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athgarvan

GO ON, HAVE A CUPPA

I am convinced that the modern decline in religious practice in Ireland is a direct result of the introduction of ‘prestigious’ coffee instead of the traditional ‘cuppa’!

Drinking endless cups of tea is the done thing in Ireland. This tea culture is an important Irish custom. In fact, drinking tea is as important here, if not more important, than the Irish alcohol culture. It's a well-known Irish hangover cure: tea and a hearty Irish breakfast. It will kill or cure ya. In fact, the Irish are, apart maybe from Turkey, averaging four to six cups per day with many people drinking even more.

The Irish tea culture dates back to the 1800s. Imported from English merchants, Irish tea was generally of cheaper quality so they added milk to cover up the taste. This, of course, meant that Irish tea had to be brewed stronger than its English counterpart, a custom which still endures. In the 1960s Ireland’s tea companies finally cut out the middleman and started buying their tea straight from the source. Assam tea from India, a very strong, robust tea with a high tannin level, was blended with the lighter-tasting Ceylon from Sri Lanka, giving us the invigorating Irish tea that goes with the well-known Irish breakfast.

Not surprisingly, there is a definite etiquette surrounding tea-drinking in Ireland. It must be either Lyon's or Barry's and is brewed in a teapot, which must be scalded beforehand by swirling hot water around in it and emptied, though making tea in separate mugs is more common today. You must steep the teabags—typically one per cup—in water that has only just been brought to the boil. Of course the very thought of drinking black tea is heresy. A large drop of fresh and good quality milk is essential in producing the typical Irish cup of tea. Sometimes as much as a third of the cup is filled with milk, depending on the tea drinkers’ colour preference. I myself add three spoonfuls of sugar even in these days!

A family must never run out of either tea bags or toilet paper. Running out of tea would cause a minor crisis. Offering the visitor a cup of tea is the backbone of Irish hospitality. When making a ‘cuppa’ a cup must be offered to everyone in the vicinity. Secret tea drinking is considered an outrage.

Of course the best china (but the same tea!) is taken out when posh visitors come, and the humble mug is hidden away.

Comments

I still use a real teapot and loose tea and as a squaddy's daughter, I still drink a LOT of tea! :o)

My time in Belgium also gave me a taste for coffee, I'll admit.

Decaf coffee for me x

the USA being multicultural we have no one custom but we tend to coffee

i prefer coffee but as husband likes tea - plain black with one teaspoon of sugar - i keep Earl Grey and Constant Comment in the house for me
We British love our tea too.
I think the Welsh are as passionate about their tea as the Irish. :)