Thursday, August 07, 2008

TWININGS IRISH BREAKFAST: FEATURED TEA OF THE WEEK



Being of Irish decent, I am deeply drawn to the country and people of Ireland…Dare I say, I don’t fully understand the tug and pull of my very soul to a land I’ve never known. Yet, it exists within me and I know that I will not be truly content until I see Ireland, someday very soon……

What I find very interesting is that Ireland has the highest per capita tea consumption in the world at 3.2 kg (7 lb) per head per year. Hum… my English ancestry combined with the Celts just might explain my obsession with all things tea and British Isle- related …With all that in mind, the featured tea of the week is Twinings Irish Breakfast. This is of course a blend of many black teas with Assam perhaps being the most prominent. According to James Norwood Pratt’s Tea Lover’s Treasury, there is believed to have once been a very strong preference for Assam among the Irish... Just why this was so remains a bit of a mystery. Also interesting to note is that the Irish are in fact among the most discerning tea drinkers in the world and in “regards to taste and leaf appearance, quality is an obsession.” Hum…and you thought I was joking about my ancestry playing a part in my own obsession……

In Ireland of course, the tea is not referred to as “Irish Breakfast”, just merely “tea” and is enjoyed throughout the day and evening. The taste is of a brisk full-bodied malty brew. It is often served with milk and sugar or sometimes only with lemon or with nothing added at all.

Since Ireland is on my mind these days. I want to share a song by my favorite vocalist, the Irish-Canadian Nightingale, Loreena McKennitt…The song, that you hear on the play-list, is a traditional Celtic one called Bonny Portmore…It is about the mourning over the destruction of the ancient Great Oak of Portmore…The words and music to this song are so haunting and melancholy …

BONNY PORTMORE
Traditional Music and Lyrics/ Arrangement by Loreena McKennitt

O Bonny Portmore I am sorry to see
Such a woeful destruction of your ornament tree
For it stood on your shore for many's the long day
Till the long boats from Antrim came to float it away.

O Bonny Portmore you shine where you stand
And the more I think on you the more I think long
If I had you now as I had once before
All the Lords in Old England would not purchase Portmore.

All the Birds in the forest they bitterly weep
Saying "where shall we shelter or where shall we sleep?"
For the Oak and the Ash they all cutten down
And the walls of Bonny Portmore are all down to the ground.

O Bonny Portmore you shine where you stand
And the more I think on you the more I think long
If I had you now as I had once before
All the Lords of Old England would not purchase Portmore.

________________________________________
The destruction of old growth forests has become an important conservation issue in recent years, but it is not a new phenomenon. Over the centuries many of Ireland's old oak forests were leveled for military and shipbuilding purposes. Only recently has there been an effort to reestablish these great hardwoods. The Great Oak of Portmore stood on the property of Portmore Castle on the shore of Lough Beg. – Loreena McKennitt

16 comments:

Kalianne@BygoneBeauty said...

Rebecca, I’m convinced it's the Irish in you that’s responsible for your love of tea! It’s remarkable how much ancestry affects our tastes and interests.

About Ireland and ancestry, our friends (who’ve been researching their Irish ancestry)returned from a trip Ireland where they visited places relevant to their family and forebears. It was a special experience for them –very connecting and spiritual. Maybe you will get a chance to visit Ireland soon? I’m sure you'll love it!

On tastes, interests and ancestry- our family on Dad’s side love rice and I’ve always had a strong affection for camels (please don’t laugh). Truly, for as long as I can remember whenever a camel is in sight I have to meet it - even ride it if I’m allowed. My husband found this amusing when we first met. Anyway, recentish we learned that we have an Indian Camelier in our family tree - my great, great, great grandfather! Australia and India were English colonies at the same time during the 1800s. The Indian Cameliers (called “Afghan Cameliers”) were commissioned by the English to assist with transport in the outback. That must be why I love eating rice and meeting camels!

