For an international student, living in a new environment can be challenging. However, there is one thing that you have in your culture that can be shared, offered and taken from other cultures without much hesitation. Yes, that’s it -‘Tea!’ Tea speaks of hospitality. Tea brings cultures closer.
I’m a tea addict, if you would like to call me that. With winter enveloping the UK, it’s ideal to invite someone for a cup of warmth and especially for those who stayed behind in Manchester to enjoy the British Christmas and New Year.
One thing that is commendable about British culture is the British tea. For tea lovers, the UK is a nice choice to study culture outside from your ‘other’ studies.
Last weekend, a Turkish friend invited me for tea. Although, coming from South Asia, I have enjoyed many variants of tea, but this one was special. The style of serving tea in small glasses is exquisite. The tea is made in a double kettle by boiling tealeaves in steam, with water boiling in the base container. How was the tea, if you ask? I drank as many cups as my host offered until there was no more in the boiler.
While there could be millions of admirable ideas of making tea, my style is the ‘desi’ or local Pakistani/Indian type. Ground black tea leaves (1 teaspoon) or a tea bag is added to half a cup of boiling water in a pan. To this, half a cup of milk is added when the tea has left a brilliant colour. A teaspoon of sugar or as desired can be added to suit oneself. After a boil or two, the creamy tea is ready to be sieved out in your favourite cup. Other ingredients that you could add while the water is boiling, include a pinch of fennel seeds, few cardamom and cinnamon to make it ‘masala chaye’ or spicy tea.
This reminds of where one can find this style of ‘British-tea-with-milk’ in Manchester. For those who wish to enjoy this new taste, the British Asians or international students who miss their homemade tea, can visit the restaurant, Ambala, on Wimslow Road, in Rusholme. They make the same kind of tea, light or strong, as you wish.
There is one more thing worth mentioning here. You might wonder how tea or coffee could hold a special place in a culture. Teatime lets you meet new people, connect with old friends or colleagues, help discuss ideas and share thoughts on a table where tea becomes the common language. The International Society also has coffee and tea evenings when people from across the world can come for an exchange of cultures. Tea, in this sense, speaks of warmth, friendship and hospitality.