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  • Writer's pictureNancy, Hostess of Cup & Crown

Have Tea, Will Travel

The temperatures have risen. In Virginia, it’s practically an overnight occurrence. We seem to skip from 60’s to 90’s faster than I can change my sweater to a tank top. And now that the COVID-19 restrictions are slowly lifting across the country, it’s time to see something other than the same rooms we’ve been confined to these last 4 months. Our original vacation plans canceled (or at least postponed until more assurances for a healthy respite), we head south to be in wide open spaces & enjoy one of the few things that we can in socially-distant environments: The Beach.

Packing for a family is always a challenge that requires To Do and To Pack lists, especially for Type-A organized people like my hubby & me. And topping my To Pack list is TEA. Because I don’t leave my tea choices to venues that believe “Black Tea” and “Green Tea” is a good variety for their patrons. Of course, I’m speaking as a Tea Snob, which most people aren’t. So ensuring I still enjoy my morning cuppa is in my hands.

Always preferring loose-leaf to bagged teas (though Twinings is acceptable in a pinch), my travel choices will depend on the amenities available. Am I staying some place that has a kitchen? Is the kitchen stocked with a kettle? Can I get milk or sugar or lemon?

Restaurants will always be able to provide the things you need: cup, spoon, hot water, sugar, milk... but again, their tea choices will likely be limited. If you’re someone who doesn't want to lower your standards while away, here are some travel suggestions and points to ponder so you can still enjoy quality tea in transit…

Cup/mug - Verify your room's amenities with the hotel; most provide a cup at the very least or even mugs. I don’t recommend packing your own mug because of the space they take in your suitcase and/or their fragility. If space is not a problem for you, consider bringing your own insulated thermos.

Boiled water - Tepid water is NOT an option! Hotel rooms usually provide a small coffee-maker that can be used to dispense hot water without adding coffee or a filter. Rented houses or condos will likely have a standard or electric kettle and a coffee-maker or Keurig (again, sans a filter or coffee). Learn ahead of time what devices, if any, are at your disposal. When absolutely necessary, but never ideal, a microwave can be used to heat water.

Infuser or steeping bags - Today’s infusers come in many shapes & sizes. A collapsible infuser, such as the Tuffy Steeper, is a great travel choice because it’s created for easy use and compact storage. Steeping bags can also be travel-friendly as you can pre-measure and fill bags for individual servings. Brands like T-Sac can be ironed closed so the leaves don’t fall out (brilliant!). Place your loose-leaves and individual sachets in a sealable bag to keep them fresh. Your little “tea kit” will take very little space in your travel case.

Sugar/milk/lemon - If you prefer your tea somehow other than plain, you may need to travel with your own accoutrements if your “home away from home” doesn’t provide them. Sugar or sweetener packets are easy to add to your travel tea cache. Dried honey can be found in some supermarkets and can travel well in small baggies like sugar [its a substitute but not exactly like real honey]. Milk and lemon are trickier as refrigeration is required. When at home, I like lemon in many of my teas. But for most of my travels, I rely on teas that I prefer without lemon or milk so that I don’t miss those additional flavours. 

Don’t forget a spoon! After taking the trouble to pack my teas and sugar, I realized my hotel room had neither a spoon nor stirrer; so the sugar sat in the bottom of my cup and remained unblended. I was scurrying around looking for something that would suffice. The handle of my toothbrush won out. After a quick wash, of course. 

Another way to ensure you can have high-quality tea when you travel is to vacation in regions that produce or provide high-quality teas in most of their establishments - China, Japan, India - where most of the aforementioned things need not be considered… which is just one more reason why traveling to UK always tops my list. There's always a hot cuppa just around the corner. And there’s probably a good scone nearby to go with it.

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