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Tea Like Our Grandparents Made

Steeping teabags in the teapot just like grandpa did. (Stock image)
Steeping teabags in the teapot just like grandpa did. (Stock image)

The way we enjoy tea has changed over the generations. Many of us no longer make tea like our grandparents did. We’ve learned about the variety of teas out there and the variety of infusing methods. But sometimes looking back and giving those old, reliable methods a go can be good, too.

How Our Grandparents Made Tea

Grandparents alive today were most likely alive when the teabag first came into popular use (around 1944, just before the start of World War II). The most popular story of how teabags came about is that a tea vendor mailed out sample bags (made of silk) of its tea to prospective customers. They, in turn, dunked silk bag and all in hot water to steep the tea. It proved so handy and time-saving that soon most tea drunk in this country (and in some European countries) was bagged, not loose. Our grandparents would put several bags in their teapots and steep up the tea, then pull out and discard the bags. Sometimes, if they were in a hurry and not having guests over, they would just dunk that teabag into their mug of hot water until it was dark enough. Many still use teabags these days, although some of us (yours truly included) have foregone the teabag in favor of loose leaf teas. You could say that most folks stick with making tea like their grandparents made.

Other Grandpas of Tea

  • A store in Texas called “Grampa’s Tea” where their teas are micro-blended (that is, hand-blended in small batches) and have real dried fruit pieces, flowers, and herbs in some of them for extra flavor and fragrance.
  • A tea vendor with a tea called “Great Grandfather’s Tea.” It is from a single tea estate (Diyagama Estate in the Dimbula region of Sri Lanka) that has been growing and producing fine tea for over 120 years (thus the tea’s name). It is a BOP (Broken Orange Pekoe) black tea with a bold flavor that can stand up to milk or is even pleasant on its own. That flavor comes from the elevation (3,500 to 5,500 feet above sea level) and the monsoon rains plus cold, dry weather.
  • Numerous books and images of grandchildren having a “grandpa’s tea” with Grandpa. Again, tapping into those positive vibes the term generates in many of us.

The Meaningless Term “Grandpa Style Tea”

The term “grandpa style” was made up by a tea blogger and seems to have no real relation to how our grandparents (at least those here in the U.S.) had tea. Some think it refers to a style of infusing tea away from home where you toss some loose leaves into a clear glass and add hot water, or you can even do this using cold water (the infamous cold-brewing), and then there are those steeping glasses that have the filter on the lid. But in reality, it is just a meaningless term. The style of tea infusion the blogger described has no real term associated with it. The blogger is merely hijacking a word (“grandpa”) that evokes positive associations in many of us.

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

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