Germany, Tea, and the Radio

Soom Estate Tea (Photo source: The English Tea Store)
Soom Estate Tea (Photo source: The English Tea Store)

I really enjoy listening to radio programmes, as old-fashioned as that may sound, in part because they tend to provide unusual commentary that don’t find their way into other media. I recently enjoyed a radio broadcast even more than I usually do when it unexpectedly veered in the world of tea. This episode of ‘From Our Own Correspondent’ on BBC Radio 4, first broadcast on 2nd March 2013, included some interesting insights into German tea drinking.

According to reporter Steve Evans, the office of one of the Green MPs in the German Bundestag recently switched from coffee to tea as they found “the great British beverage” to be much more soothing. After being quizzed thoroughly on brewing times (down to the second), Evans was offered what he describes as “a cup of insipid, weak Darjeeling, which would have shamed a gnat.” Ouch. Apparently, the cause of this disastrous brew was the fact that they had not made sure that the water was boiling before pouring it into the cup…oh dear.

But despite this inauspicious start, apparently there are many good brands of German tea on the supermarket shelves (we are talking teabags here). Sir Winston, Lord Nelson, Windsor Castle, and Queen’s Club are just a few examples. Hang on, don’t those sound British? Yes, they do, which is exactly the point. But according to Steve Evans, these fancy sounding names do not indicate elite or imported brands, but are instead “the tea that people drink”: Lord Nelson tea is a staple of Lidl, a discount supermarket chain, and Sir Winston is the brand of a Hamburg tea importer which has been in business since 1882.

Steve Evans observes that these naming conventions demonstrate an affinity for the British on the part of the Germans, despite the history. Or maybe they just affirm the association of the British with tea. What is really goes to show, however, is that the Germans, just as much as anyone else, enjoy a good cup of tea. Cheers to that.

See more of Elise Nuding’s articles here.

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