Before I go, I must to comment about Loreena’s beautiful ballads. Music that connects with history and folklore is so interesting to listen to. And I love that sweet, haunting quality of Irish folk singers.

Now...look at all those books you have on the Celts! You really must get yourself to Ireland my dear! ~ Kalianne xo

willow said...

My Irish DNA is loving this post, too, Rebecca. Pour me a fresh cup and let's have a look at that lovely stack of books you have here on the table!

Betsy said...

I remember reading somewhere about Ireland consuming more tea than England and was surprised! I don't think I've ever had this tea! You've made me want a cup right now!

Rebecca said...

Kailanne, a Camelier? That is so fascinating...My, I'll bet he had some interesting stories to tell...You know, the one and only time I've been on a camel was in Australia!....What an amazing experience that was...

I really do believe there is something to the ties that bind...The pull and longing is just too great and consuming for there not to be something in the DNA that calls us back to the lands of our ancestors...

I must get to the British Isles eventually. I really can't leave this earth until I do...Wouldn't mind a return trip to your homeland and back to France while I'm at it:-)....

Rebecca said...

Willow,my Celtic sister, I knew you would appreciate the ancestral connections here...I'll happily pour a hot cuppa and we can peruse the books...

Rebecca said...

Betsy, that is something about tea consumption in Ireland, isn't it? The Irish Breakfast Tea is really good. As you can see from the photo, it's not filled very full in the tea cup...That is because I couldn't resist drinking the prop. Shameless!

Mmm said...

Ah, REbecca, you have totally hit me where my heart is. I not only love Irish Breakfast but throw in Loreena McKennit's "bonny Portmore" and I'm in bliss. Funny you added that as I just added that same song and artist to my long playlist (still working on it)!

BTW, I like how you set up the photo with the lovely old book in the background.

Dee Dee said...

Oh Rebecca...I've so enjoyed this post. There's a but if Irish in me as well, on my mother's side of the family. I'm going to sit here a few more moments and enjoy Bonny Portmore as I have my morning tea.

Lavinia said...

Rebecca, I've not tried Irish Breakfast, although I do really enjoy English Breakfast. I'll have to have a taste and see the difference for myself.
I have no Irish ancestry but I won't say no to Bailey's Irish cream!

Betsy said...

You couldn't resist drinking the prop? You are hilarious! :)

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

You are about your Irish heritage the way I am about my Scottish heritage. You must get to Ireland! There is nothing like drinking tea in your homeland! Lovely post!

Kalianne@BygoneBeauty said...

Dear Rebecca

It has been an absolute delight getting to know you over the past few weeks, I have so enjoyed our visits and cups of tea!

I’m going away on holiday for three weeks beginning Monday and won’t be blogging while I’m away. To prevent tea withdrawals I’m taking a variety pack of Twinning’s with me! ;).Look forward to catching up when I’m back (and learning of your news)!

Hugs,
Kalianne

Rebecca said...

Lavinia, you would probably like Irish Breakfast...It's similar to English Breakfast... I also love Bailey's...We especially like it in the winter...Yum...

Betsy, the prop just proved too tempting for me...:-)...

Rebecca said...

MMM, I should've know you would be a LM fan as well as an Irish Breakfast fan.....LM is amazing..My husband got her DVD concert, "Nights From the Alhambra" for me last Christmas and it's wonderful...I watch it often....

Dee Dee and Pamela, it seems many of us in the South East have Scottish and /or Irish ancestry. What's your other heritage? Besides the English and Irish I also have Scottish, Welsh and French...

Rebecca said...

Kalianne,....Likewise my friend...I do hope you have a lovely holiday in the Victorian Alps...How wonderful! Enjoy the Twinings! I will certainly miss you......

Blog Princess G said...

I've not tried Irish Breakfast, but I love English Breakfast tea. And I really love Loreena McKennitt. My parents lived in the same town as her for several years and she is truly a woman who cares and does good works with her success. I love this CD too... her Lady of Shallott gives me chills.