Monday, September 1, 2014

Cup of tea?

Ok, well I had a blog almost finished, I had it saved, I was up to the fun part of adding photos and the damned thing deleted the entire post and THEN SAVED THE CHANGES. So regarding the title of today's blog - you may wish to go get yourself a cup of tea because that's what I'm doing because DELETED BLOG and I need to chill before I write this post again. (And yes, I know I should write this in Word and then paste it here. Same thing would have happened, my curser is possessed.)

Ok, I am back, time for blog post 2.

As I was saying, and you're going to have to trust me on that because DELETED POST, yesterday while out walking my companion (because while I am a classic introverted writer, I have rather to my surprise made one or two friends) said to me that I am behaving like a real Egyptian. I was puzzled, because all I had done was to wait beside a parked car for two other cars to go past (and they were making a production of getting past each other too) so that I could continue walking. Ah yes, my companion said, but you are waiting in the street and there is a footpath behind you! And there was. I have become so accustomed to walking along the street like everyone else - except for Sheraton Street where the footpath is wide and the traffic is manic - that it did not occur to me to use the perfectly serviceable footpath behind me.

Earlier the same day while walking one of the back streets I came across a truck, a pile of metal rods, a huge pile of sand, two metal crates, and a huge pile of gravel spread over the entire width and some considerable length of the street. They were not there a few days ago. There were men working in one of the huge holes that will soon transform into a building, and men working with the truck etc. If I had been driving a car I may have been a touch annoyed since the street was effectively blocked to all other traffic, but I was walking so I just negotiated the obstacles, climbed the sand and the gravel and went on my way. It's daily life here, Hurghada is like one big building site.

So, later that night I began to wonder what else I have started to take for granted and my thoughts turned to tea. Not that I take tea for granted, tea is essential to my survival and to the survival of those around me. Without tea in the morning I do not perform well, or at all. I am irritable, sleepy and not fun to be around. Tea gives me a boost, gets my brain into gear, wakes me up, quenches my thirst, soothes frazzled nerves (DELETED POST) and basically keeps me sane. I do drink coffee, I get a buzz from it and sometimes it can even take away a headache. But tea is what lubricates my entire being. However I have started to not notice the way it is served.

So, in Egypt tea is drunk everywhere. It is served black, and most people seem to take it with sugar. At least I always have to refuse sugar more than once to be believed. Tea is served in a glass far more often than in a cup or mug, and almost always the tea used is Lipton Yellow Label. I don't know why except maybe it is a mild tea that is not bitter when drunk black. Tea will be served with a teabag, or with the tea leaves in the bottom of the glass. I was a little startled when I was first served tea with the leaves in the bottom of the glass, but it's very practical and tastes just fine. I like black tea, I like tea with lemon - which is actually lime because in Egypt limes are called lemons - and I like tea with mint (but not from a storekeeper who wishes me to spend my life savings). However I prefer to drink my tea with milk, especially in the mornings and definitely at times of stress, by which I mean you deleted post.

The problem with the milk here is that it tastes to me like powdered milk, even the brands that proudly announce NO ADDED MILK POWDER on the label. It tastes like milk powder. There is only one brand I have found that tastes like fresh milk and I can only get it from one store around this area. So I drink tea with milk that sometimes tastes fresh and sometimes tastes of powdered milk. And I drink it black with lemon or mint. But I have not got used to drinking it any way other than how I prefer it, with real, fresh milk.

Coffee is also a very popular beverage, usually drunk black also, and the most popular seems to be the Turkish coffee. I quite like Turkish coffee although it is very strong for me and tends to give me heart palpitations. But I love the smell of it. There is a tiny coffee shop I go to that smells divine, like a coffee drinkers spicy coffee heaven.

I have a passion for fine bone china teacups and teapots, generally Royal Albert and Royal Doulton. It is a source of anguish to me that the modern variations have changed from fine bone china to clunky thick china. Tea and coffee should only be drunk from fine bone china - but I have found that both taste just as good from a glass! When I am out I barely even notice any more that I am drinking from a glass and not a cup.

I do have a nice tea cup, I bought it here very cheaply (remember a previous blog, it pays to shop around). It is actually my third cup here, the cats broke the other two. I also have a china teapot which I bought here from the same shop. It's pretty although a little small, but it's extremely functional. I don't know whether it's by accident or design, but the spout is set at exactly the right angle and very few tea leaves come out when I pour.

So what is today's moral? Well actually it's a roundabout way of shameless self publicity. When you drink tea you should read a book, and hey, I know just the book for you and here's the link :)

At least I hope the link will work. And for those of you that don't go to Amazon to check it out and read the first couple of chapters that are available free, in my next blog I will add them so you're not getting out of it that easy. Lately I've had a couple of people who have read it send me messages to say they really liked it. You have no idea how a writer's fragile ego is boosted by even the most casual of praise. So go, buy my book so I can afford to live, and tell all your friends. I'm a little tired of being the epitome of starving author :)

Tea Egyptian Style:

Most usually served:

Coffee and tea:

The quiet little coffee shop:

And no, you can't buy a Bob Marley from that shop:

My current tea cup and teapot:

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