nova scotia, part one: tea

 
My favourite kind of travel is the kind that meanders me down side streets where there are no attractions, where the door of a tea shop invites me to sit at a sunny window and read the local paper while enjoying the perfect blend of leaves and ambience and ambient conversation.

Where there’s a table of older people and two tables of younger people and every single one of them strikes me as someone worth talking to. A woman comes in and gets a cup of tea to go, a few minutes later, a man arrives to pick up a large paper sack containing an order of various teas, his personal stock is running low he says. He chats with the owner, who explains that he’s leaving for India soon (I don’t catch the name of the place) to visit his tea farmers and attend the wedding of a farmer’s son.

Later, when I’ve finished reading and eavesdropping and sipping, I get up to pay and I ask the owner, Philip, about his upcoming Indian tea farm travels and… well… the conversation goes on for some exceedingly happy time about ethical practices and the choice to support small growers rather than large companies, the difference in quality, the science and pleasure of blending leaves, the art of using natural flavours rather than synthetics.

Philip tells me that last time he was in India he helped with the planting of tea bushes, that the farmer whose son is getting married is his mentor, that he’s learning everything he can and that he hopes one day he’ll be able to plant tea in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley.

He doesn’t have to tell me this is a lifestyle, that he doesn’t sell tea to get rich. In fact he nearly went bankrupt when the city closed his street for construction one summer.

By the time I leave I’ve had a fabulous mini tea course. (I thought I knew tea. Turns out I know next to nuthin’.)

As with everything, what I learn most is how much there is to learn.

At home a week later I brew a pot of the same blend and the smell of it, the taste, is as gorgeous as I remember and… presto!… just like that I’m right back in that sunny window on a side street in Halifax.

Which is my second favourite kind of travel.

 

 

 

11 thoughts on “nova scotia, part one: tea

  1. I wish I had been sipping and eavesdropping with you, Matilda. Your words make the imagery come splendidly alive in my mind, and always make me wish I were your shadow. But please, do tell me: what is your first favourite kind of travel?

    1. It’s such a nice place. And the teas are excellent. I’m sorry I didn’t buy more when there… (fortunately I can order online!) (Chocolate Monkey is in my future.)

  2. Ditto above: one of my favourite ways to travel is by tagging along on your trips via your photos and words.
    Another favourite way–that includes no jetlag!–are the spark of sense memories that take me back to a place. Here, the taste and aroma of tea!

    1. That ‘spark’ of taste/smell can be so strong. As in the case of this tea. Be interesting to see how long it lasts. There are smells, especially, that even after decades have power for me.

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