I am a traveller (you can tell this in part from the fact that I spell “traveller” the British way!). One of the biggest challenges when travelling (again, the British spelling!) is to maintain some normal routines so you do not feel too destabilised and completely surrounded by the unfamiliar. For me, an important routine is tea drinking. Apart from not wanting to settle for lesser or downright undrinkable tea, having my tea is important for maintaining a sense of familiarity and balance when on the road for an extended period of time.
The strategy that I choose for travelling with tea depends on how long I will be away:
1-3 days: I might just not bother bringing anything with me. Chances are I will have access to a decent brand of bagged tea, or I can seek out a tea room if I am really desperate. If I think both of these options are unlikely, I might throw a few PG Tips tea bags into my suitcase so that I can at least be assured of having my black tea in the morning.
Up to 2 weeks: This is too long to go without a guaranteed supply of good tea. While in many places it is possible to pick up some good quality loose tea, either from a tea shop or a specialty food store, in others it is not. Additionally, buying tea adds to the expenses of travel; when I have excellent tea at home that I have already spent money on I find it difficult to justify this extra expenditure. So my solution? I bring some loose tea with me!
Since a week or two is not such a long time, I’ll throw some of my favourite teas into Ziploc bags. While this is not a good option for storage in the long term, it is perfectly adequate for a short period of time. The bags are airtight, they do not take up a lot of space, and you will create more room in your suitcase as you use the tea up. I’ll also bring a tea ball, or a mug infuser with me to steep the tea.
Another option is to buy some tea filters and create some DIY teabags before leaving on your trip. This takes more preparation time, and it may irk those for whom steeping their tea loose is paramount. However, it can be more convenient for on the road, as you can just throw your ready-made tea bag into a cup or mug and skip the hassle of emptying and cleaning your infuser.
More than 2 weeks: This is when things really get serious. I know that I will be away long enough to really need the stability that my tea routines provide, and I am unlikely to find the exact teas that I prefer in my various locations. For trips this long, I select my cannot-do-without teas (usually 3-4) and put them in small travel sized tins to bring with me. This takes up a little more room in the suitcase, but ultimately is worth it because I have the teas that I want when I want them. I bring along an infuser (no teapots, sadly— that would be taking things a little too far!), or perhaps also a travel mug with an infuser, and I am all set.
With tea in bag and travel mug in hand, I am then ready to embark on my adventures, knowing that however unfamiliar and strange things get, I’ll be able to return to a familiar, comforting cup of tea.
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