I went quite insane yesterday when I saw that our big chain supermarket, Cub Foods, now carries Barry’s Irish Tea. It wasn’t very expensive, either. Previously I was ordering it online and anxiously awaiting for its arrival, or making a special trip to Kowalski’s and copping it at their premo prices.
What is with us Irish types and the tea tradition? Is it some sort of recessive gene? We’re (and I’m using the collective “we” as in “we Irish Americans” blah blah blah I have Irish relatives still living over there on the old sod) pretty famous for our obsession with tea, proudly outdoing our British rivals.
I did a little cursory “GTS,” you know, Google That Shit (hey, that’s a real technical term), and came up with this item:
Graham Clifford of Independent.ie writes:
Since the early 1800s, it’s oiled the mechanics of our chatterbox nation. Having the cup of tea, which was first introduced to Ireland by the Anglo-Irish aristocracy, is not so much the desire for a hot tasty beverage as it is to take part in a social ritual.
Incredibly Ireland is the leading consumer of tea per capita on the planet. We consume 2.71kg – or 1,200 cups – each year.
When JFK visited his home place in New Ross in 1963, he was handed a cup of tea and in more recent years Mrs. Doyle banged a familiar drum on Father Ted, asking all in sundry if they’d have a cup – and not taking no for an answer. Some say it calms the nerves, others that it has medicinal properties. One thing everyone can agree on is that it’s accompanied millions of fireside chats through the years in Irish homes.
Ah yes, the medicinal properties – once my Uncle Jack took us out on Nana Walsh’s big wooden row boat when we were staying up at her lake cabin in Highland Lakes, New Jersey (the cabin was named Cooga Doon, after the village in Ireland where she grew up.) We stayed out on the lake all day, and I had no sun protection whatsoever. Redhead that I am, I was sunburned very severely by the end of the day. They placed me in a tub full of teabags and cool water – something about the tannic acid reducing the inflammation. I probably should have gone to the emergency room, but tea did the trick.
Growing up, we were given tea for upset stomachs, colds, flu, and just about any affliction. Tea made everything better.
It’s been rumored that used teabags placed on eyelids can help to reduce the redness and swelling from bad hangovers. Having never been hung over, I can’t attest to this. Tea doesn’t help to alleviate fibbing.
I find that the caffeine element in tea is different from coffee. I require coffee first thing in the morning – and I am very particular about the brand of coffee I drink now as well (Peets – I know, I’m like a caffeine snob.) But when I’m in that slumpy mode after 3:00 in the afternoon it’s got to be a nice cuppa tea. It seems to revive and calm nerves at the same time.
Is it just years of conditioning that makes me believe I feel better?
Who cares? I’ve got Barry’s. Time to put the kettle on.