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Stopping for Tea in Stockholm

Considering that the Swedes are avid coffee drinkers, stopping for tea in Stockholm might seem like a futile endeavour. But, as this intrepid tea explorer discovered, that is far from true.

My Stockholm tea experience, complete with tasty bun! (photo by Elise Nuding, all rights reserved)
My Stockholm tea experience, complete with tasty bun! (photo by Elise Nuding, all rights reserved)

Despite the prevailing image of America as a nation of coffee addicts, the land of the free and the home of the brave is far outstripped by not just one or two, but a number of countries in terms of coffee drinking. This includes Sweden, which is right up there in terms of coffee consumption per capita — depending on what statistics you look at, Sweden numbers between second and sixth on the list.

In other words, the Swedes are not tea drinkers in the way that the British are; that is, tea drinking does not feature in daily rituals and survival tactics in quite the same way that it does across the pond. However, tea drinkers will be pleased to discover that this does not mean that finding a decent cuppa in Stockholm is out of the question. In fact, far from it — I was surprised (and pleased!) to discover that most, if not all, of the cafés that I stopped into in Stockholm seemed to offer some sort of tea selection. And I am not talking about a couple of bagged options — almost every café that I stopped into offered a decent range of loose teas!

One such example is the café Under Kastanjen ( ‘Under the Chestnut Tree’). This café is located in the heart of Gamla Stan (‘the old city’), where narrow winding streets are filled with beautiful old buildings of various shades of red, orange, and yellow. This café’s tea selection includes the standard options of English Breakfast and Earl Grey, but they also offer three rooibos infusions, an herbal infusion, a white tea, sencha, and a few fruity tea blends. One of these is a green tea with lemon called ‘Hot Summer’, another combines apple with dried flowers, and yet another blend, called the ‘Favourite Tea’ uses tropical fruits. Not so shabby for a coffee drinking nation!

Being in a more conventional mood (and in need of a little caffeine boost!), I opted against the various green and fruity blends for a classic cup of Earl Grey. Their loose tea is served in a sachet, which might disappoint some of you hard-core loose tea devotees (devoteas?), and this was the case for most of the cafés I stopped into. However, considering that we are talking about standard cafés (as opposed to specialty tea cafés) in a nation of coffee drinkers, I am not inclined to fault them too much for this. The Earl Grey blend was a good one— light and fragrant rather than strong, which suited me perfectly. And accompanied by a ‘Kastanjen bun’ full of almond paste (a twist on the classic Swedish cinnamon bun), it made for a delicious afternoon cuppa.

My Stockholm adventures were full of pleasant surprises, and the abundance of good quality, loose leaf teas certainly ranks high on that list; travelling tea drinkers can rest assured that they will not be without options if they choose to stop by Stockholm.

See more of Elise Nuding’s articles here.

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