Under the Tea Tree


The Tea Tree
Pleasant memories under the tea tree.
For Sunday Sketches

Tea is from a tree!  It's a tree!
Most of you might already know that.
Here's my story.


Philippines, a long time ago.

Two little red tin cans graced my mothers cupboards.  I think the cans were new, I haven't noticed them before.  The tin cans were decorated with a painting of a lovely Chinese girl in her traditional Chinese costumes.  She had her eyes closed, head slightly tilted to one side, a beautiful fan was spread through her chest. I thought that it was the prettiest can I have even seen. "That's tea, anak," (my child) my mother said gently.  Mesmerized, I must have studied that can for a while.  I was ever curious but more about the tin cans and the Chinese girl rather than what's inside it.  That was my first introduction to tea, I was about 7 years old.

Before long, I remember always having tea with my meals.  Didn't fancy the milk very much, for some reason, I had a hard time swallowing it.  Coffee?  Hmm, smells good, tastes even better.  But the caffeine was too much for me.  I don't think the panic attacks that came with it was worth it.  {What a wimp, eh?} Tea was more soothing in {my opinion}.  A little bit of sugar made it much more enjoyable.  Have you heard of Lipton tea? I thought that was the only kind of tea there is!  Well, besides the herbal concoctions that we make of which the salabat (ginger tea) is the most popular.

http://kagaytrip.blogspot.ca/2013/08/salabat.html
Salabat:  Philippines' traditional ginger tea.
Lime (kalamansi), lemon juice or apple cider can be added for more flavor.
For: Tea Time Tuesdays

Salabat is believed to soothe the stomach and throat. It became a long standing tease that it will make your voice much better if you drink salabat.  {Get ready for that all-time Pilipino past-time of karaoke.}  Lola (grandmother) made powdered salabat when I was young and sold it in the market.  Just add hot water, it was already sweetened.  Delish!

One day, my mother pointed my attention to a Chinese store very close by our vegetable stand in the market (we sold fresh vegetables for a living).  "She sells whole leaf tea," mama said, "you could buy some if you like."  I wasted no time and got myself a pack of her so called "whole leaf tea."  Quite fortunate that I have love ones who were willing to indulge whims like this, hehehe (**wicked chuckles*).

The leaves looked so much like bay leaves, at least that's how they were dried - flat, whole and stiff, of light brownish color.  It was very different from the tea that were in the red tin cans (wulong tea).  It wasn't enough to just steep them in boiled water either, the leaves had to be boiled with the water.  Frankly, I don't remember how it tasted.  I am certain, though, that it was much milder than Lipton black tea and it wasn't as dark in color.  It must have been good for I kept buying tea from that Chinese store.

"On the way home."  La Union, Philippines
My Lolo (grandfather, and I love him so much!) was busy working on a little project on his front yard one day, but he was attentively speaking to me while he worked.  He had a long table filled with gadgets and thingamabobs scattered all over it.  Yet, I was content in my seat, probably curious but not bothered to touch any of his stuff.  "I heard you like tea," his tone was prodding and excited. "Look at this tree," he points at the tree just in front of me, the leaves are almost touching my head, "It's tea!" he declares, sounds like he was waiting for a reaction.  

The house was in a remote country side, there were so many trees, different kinds, and bamboo around.  And we had a tea tree?!? 

"It's tea???" The shriek could have shattered the windows.  I was surprised or shocked more like it, who would have expected that we have a tea tree?  In our backyard?? "But I thought tea grows from a bush?" I protested.  Couldn't believe that tea is a very tall tree.  The foliage was thick, shiny, bright light green.  Maybe because, only the top of the tree gets sunlight.  

Lolo gave me a tea chit chat. He knew a lot about tea, positive stuff (he probably stirred away from any negative on purpose) - like China is the best and foremost producer of tea, how good teas were prepared and how they certainly don't look and feel like dried bay leaves.

After inspecting a leaf, I was convinced... Actually, enlightened:  "It is tea!?!? Wow, I was paying for an expensive pack at the market.  What a rip off!,"  I was having this soliloquy that amused lolo, I could see him trying to hide a grin.  I went ahead and gathered good looking leaves.  "You know, quality teas follows only a-bud-and-two-leaves rule," he says.  Makes sense, even when we harvest leafy vegetables, we only take the new shoots, they are softer and taste better.  But then the tree was enormously high, about 40 feet tall, it wasn't easy to gather just two-leaves-and-a-bud.  Leaves it is!

