Saturday, May 4, 2013

From Tea to Cider and Every Sip In Between

It doesn't take more than a quick scan of my blog to learn that Tiny Tummy loves tea, so since London is known for its tea, it must not come as a surprise that I went a little tea-crazy in my travels. As a whole, the beverage situation in London is a little different from the US, based on my observations. For example, it wasn't uncommon to see people casually day-drinking at oh, you know, 10:00am. Then again, it was far less common to see drunk teens mindlessly meandering about the streets in the late hours of the night. So, while alcoholic culture may not be absent, it is certainly different. Even the drinks that were most commonly ordered in the bars (yes, Tiny Tummy got a little nosy with other people's drink orders) were often not the vodka on the rocks or rum and coke that we see at bars in the US. Maybe I got a biased sample, but I'd say a casual beer was the most common drink at the bars I went to. And the “girl drink” in London was definitely cider. Perhaps it is because cider here is nothing like cider there, but cider was quite the popular beverage. As someone who doesn't drink (alcohol), I have to say, cider is actually not that bad (granted cider is full of sugar, so you wouldn't catch Tiny Tummy sluggin' it back). London is also known for its Guinness, and again, you're getting a biased sample here because I hate beer, but Guinness was gross. Beyond gross. The guys that I traveled with seemed to like it, but as someone who never drinks beer, it was completely unpalatable, and the other girls who tried it, that do drink beer casually, agreed. If you want a cup of tar, go for Guinness, by all means, but if a lighter beer is more your speed, steer clear.

Anyway, back to the positives: the tea. Oh, the tea. When I walked into the tea stores in London, I felt like a kid in a candy store. For me, a tea shop is a candy store-- especially the ones in London with the most extensive selections of loose leaf tea you could imagine. From the green teas to the hibiscus teas (my personal fav) to the white and black tea blends, the different blends were unreal. My favorite tea store that we went into was Whittard, thanks to the largest selection of decaf hibiscus blends I have ever laid eyes on. I love me a good fruity tea, and Whittard provided blend upon blend of options... and, I mean, I'll probably only be in London once... so I bought one of everything (well, just about everything) in their hibiscus section (I did share with Mommy Tiny Tummy, though). The flavors ranged from “Very Very Berry” to “Acai and Goji Berry” to “Apple and Pomegranate”. Let's just say no fruit went unaccounted for. The store had places to sample all of their teas, coffees, and hot chocolates (the caramel hot chocolate was TO DIE FOR, but not Tiny Tummy-esque). It turns out the "tea" I bought was actually fruity/herbal infusions... either way, totally yummy. If you're exceptionally curious, you can order their teas online, but they are much cheaper in London, even with the nasty conversion rates, so I'm glad I stocked up.

Bottom line: if you're planning a trip to London, I say skip the Guinness and sip the tea.

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