15 July 2011

Tea is a cup of life

What’s your tipple? Mine is tea, and my current favourite of the many local brews is Te Canelo & Clavo, cinnamon and clove.
Another goodie – with that extra zing to wake you up in the morning – is coca tea. It has medicinal uses – it’s said to combat the symptoms of altitude sickness (siroche), though I don’t know whether that has any scientific basis or is simply a sales ploy by the locals. (They also sell coca sweeties for the same purpose.)

Coca tea is, of course, made from the leaves of the coca bush, a Peruvian native plant which flourishes on the cool slopes of the Andes. It has been cultivated in this country for centuries. Coca leaves can also be processed to make cocaine, and some locals chew the leaves to alleviate tiredness. This is common, for example, amongst the porters who carry tourists’ luggage along the Inca Trail, the four-day trek to Machu Picchu.

It didn’t occur to me until a volunteer mentioned it recently that drinking the tea and eating the sweets can leave a drug residue in your system which can be detected by Western drink/drug driving tests. Try explaining that to the zealous traffic cop back home!

The tea shelves at my local supermarket are extensive, so I’m obviously not the only one who enjoys them. Other flavours include:

*      Felices Sueños (Happy Sleep – love the name!) (includes Valeriana, Toronjil, Pimpinela y Chamomile – that’s valerian, lemon balm, burnet and chamomile)

*      Antigripal (anti-influenza) (includes Eucalyptus, Escorzonera, Borraja, Mint, Asmachilca, Muña y Honey of Bees – that’s eucalyptus, scorzonera, borage, mint, asmachilca, muna and bee honey)

*      D`ellas (tea for women – according to the packet it “relieves the menstrual colics”) (includes Hojas selectas de Oregano, Paico, Malva, Mint y Muña – that’s selected leaves of oregano, paico, mallow, mint and muna)

*      Dietetic (includes Alcachofa, Sen Dienta de León, Chamomile, Borraja y Culén – that’s artichoke, dandelion, chamomile, borage and culen)

*      Digestivo (includes Culén, Muña, Anise, Cedrón, Chamomile, Mint y Toronjil – that is culen, muna, anise, kidron, chamomile, mint and lemon balm)

Note one of the brand names in the picture – Horniman’s. I couldn’t help but wonder what the ingredients in their teas are! Apologies for the juvenile humour – Horniman’s Tea has actually been around since 1826 and was a household name in the Victorian era.

Well, my kettle’s whistling me a merry tune, so I guess it must be time for another brew! One final thought:

If man has no tea in him, he is incapable of understanding truth and beauty’ ~ Japanese Proverb