Henceforth, I was constantly boiling tea for drink.  Because I had a free supply of tea leaves, I also used it for washing my face.  
{In the Philippines, it is common practice to boil herbs and leaves of trees for medicinal purpose - to be ingested or used for bathing.  Oh, sometimes I remember smelling like guava when I have a fever.}  
My complexion improved.  That was big deal for a teenager.  So fascinating!

I wasn't a tea aficionado then, not even now, for the technical use of the word at least.  I do good with the enthusiasm, not so sure about the knowledge.  Yet.  I am working on it, haha!  But I sure was fascinated with the drink.  Good taste, great for the skin, soothes the belly... intriguing history - no wonder the people in the 18th century went bonkers over it.  Really bonkers!

Later on, I was privileged to travel to Hong Kong and China.
The inadvertent tea adventure continues.

To be continued...
 

A small footbridge in La Union, Philippines






Tea Time Tuesdays and other fun blog-hop links:
Monday's Musings  |  Making Your Home Sing Monday  |  The Good The Random The Fun  |  Through My Lens  |  Our World Tuesday  |  Sunday Sketches  |  Rose Chintz Cottage: Tea Time Tuesday | Roses of Inspiration  |  Oh My Heartsie Girls  |  Antiques and Tea Cups: Tuesday Cuppa Tea Tea Cup Tuesday on Martha's Favorites |   Totally Terrific Tuesday on Live Randomly SimplyA Return to Loveliness by A Delightsome Life |   Tuesday Afternoons:  A Spirit of Simplicity | Maria Elena's Tuesdays at our Home

45 comments:

  1. wonderful post :) I'm not a big tea drinker in a land where it seems everyone drinks it lol :)

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    1. Thank you Jennifer :-) Lol... I was wondering how people actually got really "hooked" on tea despite it being grown in china only. This curiosity inspired me to read more on the history of tea, ,which in turn led me to Britain's colonization history... it became depressing after a while so I thought of happy times - my history on tea. Lol...

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  2. I did not know tea is from a tree, ignorant me! Love your colourful drawing today!

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    1. Thank you Christine. :-) I'm glad I could be informative even just a little, lol :-)

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  3. That was a fascinating story. I love tea, especially in the evenings during fall and winter. It is very hot in SW Texas, so I don't drink it as much during the Summer, unless it's over ice. Blessings!

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    1. Thanks Arnoldo :-). I agree with ice tea, it's really great during the summer days... Great refreshment to bring along on a beach day. I think US have an international ice tea day. :-)

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  4. Intersting! I really thought tea leaves came only from shrubs!

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    1. Thank you! Glad I could be a little informative, lol.

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  5. You write well Maya. A lovely short story. Of course in England we just drink tea (not really) and think we know how to make it best. I visited a tea plantation in Sri Lanka and it was fascinating to see where our national drink comes from.

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    1. Hi Phil! I am jealous. I would love to visit a plantation too someday. I like tea and I drank it a lot, but seeing how the English drink tea fascinated me and made me enthusiastic about it more. It was the tea cups that did it, lol...

      Thanks for your comment about the writing, thank you so much for your patience in reading my post. I deeply appreciate it :-).

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  6. Hello Maya, lovely story and post. The images are pretty. Have a happy week ahead!

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    1. Thank you Eileen. Very kind of you to read my post and to leave a message. I appreciate it very much.

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  7. Oh you are from LU. I'm originally from Tarlac! And unlike you, I didn't get a liking to tea while in PI. I'm a coffee lover through and through, although tea time is well anticipated by me.

    Worth a Thousand Words

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    1. Thanks for reading my short story. I have a coffee drinking family din. Pero too much caffeine for me, it makes me anxious :D tea gave me just the needed kick without the panic attacks, lol...

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  8. Thank you for sharing your interesting tea journey with us. I'm a late bloomer (HA!) and only started drinking tea when I was in my early 20s.

