What do naturalists and tea have in common? Well, ostensibly not much, but there is a connection. John Muir, a Scottish-American naturalist, once famously said, “throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence.”
I couldn’t agree more. A lot of my recent articles have had to do with tea and travelling: different places to stop for tea on your travels, how to ensure a good cup of tea while away from home, different ways to travel with tea, and even the ups and downs of borrowed teawares. Tea is an indispensable part of travelling for me and, considering the quizzical looks I sometimes get when I explain this, John Muir’s quote is a good reminder that I am far from the first person to feel this way.
To John Muir (who was born in 1838 and died in 1914), tea is one the essential items to take with you on a spontaneous adventure. He made many such forays into the natural areas of the United States, spending a lot of time in Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada mountains in California. He always travelled light. However, although he may not have taken seemingly essential items such as a tent and camping gear, tea he could not do without. This may raise some eyebrows from those of you who are well versed in the challenges of backpacking and camping, but Muir’s prioritising of tea is perhaps not as outlandish as it sounds. Many of us turn to tea for comfort and calm, and for tea drinkers it really is a foundation of the daily routine. What better item, then, to take with you on an excursion into unfamiliar places? When surrounded by forests, mountains, and lakes, it is even more important to have a small piece of familiar, domestic comfort.
As a closing observation on Muir’s quote, the description of a “pound” of tea implies that it was loose leaf tea, rather than bags (they are rarely, if ever, quantified by weight). And a pound of tea, as any of you bulk tea buyers will know, is enough to last a good amount of time. John Muir clearly had his priorities right!
Camping with Tea
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