Many years ago I used to look forward to going somewhere special for a cup of tea. A nice hot cup of tea prepared by someone else just seemed to taste better than at home. But ever since the McDonald’s hot coffee court case, drinking tea away from home is usually disappointing with below boiling water and tasteless teabags.
For about 15 years, my husband and I have been taking our own tea with us when we travel. It’s almost like I have to pack an extra bag for our tea paraphenalia. I always think, no I won’t do that this time. But after I get to our destination, I’m always glad.
It’s much easier if we’re driving, but we do it anyway when flying—cruises, hotels, conventions, camping, U.S. and abroad. When driving I have a tea suitcase that holds everything securely in a very sophisticated way. On flights we check a small electric water kettle (usually the Bodum) and the stainless Tea Travette in our luggage. (The Travette is a 21-oz. insulated teapot with an infuser that keeps the tea hot for 2 hours, available at teaembassy.com) In Europe, most hotels will bring you an electric water kettle if you ask them.
In a small zipper bag I include a stainless teaspoon measuring scoop, quick read thermometer, and paper filters for individual cups, along with my matcha supplies. Yes, believe it or not we travel with Matcha and prepare it in our hotel room. I usually carry our bags of loose leaf tea and this zipper pouch on the plane with me. If we check the tea in our luggage, we’ve had inspectors tear open tea to be sure it’s not marijuana. This way we can keep a closer eye on it. Before I board an airplane, I prepare bags of tea for “afternoon airtime” tea parties with a little chocolate or shortbread in my purse.
We carry our favorite black teas for mornings, oolongs and whites for afternoons, Rooibos and herbals for evenings, and green tea for airports and restaurants with 180˚ water. I always carry a peach Rooibos and a few teabags of lemon myrtle in case I get sick. Extra tea packets are a great hostess gift.
When I arrive at our hotel, I check to be sure we have hot cups or mugs before morning time. There’s nothing better than that first cup of hot tea while you’re getting dressed.
Before we head to breakfast, I prepare a few of our favorite morning teas in the empty paper bags and slip them in my purse. When ordering tea at breakfast we politely order tea with boiling water. If the brand they serve is not our preference we tell them we have our own teabags. We don’t make a big deal about having our own tea, but leave it to their discretion on the bill since they are providing us with hot water and all the condiments. I discreetly use The Tea Timer app on my iphone to steep to perfection. Sometimes we’re delighted with their selection and enjoy trying new brands.
Traveling with tea can sometimes be a handy thing. Once during a 5-hour layover in Phoenix we had a tea party at the Southwest gate because we had all our tea stuff in our carry-on. Oolongs and white teas are especially handy for airports since you can steep the leaves multiple times.
With my cup of delicious specialty tea, knitting, ipad, and Words with Friends, I’m a happy girl while traveling.