German Tea culture?! Yes it exists, all you need to know about it
Settle down, it's storytime!
I grew up in the Rhein-Ruhr area where the "Miracle on the Rhine" took place; the rapid economic reconstruction of Germany after the second world war. Rhein-Ruhr is the most populated metropolitan area in Germany and 3rd in Europe after Paris and London. The region was shaped by the steel and chemical industry also coal mining, and the landscape consists of concrete buildings, steel bridges and industrial sites. There is a type of romance to that but as a child form the city I still remember the days when my parents drove us out of the region to a place where we could find rest and retreat from the stress.
For me that place was northern Germany, especially: East Frisia. A place totally in contrast to what I was used to. The close proximity to the north sea, the low population density, the maritime atmosphere, the cool weather and clean air. It is an atmosphere which is unique in the otherwise pretty plain German landscape. During these times up in the north we would usually meet friends who lived there and who had embraced the east Frisian culture, part of that always was the tea. It could be prepared at any time of the day, often in the afternoon and for breakfast in the morning. It was served every day with no exception and replaced the coffee entirely, so what is it about the east Frisian tea culture?
The east Frisians and their tea:
Some sources say that the Tea was brought to the region through trading with the dutch as early as 1675, but tea culture was put under pressure in the 18th century by the Prussian leaders who failed to establish their own east Asian trading company. The Dutch and British were the kings in the business and trade with the competitors became so unfavorable that they tried to make drinking tea illegal. Those years were called the "tea wars" and smuggling increased to a maximum during that time, the Frisians could not let go of their habit and under big grief, the Prussian leaders at some point allowed the consumption of what they romantically called the "Chinese dragon's poison".
As international trade expanded in the early 1800s, the 3 big tea-houses in east Frisia were founded. Bünting being the largest one and today is the biggest employer in the region. Today, more than 75% of the tea consumed in Germany is being consumed in the region. Some say that the east Frisians drink more tea per capita than anyone else in the entire world.
The East Frisian tea is a blend of up to 20 different types of black tea, mainly Assam but also Darjeeling and some other types can be found in the mix. Every tea house has its own formula but a similar distinct aroma which is the signature of the east Frisian tea. It can be quite strong.
The tea is prepared with 8–10 g/l and 3–5 Min of brewing time. Soft water is favorable for the aroma of the tea.
The customs around the tea:
"Rood Dresmer" cups, Kluntje and a small jug for cream.
The tea is usually served together with "Kluntje" which are small pieces of rock candy and cream. The Tea is being poured over the "Kluntje" which make a sound as the sugar breaks under the heat of the tea. After that small amounts of cream are being poured with a spoon. The tea is not being stirred and usually, the formation of clouds in the cup is being watched as the tea cools down to a drink ready temperature. When drinking one first tastes the strong tea while the heavy cream sinks to the bottom and forms a sweet layer which then rounds up the bitter taste. It is served along with cookies or cake.
"Kluntje in a cup"
There is much more to talk about here, but I wanted to keep it short and informative. Thanks for reading! :)