Traveling tea-ready

Coffee drinkers the world over are well-known for needing their coffee fix wherever they might be. This can lead to rather burdensome life requirements of course as was shown by a friend of a friend who took an entire espresso machine with him when he went to DR Congo. He was Italian of course, so I have a great deal of respect for the attention to detail.

I never really got in to coffee. It’s not to say that I don’t like it, as I do enjoy a dark, straight cup as they make it in Spain, Bosnia, or Turkey, but at the same time, I just really don’t need it. And I really don’t need that whipped cream, cinnamon sprinkled joke they pass off as coffee at places like Starbucks.

Snicker as you may (or if British, nod in approval) but I happen to be much more of a tea fan. This is fine when in Eastern Congo, Rwanda, Kenya, or a number of other African countries that have vast, wonderful tea fields, but when traveling at large, you often have to BYOT (Bring Your Own Tea.) For instance, when in Ghana, I found that there was indeed Lipton and it was better than the bagged version you get in the US, but it still just wasn’t quite “there”. If you lob the phrase “tea snob” at me, I probably won’t duck it at this point as I’ve just had so many crappy cups of tea while traveling that I generally pass if it doesn’t seem up to snuff. I’ll try not to sneer if in your company, but I make no promises.

The travel woes changed a great deal with the discovery of this bad boy, which is a very portable tea leaf infuser that’s rather affordable. It’s large enough to let the tea steep properly, unlike the ball, but small enough to fit anywhere. Naturally one might be looking at this and thinking, “Um, buddy, why don’t you just travel bag-enabled?” I did this for awhile, but I have to be honest with you in that once you go loose, you can’t go bag; thank you very much, Fortnum & Mason Assam. I assume it’s something along the same lines as grinding your own coffee beans prior to brewing.

But that’s about it. I can take this little fellow with me anywhere and it will span just about any cup. I can bring my own leaves or just try what is locally grown. Boil up some water, send it my way, and you’ve got a happy tea drinker. Bill, I’m hoping to get over your way soon to try some Cameroonian tea as well and I will be there, infuser in hand.

I have to admit that this was all inspired by this article which shows that you absolutely don’t need to go the fancy infuser route and may very easily find a local metal smith that can construct one out of recycled materials. But, just a bit of travel tea-lore for some of my fellow drinkers out there who might be staying in the shadows because it seems that few folks write about tea and travel as if one excludes the other, to which I say, “Hardly!”