This summer has been a busy one for sports fans. While I do not usually consider myself a “sports fan,” there are a few international sporting events that I enjoy watching, namely international football (soccer to those of you in the States) and tennis. So, the almost simultaneous occurrence of Euro 2012 and the Wimbledon Championships over the last month or so (they overlapped for a week) was quite a cause for excitement.
Neither of these sporting events registers as heavily on the American sports radar as, say, the Superbowl, nor do they come with the same association of celebratory occasions filled with friends, food, and drink. Tea does not usually fit into that equation, so perhaps for us tea drinkers that is a good thing. But for something so inherently international, what better time to enjoy tea than during events where teams and individuals from all over the world compete?
During Euro 2012, I decided to theme my tea drinking to match the countries playing. Clearly the obvious connections were out, because the big tea producing countries— such as China, Japan, or India—were not in the draw. But this gave me a chance to be a little more creative, and delve into the complex cultural dissemination of tea discussed in one of my previous articles. For example, when I watched Sweden play, I brewed up the last of my Söderblandning, the classic Swedish tea; for France I revisited the Harney & Sons “Paris” blend; for England, well there were countless options there, and I made my way through substantial amounts of Early Grey, Lady Grey, and PG Tips over the course of several games.
For me, the Euro 2012 matches were a more informal affair, and I often enjoyed a pot of tea with friends, chatting and following the games at the same time. Wimbledon, however, was another matter. Is there any sport more nail-biting than tennis? Often I would brew myself some tea only to get completely wrapped up in a nerve-wracking break point, or impossibly long rally, and forget all about it. I had to re-boil water or re-make over-steeped tea more than a couple of times. Hot tea cooled to room temperature before I got around to drinking it, and iced tea was decidedly not iced when I reached the bottom of the glass. That said, I found a cup of tea highly necessary to calm frayed nerves as the various players I was rooting for either held their game, or were knocked out of the championships.
Although tea is far from a traditional accompaniment to sports events, especially in the US, it is fun to explore the ways you can make it part of the occasion. And if you are not a sports fan of any kind, well, what better way to make any games you are made to sit through into an enjoyable experience!
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