Have you heard of East Frisian tea? You probably haven’t. With the recent celebration of Oktoberfest, it got me wondering about how Germans drink their tea. My research then led me to the East Frisians and their tea culture.
So who are the East Frisians?
East Frisians are a Germanic ethnic group originating from the upper northwest corner of Germany, in the Lower Saxony region that borders the North Sea. The East Frisians can drink up to 300 liters of tea a year per person! They even overtake the British in the tea category.
How do the East Frisians take their tea?
East Frisians enjoy a good cup of Assam tea poured into porcelain cups (usually adorned with East Frisian roses) with a piece of rock candy gem, or Kluntje, which are either white (weißer* kandis) or brown (brauner kandis). The kluntje will then dissolve slowly to help bring out the sweetness.
You can also add some milk or cream to your tea but to get the truly unique experience of East Frisian tea, do not stir it. In fact, it’s traditional not to stir your cup of tea. The reason for this is because this helps bring out a unique taste in each sip. The flavors are layered out from milk, tea, and sugar.
The rest of Germany unfortunately does not practice the Frisian tea ritual so it’s extra special in the East Frisian islands. The Frisians are very punctual when it comes to their tea with tea times typically starting at 3PM but you may see some drinking tea at a less traditional time like noon or 7PM. Part of the East Frisian tea etiquette is to drink at least three cups of tea before you can say no more! When you finish, turn your cup upside down or your teaspoon into your cup to signal you are finished.
Now, you can travel to East Frisia to experience the real deal but until then, you can have your own East Frisian tea ceremony right at home. East Frisians use their own special blend of Assam tea but you can use any Assam if you can’t get the East Frisian blend.
*The ß is called an Eszett which is pronounced with a sharp “s”. So when you see a ß, then that also means “ss”. For example, weißer can be spelled as weisser.