Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Scottish Breakfast Tea Arrives

One of the things I love most about blogging is the way we can get to know people on the other side of the world, share a love of a place, food or pastime with strangers, who we soon feel are friends, and if we are lucky enough to meet them in ‘real’ life we do discover that they are indeed old friends.

I have a nostalgic love of Scotland from a childhood spent visiting grandparents in Edinburgh, being dragged protesting up mountains from picturesque cottages in remote areas of the north as a reluctant teenager, visiting historic houses and castles and picturing myself living there and enough Scottish blood in my veins to be entitled to a wear a kilt if I ever felt so inclined.

I’ve been reading Sophia’s blog Scotland for the Senses for ages, delighting in her gorgeous photos of Scotland’s landscapes and castles, seascapes and cloudscapes, all a million miles from where I am now in South Africa. There is something about the light in Scotland that she captures, which is so different from the light here, even though we also have endless mountains and coastline. Every now and again Sophia generously holds a giveaway of something Scottish and I got lucky last month and won some Scottish Breakfast Tea samples from the Edinburgh Tea and Coffee Company.

Since living in South Africa I’ve become a dedicated rooibos tea drinker, naturally caffeine free bush tea which is full of antioxidants and tastes great black and unsweetened. But I grew up drinking proper tea made with leaves in a warmed teapot: Ceylon tea for breakfast and China tea at tea-time: perhaps smoky Lapsang Souchong or an Earl Grey blend. We had a proper tea caddy and I learned early how to warm the pot and then  put in one teaspoon of tea per person and one for the pot, before adding the water on the boil and letting it brew for a few minutes.

Obviously I still have a hankering for these ancient traditions, as I jumped at Sophia’s offer and was very excited about the arrival of a small package yesterday with the promised tea and a gorgeous postcard of Edinburgh castle and Princes Street gardens. I solemnly brewed myself a cup mid-morning today. It seemed to require more than just a biscuit to go with it, so I made a slice of slightly singed toast with marmalade, which was just perfect. Sitting in our South African kitchen, winter rain blowing outside, one child doing sums for holiday homework, another watching a world cup DVD of the best players, I could picture myself in my grandmother’s Edinburgh basement kitchen thirty years ago, preparing to go out to Jenners or up Arthur’s Seat, finishing breakfast, looking out at her neat city garden. I don’t know whether I ever did drink Scottish Breakfast tea there, but it felt like I did as I sipped at it here. It was full bodied and strong but not overwhelming and with a lighter top note that just tickled the taste buds. I generously allowed my husband a cup and he agreed that it was a very superior tea indeed! I hope we haven’t spoiled him for Five Roses!

So thank you Sophia for sharing the tastes of Scotland with your readers, it is much appreciated!


  1. It is amazing how taste and smell can transport one to another time! I finally visited Scotland a few years ago and have to agree that there is something very magical about it!

  2. Sophia is one of the best there is - blogger, friend, and sender of cool stuff. I was a lucky winner of a contest of hers, and the warm fuzzies still linger. And that blog of hers... gah! Gives me goose bumps every time. Scotland is my "heart home". My people (The MacRaes) and my husband's people (The MacLennans) at one time occupied Eilean Donan castle tegither. Sigh!

    Enjoy your tea!

  3. Wow...! Cool story. Tea is healthy, but excessive levels of its not good. I like tea too. Thanks Kit. Nice to see you.

    (Health Care with Food)

  4. What a wonderful gift! Your tea experience sounds wonderful. I think you're right about the light in Scotland--and northern England, too. When I lived there five years ago, I took a lot of pictures, and I have never seen a sky like that anywhere else before or since.


Thanks for your comments - I appreciate every one!