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Saturday, December 1, 2007

Liquid Travels: coffee, tea or chai?

While I love lingering over some exotic local liquor at a rickety table on a sunny square somewhere, and taking 'home' those liquid travel memories to recollect later (note: they can especially come in handy on a wintery day in a dreary office when you're feeling a little down - so store them up!), I equally enjoy trying tea and coffee in other countries. Tea, generally being called chai or chay everywhere in the world except where I come from, is a favourite. While coffee can be terribly disappointing - especially when the 'premium' coffee on offer is Nescafe, as it is many simple coffee shops in South American and Middle Eastern countries - tea, at its worst, is at least interesting. This tea we tried at a small market in a tiny village near Phrao in Thailand's north was subtle in its sweetness and strength, and while it wasn't unique or unusual, it was, to me, just right - it was pretty close to being the perfect glass of tea. That's a flavour that I won't easily forget. And with that memory comes (like a series of email attachments) images of the table we sat at, the people we were with, the woman who served the tea who was lovely (albeit tired - she'd been up all night serving tea to late workers and early risers), the market stalls and their produce, the surrounding countryside (rice paddies), and the weather on that day (fortunately the rain held off until we were nearly 'home'. But the wonderful thing about liquid (and culinary) memories is the additional rememberance of 'taste'. Don't you think?


Alexander Santillanes said...

I definitely understand what you mean about the coffee. It can, at its worst, but terrible, disgusting, or bland- but when you happen upon an amazing cup in an odd location, it makes it all the more satisfying. -X

Prêt à Voyager said...

Lucky for me, I don't drink coffe ;-) . . . but I am a fan of tea - especially chai! A lot of times I'll pick up a few boxes of tea wherever I am to bring home as a souvenir/presents for people. Europe especially has lots of different flavors, and I always love anything written in a foreign language (makes it that much more exotic).

I've only had it a couple times, but I am a big fan of "Thai Iced Tea." did you have any? Is bubble tea there too? (I tried that in Singapore).


p.s. thanks for checking out the B-more guide!