Sunday, March 7, 2010

Irish tea

Andy in Sligo

The mighty Atlantic

Skellig Michael from the Blasket Islands

For our 10th anniversary, my husband (Andy) gave me the best gift I could ever want - a two week, kid-free, trip to Ireland. We're not wealthy people, so this trip took a year of planning, lots of reading Rick Steve's Europe through the Back Door materials and attending some of his classes (, and a heap of solid budgeting, but it was SOOOOOOOOOO worth it. We had an amazing time for so many reasons and I brought back tons of fantastic memories (and pictures) that I'll never forget.

Ireland is a HUGE tea-drinking nation - I read somewhere that they surpassed England as the biggest tea-drinkers and it certainly seemed like it. Every Bed & Breakfast (B&B) we stayed at, every pub, restaurant, cafe, and hostel all had Irish breakfast tea or some Irish blend available. I already liked tea (though I drink mine plain - no sugar or cream) but hadn't ever tried Irish tea. On the first morning at our first B&B, when the proprietor offered us coffee or tea, I asked for the tea. She brought out my little tea kettle with an individual creamer and sugar bowl. After letting it steep for a few minutes, I poured a cup and inhaled. The smell is intoxicating. It immediately seeps into your pores and starts to wake you up. Interestingly enough, Irish breakfast tea is actually a blend of Indian black teas (Darjeeling and Assam teas) and has that lovely spice smell and flavor.

Wanting to experience it as I saw the Irish do it, I added a little cream and sugar, stirred it up and took my first drink. The rest, as they say, is history! I drank the entire tea pot and from that point on, I had a least one pot for breakfast every morning of the two weeks I was there, and about a week in, I kept making Andy pull over mid-day to pubs or cafes so I could order a pot for my mid-day fix.

Finally, when we stopped at the Skellig Mist Bakery while going through the Ring of Kerry, I located a box of Bewley's Irish Breakfast Tea that I bought to take home with me. This was a brand I saw a lot of B&Bs use; another was Barry's Gold.

Once at home, I burned through that box of tea leaves pretty quickly and had to find a place that sold my Irish tea locally. I found Blue Moon Tea in Tacoma, WA (, which stocks both Bewley's as well as Barry's. I love both, but I ultimately switched to Barry's, as it's flavor is a bit milder, while still retaining that magnificent smell, unique taste and subtle spice.

If you haven't tried Irish tea before (and are a fan of tea), I would HIGHLY suggest it. You can close your eyes and picture yourself along the coast of the Atlantic, with Gaelic winds blowing through your hair, and Irish poetry pulsing through your veins. There's nothing like it.


  1. I will have to try this Irish Tea...the best tea I have ever had was the "Chai" I had in Russia. My Grandma Cose has been trying to get me to have a glass of green tea every day because it's heart healthy, but I'm not a big fan of it.

  2. Ooh, I bet real Chai from Russia was fabulous! I am not a huge fan of green tea either...I think it's boring. I love Black Teas and they are still good for your heart b/c they improve blood vessel functions and it's supposed to have cancer-fighting properties.