Today being St. Patrick’s Day, I could not resist sharing a bit about my roots. Both my mother’s and father’s sides of the family hail from the Emerald Isle; specifically Dublin, Ballinah and Corbalah. They survived the potato famine and a host of other difficulties before finally emigrating to America in the 1920’s. One thing that we often hear about the Irish is that they drink more tea per capita than any other country in the world. I don’t believe that there is actually scientific proof of this but I suppose that could be where I get the bug from. Although they prefer tea bags (still working on that!), nearly all of my family members are regular tea drinkers.
The Irish prefer a stronger tea than the English so if you are looking for a cup with a punch, look no further than an Irish Breakfast tea. Aromatic with plenty of astringency, they are usually blends of several different black teas but Assam is a very common component. Tea is taken with milk and sugar in Ireland and even I will add these when drinking such a strong tea. I don’t sip them often but when I do, it brings to mind my ancestors and the stories that I’ve heard about them. Sadly, none of them involve tea but they are treasured all the same. I can’t give you my recipe but I will tell you that nothing goes with a cup of Irish Breakfast quite like soda bread. It has a reputation for being dry but the best recipes are deliciously moist (hint: look for sour cream in the ingredient list).
The other day I came across the quote that I think perfectly sums up the Irish people and their love of tea.
In Ireland, you go to someone’s house, and she asks you if you want a cup of tea. You say no, thank you, you’re really just fine. She asks if you’re sure. You say of course you’re sure, really, you don’t need a thing. Except they pronounce it ting. You don’t need a ting. Well, she says then, I was going to get myself some anyway, so it would be no trouble. Ah, you say, well, if you were going to get yourself some, I wouldn’t mind a spot of tea, at that, so long as it’s no trouble and I can give you a hand in the kitchen. Then you go through the whole thing all over again until you both end up in the kitchen drinking tea and chatting. In America, someone asks you if you want a cup of tea, you say no, and then you don’t get any damned tea. I liked the Irish way better.
― C.E. Murphy, Urban Shaman
While we are on the subject of the Irish and tea, Jen over at International Tea Moment put together a wonderful menu for an Irish tea party. I am dying to try the Irish herb scones recipe that she included.