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to read my post and leaving me a message, I appreciate your time and kindness very much :-)

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  9. Great write-up and photos that have great lighting!
    Have a Happy Week!
    Peace :)

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    1. Thank you!
      Well , what filters can do for novice photos, lol :-)

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  10. What an interesting and fun post. I love your story about tea!

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  11. What a wonderful family story of you and learning about tes! I hope you will take a peek at my post this week! Have a lovely week!

    Pam

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    1. Hi Pam, I visited your blog. I'm a sucker for tea post so I'll visit often for sure :-)

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  12. Lovely memories of your early years and becoming interested in tea. Here in England we drink a lot of tea but I have never yet travelled to a country where it is grown.

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  13. I had a lot of salabat when I was in the Philippines years ago...had not thought about it being grown there, but makes sense. Wonderful family memories. There is a local tea company here called Two Leaves And A Bud...now I know where they got their name! Thanks for linking to Tuesday Cuppa Tea!
    Ruth

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    1. How did you get to the Philippines Ruth? Did you enjoy your stay there?
      I think that Teo Leaves And A Bud is a great name. I almost had that as my post title :-) I would love to try their tea. :-) thanks for your time :-)

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  14. Lovely post! So informative! I have made a ginger-turmeric tea with honey that is delicious and so healthy!

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  15. Dearest Maya, you are simply charming, my friend! This was such a lovely post...in words and images. I enjoy a cup of tea at night right before I go to bed, but mostly I am a coffee drinker {{smiles}}

    Thanks for joining Roses of Inspiration. Hugs to you!

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  16. Thanks for linking up at http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2015/08/double-play-on-way.html

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  17. Interesting post about tea. I do not drink it now at all but I did enjoy going to a tea plantation last time I was in Malawi

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    1. A plantation? I'm jealous. :-)
      Thank you for taking the time to read my post Margaret. I value your time.

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  18. Hi Maya,
    Tea is a fascinating subject. I enjoyed hearing about your adventures in tea learning. I didn't drink tea at all until I discovered the variety of tea out there. My mother, bless her heart, made the worst tea ever so I never liked it. Now I enjoy all the herbals, greens, and black tea available around here. Thank you for sharing and joining me for Tea Time. Yes, I did enjoy my trip to Moncton because I have family there. It was my first home.

    Blessings,
    Sandi

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  19. What a lovely story about tea, Im still making friends with teas, interesting about washing your face with eh water of the tea! The photos are unique in color, they almost look aged.

    Thank you for visiting to share your story on the OMHGWW this week!!
    I hope you have a beautiful week!
    Karren

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  20. A beautiful tale. You have me curious about the tea tree. Is it a marrungay tree?
    The View from the Top of the Ladder

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    1. You know marungay? Have you been to the Philippines?
      Oh that is a nice little tree as well with delicious leaves and fruits. But no, tea tree is real tea, it grows up to 40 feet tall.

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  21. What a lovely story. Blessings, Martha

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  22. My darling Maya,
    I feel very curous to read how does your story go on, reading this post of yours was just a relaxing moment in my far too busy afternoon, thank you for this lovely gift !

    Have a blessed day,
    wth all my heart
    dany

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    1. Oh Dear Dany, You are very kind and sweet, thank you so much for this message. I really appreciate your time and kindness. Thank you and I hope that you have a great day as well. ~Maya

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  23. This was so interesting! :)

    My experience with tea was basically drinking it 'black' at my grandmother's house and later on, iced tea in the summers. Other than that it's just a few cups of coffee in the morning for me but I am aware that some people and bloggers really love their tea...this was a great post :)

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  24. You not only have the gift of art...love your painting....but you have the gift of storytelling. I have 8 hat boxes full of tea cups, pots, etc.....love tea, and giving tea parties.

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  25. Your post was delightful... especially as I'm a HUGE tea drinker.
    I must confess that I've never drunk ginger tea... maybe I should rectify that soon.
    Great artwork and photo's.
    Have a great week ;D

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  26. What a special and very beautiful post. I'm a tea lover myself and could never give it up and all the wonderful emotional and physical benefits it brings me. Lovely art. What medium did you use? I love the bright colors. Have a wonderful week!! :)

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"Like apples of gold in silver carvings, is a word spoken at the right time." ~ Proverbs 25:11.