in Australia suggest a broad appreciation of herbal tisanes with exotic blends of fruits and flowers and innovative flavour combinations are expected. Added to this is a desire for functional benefits from Tea on well being and health and a consumer trend towards sustainability and eco-friendly practices – consumers want more than just the product. They want to know the tea’s origins and the entire story behind their buy. Tea with purpose is high on our Australian agenda, as are the notions of the charms of Tea being able to delight us in reverie and provide a feel-good experience from their purchase.
Taking all these aspects together it is not hard to see that we are asking a massive amount of what was once a humble cuppa. Once Tea was just made in the family teapot to be enjoyed at breakfast, morning and afternoon tea, or at special occasions when the silver tea set was bought out and the best china Teacups and saucers were used.
Going by the research today, it appears that my cup of tea must taste delicious, with a natural and enticing aroma and will not only refresh me and refocus my mind but boost my immunity and help me relax in troubled times?
Will it, though, improve my digestion and help me sleep better? Will my tea transport me to a place I long to visit, like the Tuscan countryside or the lavender fields of Aix en Provence? Simultaneously will my Tea purchase make a difference in the real world somewhere else and into the future? Has my Tea been grown in a sustainable manner and grown without chemical intervention, produced without additives and does it help the growers and pickers at a grassroots level?
That’s a lot to expect from a cuppa?
Back to my quiet respite and my nightie day. I think it’s time to put the kettle on, ponder these findings and try out my new English Breakfast Tea in a vintage cup and saucer. Join me?
Title Image courtesy of Chic and Antique
Title quote Bill Watterson
Content Di Baker 2021