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TEA ON THE GERMAN COAST

East Frisia is in the north-west of Germany, and it is the only part of the world where the love of tea rivals that found in the UK. East Frisians first encountered tea in the 17th century, when it was brought back from China by Dutch merchants. They quickly came to appreciate this drink, especially its black varieties, and it soon replaced beer as their drink of choice. Despite various attempts to suppress the love of tea in this region, including those of Frederick II already discussed in this book, East Frisians have always found a way of enjoying their favourite tipple. Shortly after the end of World War ll, for example, when supplies of all luxuries were running short, they traded butter and bacon for tea with their neighbours in Germany's Ruhr region.

If anyone is invited to tea in East Frisia, they can expect to drink at least three cups. That explains why residents of this place are among the world's most prolific consumers of tea - a status that can only be achieved by drinking tea pretty much constantly throughout the day by Japanese tea cups. It is no surprise, then, to discover that East Frisians set aside at least four times for tea during every day to ensure, in order to ensure they never miss a cup. East Frisian tea is blended from Assam, Ceylon and Darjeeling. It is a strong black tea that is sweetened with rock sugar which is put in the cup first. The tea is poured on top of this, causing the sugar crystals to crack and fizzle. A splash of cream is then poured carefully from the edge of the cup so that it forms a cloud on top of the tea.

Without stirring the concoction, East Frisian tea drinkers then sip through this layer of cream. The liquid becomes progressively sweeter as they near the rock sugar at the bottom. The result is a very moreish drink that is best enjoyed in company - and that's why East Frisians have a tendency to keep pouring and pouring, and pouring and pouring… throughout the day.