The hunt for good tea
Today we went to a truck stop called La Pommeniac just south of Bain de Bretagne.
It is nice to go there for a bowl of chips and a tea. The tea isn't anything special - a Twinings English Breakfast (other sorts are available), but if you leave it in the pot for long enough, it is a drinkable cup (or two). Kudos also for offering a variety and not considering Yellow Label to be the only choice possible.
It is also nice to "people watch" as the place is on the major route between Rennes and Nantes, so everybody passing up and down will come through here. It is also on what is known as the Route des Estuaires, a chain of motorways from Belgium to Spain that circles around the coastline (clipping off Brittany) and avoids Paris and the mountainous regions. Part of a greater project (I think the plan was to go from Estonia to Portugal or something), it is a fairly major route. Free in Brittany, it is a toll-road motorway in the rest of France and in Spain (at least, the Autopista AP-8 - I didn't look beyond).
Being the main route south from the St. Malo ferry terminal, there are often a lot of Irish people passing through as can be seen by looking at the licence plates, as well as Spanish lorries.
One thing of note is that when you order something that needs to be cooked, you are given a little pager so that you know when your order is ready.
At £2.60 for a pot giving two small cups (or one very full cup) it is pricey but today we sat by the window in the sun and passed time for nearly two hours while lamenting the fact that we don't have a conservatory. Or anything that resembles proper heating. Ah well...
A while back, we discovered a sort of snack/coffee place attached to a local supermarket. An E.Leclerc. It offers some pretty decent tea. Brodie's (Scottish) Breakfast (hehe) with matching tea pots and cups. This is a nice cup of tea. And look at the size of the tea pot. Look at the size of the mug. You can fill it. Twice. When you need the sort of nice relaxing feeling that only tea can offer, this is the place to come. Reasonable price too.
We mentioned this to some English friends who were very much of the opinion that a far better cup of tea can be found at the other supermarket in town - the Hyper U. So we went there. Evidently said friends have extremely low expectations when it comes to tea.
See my expression?
For some unknown reason, the French more or less seem to think that when it comes to plain black tea, Lipton Yellow Label is the epitome of tea drinking. This fact, more than anything else in the world, explains why the French are a nation of coffee drinkers. See the teapot? Two teabags in there and it still made a horrid cup of tea that tasted like I pulled a used bag out of the bin and threw it into some tepid water for a few seconds. I really don't understand why the French are so enamoured with Yellow Label.
I don't remember how much this cost, anything
that is a positive number is too much.
There is a bar in a nearby town that flirts with the idea of being a "tea room". It's a nice idea, and there are a good few sorts of tea on offer, but unfortunately they all suffer the French Syndrome of being extremely weak. I tell people that the British like their tea like the French like their coffee. I have offered bags of Tetley (British, not the weak French stuff) to cow-orkers, and the general consensus is that it is "nice" and "extremely liberating". They don't tend to ask for a second sample, they're too busy reaching for the heartburn tablets, which is kind of funny since they'll think nothing of knocking back two lethal coffees that you could creosote woodwork with (hmmm, that might smell quite pleasant...).
To prove that Lipton can do a decent cup of tea - one that I quite enjoy for special occasions (while lamenting the loss of Sweet Sakura) is Lipton Gold Tea. A fine black tea (Sri Lanka) with petals of marigold and sunflower, it delivers an ambience reminiscent of the way you feel when the first sunny days of Spring arrive and you know that you have the whole Summer ahead of you.
It is nice to have a good solid cup of Tetley for all the day-to-day tea needs (and, as always, special thanks to Mick are due here), however for those times when you want a good tea that is something a little bit special (and seemingly available throughout much of Europe (maybe beyond)), give Gold Tea (or Thé Or, Zwarte Thee, etc) a try.
Note #1: It is "Gold Tea" not "Gold Leaf Tea".
Note #2: Check the ingredients on the back to make sure it has sunflower and marigold (tournesol and souci in French). Some versions that I have found (American?) appear to contain honeybush which means it will taste completely different!
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