A cup of tea can be a hand-warmer, especially when you are out on a cold winter day in Germany shopping for gifts at a Kristkindlmarkt. Sure, there are open fires where chestnuts are roasting and filling the air with their wonderful scent, but sooner or later you will need to drift away to a booth selling some adorable item that you just know your favorite aunt, niece, nephew, etc., will love.
“Kristkindlmarkt” basically means “Christmas Angel Market” and is an open air market usually set up in the town square (Nuremburg and Munich are the two big ones). Since it takes place during December, the weather is cold and there is a strong likelihood of snow. Still, there are lots of booths manned by people who had worked all year making items to sell for this, ranging from wooden nutcrackers in all shapes/sizes, to Christmas tree ornaments, to clothing and even jewelry. There are also food stands, featuring candied almonds, Bratwurst mit Brot (sausage on a roll), and Pommes Frites mit Katsup oder Mayonnaise (french fries with catsup or mayonnaise) along with Glühwein (hot, mulled wine), heiße Schokolade (hot chocolate) and heis Tee (pronounced “tay”) mit Milch und Sucre (hot tea with milk and sugar).
The one thing I had to deal with continually as an adult was getting the Germans to accept that, no, I really didn’t drink alcohol. For them, beer, wine, and other alcoholic beverages were as common as sodas are here. It seems to be a sort of right of passage. Everywhere I went, every restaurant or gasthaus (inn), every beer or wine fest (I was there for the food, honest!), and every Kristkindlmarkt I got the same reaction: a sort of chuckle when I, an adult, ordered what they often perceived to be a beverage for children. “Heis Tee, Bitte!” (“Hot tea, please!”) I would say and watched their faces take on that amused look. Nevertheless, tea was my favorite “keep warm” beverage while braving the crowds and searching for the perfect gifts.
My days in Germany were before I began expanding my knowledge of tea. However, I suspect that the tea served at these markets was your basic Orange Pekoe black. That’s the tea in those supermarket tea bags, the things that I used to turn to when I needed my morning cuppa. No matter. The tea was hot and kept my fingers from turning into icicles and snapping off which made it easier for me to pull out those coins and bills to pay cash for my gifts at that Kristkindlmarkt. Brrr!
A few years have flown by since I last was in Germany. The memories of those open Christmas markets are still fresh and really come to mind this time of year. Fortunately, people here in the U.S., especially in communities with a lot of German heritage, hold these same style markets. Seek them out and do some great shopping. Don’t forget a nice mug of tea to keep your fingers warm. Ah!
Unlike the Kristkindlmarkt, there’s no need to travel all the way to Germany to visit A.C.’s blog, Tea Time with A.C. Cargill!