Just add milk

Tea anywhere else in the world never tastes the same, actually having said that I did have good cups of tea in New Zealand. I have a faint memory of the tea being OK in Australia but maybe someone can confirm that for me? (Ruth?). Moroccan tea seems only to come with mint. Nepalese and Indian tea is milk and loads of sugar all in the pot, take it or leave it, that’s the ways it comes.

American ‘British Breakfast Tea’ was very disappointing, the name doesn’t fit properly and neither does the taste, but I guess they are more coffee drinkers. One of my pet irritants is the America Coffee chain that seems to have wedged itself into the every High Street, is so coffee obsessed that it completely neglects the tea. A sad tea bag floating in the top of not quite hot enough water, an after thought in their in big coffee plans for world domination. You’d think they’d have the courtesy to make an effort with the host nation’s favorite beverage. Frankly, the hot chocolate isn’t up to much either and I don’t drink coffee, so it has become ‘Starbucka non grata’ I have broken off any diplomatic relations.

I am now wondering if that last paragraph made me sound like a potential UKIP candidate.

Support local cafes! There is such a joy is being served a proper cup of tea in a cafe and then finding it’s a really good cup of tea, that small exclamation; “Oh that’s a good cup of tea”. A nice cup of tea does wonders, I am probably overly British in my obsession with tea, but there are moments when as sitting alone for a quiet cup of tea is perfect and just as good is enjoying a cup of tea with a friend. The ritual of making, then sitting down, hands around a hot cup, leaning in to the conversation.

This week has been tea heavy. My enthusiasm of last week has waned and this week, I’ve drunk far too many cups of tea in the style of Her Ladyship Procrastinator of Bristol, whilst sighing heavily and staring at a grey sky, couple this with a house development.

Top of my wish list for the kitchen was a tea station. For those not familiar with the concept of a tea station, it is an area of the kitchen in which all the elements of tea making are gathered in one obvious space. The milk lives a separately (obviously) but a fridge is easily found. The point of the tea station is that anyone visiting the kitchen who has the an invitation and inclination can make tea. I think it’s a very bonding thing to make tea in someone else’s kitchen, it’s rarely an immediate thing, it can take months or years to build towards, there is a special familiarity about it. An alternative view is that I am a lazy and would prefer someone else to put the kettle on.

I bring you the tea station, mostly because I am very pleased with it, combine that with the impending visit of my top tea making friend this weekend. The tea station is primed.

The Yorkshire Tea tin has been in use for years (it no longer contains Yorkshire tea, as that doesn’t taste right in Bristol)

Animal tins, a house-warming gift, contain alternative teas for herbal leanings.

Tea and toast in the making.
Milk, one sugar. How do you take yours?


  1. Claire McDonald

    Yep, milk, one sugar. Makes me feel very seventies, as virtually no-one else I know has sugar! But, maybedue to drinking too many mediocre cups of tea, I’m really a coffee fiend (couldn’t you tell?) and am at this moment sheltering in my local little coffee shop, as it’s much warmer than working from home! And the coffee is better!
    Love the look of your tea station. Especially those beautiful red enamel cups – I want some! xx

    1. helloitsgemma

      I like that ‘seventies’ tea drinking. 
      I love working from a cafe, I feel as if I produce more (I don’t, I people watch) and it makes me think I look more important that I am, as if I’m writing an amazing novel or something, instead of replying to boring emails. 

  2. Lianne

    Ha, I probably won’t make many friends in this country by saying this, but I’d rather drink Earl Grey or Chai, Rooibos, Lapsang Suchong, green tea, jasmin. And I like properly made and served Moroccan mint tea (gunpowder based of course)…delicious!
    If I must drink English breakfast (dare I say it…yes, here we go…) which tastes incredibly boring if you ask me, but if there really is nothing else, then just milk please and please don’t leave the bag stewing away too long, my foreign stomach is not ready for such an attack 😉
    But then again, good company will make even English Breakfast taste ok!
    Nice tea station G, I wish you many pleasant moments with tea & toast. XXX

    1. helloitsgemma

      I do love your comments! I do love a good English cup but Earl Grey is good and I’ve always room for a herbal tea. I think it is what you get used to, I’ve drunk so much tea over the years, I am completely adjusted to tea in a particular way. 

  3. karen Barlow

    So nice to hear somebody else ranting about the take over of our high streets by these coffee chains, it wouldn’t be too bad of their coffee was good either but its mostly like semi warm milk with essence of coffee! I am very British in my love of drinking tea. It has to be well brewed, preferably in a pre warmed teapot with milk added after the tea has been poured into the cup and no sugar for me thanks 🙂 Love the idea of a tea station, very sociable and hospitable and its also nice to have a table in the kitchen for the aid of idle gossip and somewhere to rest the plate of biscuits. I try and support local cafes wherever and whenever possible and a lovely new one has recently opened across the road from our house, which I intend to write a blog about and post some snaps of as soon as time will allow. Love your blog Gemma 🙂 x

  4. Kirsten

    I am a great tea fan too and <3 your tea station, what a great idea! I have all relevant 'tea things' together but displaying them like that as an open invitation is lovely. I agree totally about making tea in someone els's house- that is a definite 'right of passage' to be earned! Being from NZ and just coming back from visiting, my judgement on tea is that it's weaker than the UK, but a better 'flavour'? and the coffee there is STRONG!
    Mine's a Rooibos, with no milk 😉

    1. helloitsgemma

      Ah I love your input on tea comparison! thank you. Rooibos seems to be more popular than I thought, I think I must get some, I completely associate it with South Africa and hot days. 

  5. Emma

    If I am correct in thinking that I know which American Coffee brand you refer to, then I actually think they neglect their coffee making skills too – super yuk!  We are so spoilt here when it comes to coffee with the close proximity to Italy, when it comes to Tea however…..    

  6. Anya from Older Single Mum and The Healer

    I only have a few cups of a tea a week ( I know!) but I do appreciate a tea station and the bonding that occurs when someone else pops on the kettle and makes themselves at home. When I do partake it has to be in the afternoon, with milk and one. I am into liquorice tea at the moment and grow mint in the summer purely for tea – and I highly recommend it. Your home is looking and feeling fabulous 🙂 X 

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