Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A nice cup of tea


My obsessions and addictions have varying life spans. The horsy one has lasted more than three decades; the smoking one went on for 18 years before I beat it; the David Bowie one even longer and is still going strong; the Johnny Depp one is now into its second decade while the Toby Stephens-as-Mr Rochester one is a mere whippersnapper.

My latest obsession is in its infancy and I hope to stamp it out before it manages to take root. The problem is, I have the taste for it but not the means to satisfy my desire.

It’s all the fault of my colleague who has just returned from a Mediterranean cruise. He and I have a cup of Earl Grey at 10am every morning; you can set your watch by his tea-making timetable. His holiday gift to me was a handful of individually packaged Earl Grey teabags, pilfered from the ship.

Initially the maker’s name – Bigelow – caused me great hilarity. In my juvenile fashion, I thought this moniker more suited to a hirsute actor of the Dirk Diggler persuasion than a purveyor of fine teas. I was also rather sniffy that he had brought me an Americanised version of a quintessentially English tea. I had always lumped the French and Americans together when it came to hot beverages: stick to the coffee.

I opened the little envelope on which there was written a lovely exhortation to enjoy “this delicately scented aristocratic blend”, signed by David and Eunice Bigelow. The first mark in its favour was the fact it had a string: I love teabags with strings as I usually fish them out of the cup with my fingers. Then the tea itself. Well, what can I say? Absolutely, totally, gorgeously divine.

Google showed no UK sellers. An email to David and Eunice confirmed this to be the case. Even with the strong pound, it will cost £25 to have a supply delivered. I only have one Bigelow Earl Grey teabag left. I am at my wits’ end …

22 comments:

dulwichmum said...

Dear M&M,

Are they American sweetie? I am sorry it is late, and I am not very bright after a hard day at work. If they are American, email me, and I shall ask my lovely man to try to find you some when he is out there next.

DM

Brom said...

I am a tea junkie, but not the old Earl.. sorry.

So, so glad you kicked the habit. I sometimes work with a heavy smoker, his cough is terrible, but he still goes out in the pouring rain to pollute the air. July is coming!!

Drunk Mummy said...

I have always thought Earl Grey tastes a bit 'floral' - but M&M, for £25 a pop you could have a decent bottle of champagne, or even better, 4 bottles of Waitrose's La Marca Prosecco!

mutterings and meanderings said...

Darling Dulwichmum, they are indeed, thankyou, I will email you ...

Brom, Earl Grey was from just along the road from me. Not only a creator of a divine cuppa, but a Northumbrian too. Who could ask for more?

DRunk Mummy, I think the fact I can't gte it makes me want it more ....

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Urrrgh! Earl Grey! I have some friends who always serve this bilge water so when they say "tea?" I have to respond "Would you mind if I have a coffee instead?" They don't seem to have got the message that compared with real tea ("Tetleys" of course) Earl Grey is quite disgusting. Sorry if this upsets you - I guess I'm just an ignorant northerner anyway so what do I know? My tastebuds are used to pie and peas and scampi and chips. Sophistication appalls me.

Stay at home dad said...

I have to agree with DM, as ever. £25?!!

I do like Earl Bilge though. The Twinings does me at £2 or so a pop.

Sahd.

Anonymous said...

yp - I'm with you 100% of the way.

Tetley's may not be perfect, but if it is good enough for 100 million Indians then they must be doing something right. Personally I was brought up on Glengettie, but it is getting harder to find these days.

Yorkshire Tea is okay, but I don't think it is anything to really write home about. But Twining's Breakfast Tea is what the Empire was built on - so I suspect being a Guardian reader I shouldn't enjoy it quite as much as I do...

mutterings and meanderings said...

YP, you are marvellous! Earl Grey is a Northern tea -see the link to Earl Grey in the blog .. he was from aboput 6 miles away from me...

SAHD, yep, I like the Twinings too. I used to work with a distant relative of the tea Twinings. She became a TV announcer.

Anon, I do drink lots of 'ordinary' tea, or 'bog standard' as we refer to it to differentiate it from the EG, too.

rilly super said...

M&M, your exhortations to your american readers to help you out of this situation are admirably subtle and utterly free of emotional pressure :-)

what do they put in this tea that's different from out own earl grey I'd like to know. Is it some Colombian smuggling trick perhaps, which would account for your rapidly aquired dependance on the stuff...

Mopsa said...

Me, I'm a waterbaby - can't stand milk, so posh Earl Grey or Lady Grey does it for me when I'm in need of summat hot. Oters in the house swear by Yorkshire tea. But if this place can't find you the best EG going, I'll be amazed: http://shop.teapalace.co.uk/

debio said...

Liptons Tea is the only tea available here in shed-loads. Every other 'sophisticated' type only available intermittently - but, Harvey Nics to the rescue, stocking Earl Grey, Lapsang, Breakfast, Afternoon etc., and giving me the perfect excuse to honour their portals every few days.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

I think you should big up David and Eunice a bit more and they may well send you a case?

I should delete Rilly's comment though before they slap a lawsuit on you!!!
Pigx

lady macleod said...

I, on the other hand, would pay dearly to be able to have Earl Grey tea LEAVES in the Maghreb. I am grateful that Marjane stocks the bags at least so that I do not languish.

I am not familiar with that brand but I am glad you have found something that you enjoy so much. Always a good thing.

muddyboots said...

very expensive earl grey l would say @£25.00.
what about a cheaper alternaitve? Must say l do like a cup of EG, but is this brand so much better than say Twynings?

@themill said...

£25 - was that for the plantation?

The Secretary said...

Hubby drinks Earl Grey - black with sugar. I am coffee through and through.

Omega Mum said...

Why not become the UK distributor - and add a new string to your bow, albeit one attached to a teabag.....?

Eurodog said...

Why is it "a nice cup of tea"? Let's have a nice cup of tea!
Could it be the opposite?

Brom said...

Anonymous: I also an a Glengettie boy from the valleys, still drink it, available from Tescos and Waitrose

mutterings and meanderings said...

Well, colleague has emailed his cruise company with a very sooky letter about how much he enjoyed his cruise and alerting it to our plight of being Bigelow tea-less. he has told them he is a journalist so we shall see..

Rilly, I don't know what's in it, but it is truly different and divine.

Mopsa, that's tea porn, that site is!

Cor Debio, I never knew there was a Harvey Nics in Dubai!

Pig, I'm sure David and Eunince would realise Rilly is only speaking in jest ...

Lady M, rip 'em out of the bags and brew up...

Muddyboots - welcome - & @themill - the majority of the price is for shipping from the US, rather than the tea itself ...

Secretary, my mum's the same as you ..

Omega Mum, the thought crossed my mind ..

Eurodog, I have had some not nice cups of tea in my time! I am very fussy about my hot drinks!

Brom, I may well try this Glengettie stuff now I have two recommendations.

dulwichmum said...

Don't forget Sweetie,

I can ask James to bring you some home. Please don't pay £25 for it. He really is the best personal shopper!

It would be a pleasure.

DM

Sarnia said...

SO agree with you about Toby Stephens (I think he's Maggie Smith's son).

Bloody gorgeous. Almost as gorgeous as the blurke wot was in (oop) Norf and South (Gaskell).