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  • Writer's pictureNancy, Hostess of Cup & Crown

Té en España (Tea in Spain)

Buenos días!

Did I really just start my Anglophile-based blog in Spanish? Sí!

I've recently became engrossed in the series "The Great British Bake-Off" [though it tests my resolve to minimize the sweets and carbs I ingest as each episode makes me crave sponge cake, savory breads, and custard-filled-and-frosted anything]. I have even recruited my husband and daughter to watch it with me most evenings. Though Hubby enjoys the competitive aspect and culinary lessons on bread-baking the show offers, he recently remarked, "I wonder if there are there any shows about Spanish cuisine?"

I cannot escape - nor do I want to - my marital ties to Spanish history and culture. My husband's family hails from Uruguay where, before him, his great-grandparents emmigrated from Spain. Always wanting to please, I grabbed my phone and tried to find a series that focuses on Spanish foods, but to no avail. What I did find were a couple of articles about tea drinking in Spain. Naturally, I was intrigued!

According to Enforex, a website and blog dedicated to teaching Spanish language and culture, tea has traditionally been used medicinally in Spain and is typically taken when one is feeling unwell. "In a country like Spain, with a coffee and chocolate culture dating back centuries, drinking tea used to be pretty strange. Herbal teas were linked with health and there weren't may varieties available apart from classics like chamomile [...] or star anise..." The article continues to explain that things have changed in recent years, and one will now find tea cafes and stores that offer a range of black, white, green, and red teas. This is largely due to the ever-increasing popularity of tea around the world. The blog also attributes this to "Spain's fascination with all things British. Period films, series about aristocracy and servants {I'd like to inject that they are very likely referring to my beloved "Downton Abbey"}, books about glamorous families or witty stories full [of] Britain's famous dry humor. Why not take part in this distinctive culture with a nice cup of Darjeeling?"

Why not, indeed!

Another article called "Guide to Drinking Tea in Spain" on supports that an array of teas may be found in Moroccan tea rooms, called Teterias, in cities like Granada and Madrid: "There you can find aromatic teas, Moorish pastries, pancakes, and other light refreshments." The article continues to offer hints on what teas are popular and specific venues from which to purchase tea.

Cultural influence doesn't flow in one direction, mind you. Don't be surprised to discover afternoon tea in a British establishment with fare from other countries. In London, the Halkin Hotel and its Michilin-starred Basque restaurant, Ametsa, was (pre-COVID) offering a unique Spanish-themed afternoon tea, that offered a tantalizing array of tapas. Afternoon tea traditionalists (I admit to being one of them) may scoff at the idea of any food that strays from scones and mini sandwiches; but according to the Tripsavvy blog, "Afternoon tea purists will be pleased to see at least one finger sandwich, toasted and containing Spanish piquillo peppers and avocado [...] pork croquettes and finally [...] a beautifully crisp spider crab tempura." The article is full of delicious descriptions of the Ametsa afternoon tea tapas - a nice read if you enjoy Spanish cuisine.

In one of my earliest blogs, I wrote that I travel with my own tea, not wanting be without my favourite morning beverage nor to be at the mercy of tepid or improperly steeped tea [you can read that blog by clicking here]. In recent years, I have conversed with several English ex-pats who proudly explain to me that they always travel with not only their own tea but their own tea service when their travel is outside of British territories, usually with the caveat that "This isn't necessary when you travel through Britain as every establishment offers a proper tea."

Across the globe, tea is now only second to water as the most popular beverage, and Spain takes no exception to that claim. As our world begins to emerge from the lockdowns and restrictions imposed by the pandemic, maybe it's time to add Spain to your travel plans. Because now you can not only get your tapas, but you can have your té, too!

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