When last I visited London, we had a daily ritual of restoring ourselves with a pot of tea in true English fashion (okay, so it usually came from Costa and was an excuse to sit down someplace for a half hour or so out of the elements and rest for reasonably cheap, but the point stands). Upon our return to the states, we lamented the poor state of American tea at length to each other every time we wanted something hot to drink.
For those unfamiliar with the differences between American and English tea, American tea is bitter, even with sugar, a problem which gets worse the longer you let it steep. It's English counterpart however, tends to be sweeter, even without sugar. I've even noticed this difference within the same brand, depending on which side of the pond it was purchased (Twinnings is a good example of this; we had a lovely cup of their breakfast tea in London, but when I bought a box of it here in the states it was horrible).
This latest obsession with tea is probably rooted in my choice of listening material on my recently trebled commute to work. For long drives, I've discovered that talking is preferable to music because then I avoid the temptation to fiddle with the radio or my ipod every four and a half minutes. My latest selection is the London-based knitting podcast, Electric Sheep (can be found in itunes). Before you non-knitters dismiss it based on fiber content, the hostess is quite funny and I highly encourage everyone to listen to episode 16, Tea and Sympathy, before passing judgment (episode 13, Heroes and Legends, is also quite good and nearly caused a traffic accident because I was laughing so hard).
The podcast, combined with my natural wanderlust, has produced a burning desire in the past two weeks to visit London again. I even looked up some flights and found several for very reasonable, and one I was loath to pass up ($791 flying via KLM--in my opinion, one of the best airlines out there as far as customer service. If you can, always fly with a European line. They'll treat you a hundred times better than an American one). Alas, I must pinch my pennies too tightly right now to permit a trans-atlantic vacation. I haven't even been to a yarn shop in I don't know how long, forget Europe.
Thus, I must content myself with tea. My current favorite is Oxbridge's Afternoon Tea, which is the closest I've been able to find to what we had in London, and is just lovely with a bit of milk or cream and some sugar. There's also a variety of Yorkshire tea I've seen at work that I want to try, but every time I go looking for it I can't find it. We'll likely be overloaded on it come Christmas, if this year is anything like last, and I might grab a box or two then.
Anyone else want to join me for a tea break and some knitting? Bring your typewriter, too, and we can make an afternoon of it.