It had been six years since our last visit to Germany. During that last trip, there were TeeGschwendner outlets to be sure, but tea had yet to imprint itself on the collective consciousness of the German people. During our trip last month, though, I was delighted to witness the in-roads tea had made during the intervening years.
My initial revelation came during our first breakfast in Germany – at the NH Frankfurt City Hotel. The variety of the spread was impressive, with breakfast choices to cater to every taste, whether you are used to starting your day with steamed rice and kimchi, hummus and flatbread, or scrambled eggs and bacon. Even more impressive, though, was the tea selection. Pots with filters and loose-leaf teas – really?! Even tea sacs filled with an assortment of teas for those desiring a bit more convenience. I had to pinch myself as I gleefully scooped some Japanese sencha into the filter. Although water of different temperatures was not available, I was in heaven.
Two days later, during a walk through Stade, a sizable town near Hamburg where we were visiting my brother-in-law and his family, we stumbled upon a tea shop. Not a chain, just a small business lovingly curated to include plenty of loose-leaf tea choices, lots of tea pots and cups, and other tea-themed products. Besides picking up some pretty tea-themed napkins, the visit gave me the opportunity to enlighten the owner. The poor fellow was not familiar with T Ching, as unbelievable as that may sound.
Next up on our itinerary was Münster, where we were attending my cousin’s daughter’s wedding. Additional pleasant tea surprises awaited us at the Tryp Hotel. The first morning, we ordered tea to be brought to our room. Rather than a mug, a tea bag, and some lukewarm water, we received tea pots with generous sacs of high-quality tea – a Darjeeling, per our request. The next morning, at the breakfast buffet, we found a set-up very similar to that we were greeted with at the hotel in Frankfurt – a wide selection of teas, along with personal-serving tea pots. Will wonders never cease?
In Heidelberg, one of my favorite German cities, we were once again not disappointed. After a long day of driving and battling rain, we sat down to a leisurely dinner at the hotel’s restaurant. Perusing the menu, I came across a tea section with nearly a dozen teas. I decided, once again, on the Darjeeling. If that wasn’t enough, a TeeGschwendner shop was just a short walk away on the main shopping street.
Our trip nearing an end, we headed to our final destinations of Munich and Augsburg. During our second day in Munich, our hosts took us to several tea shops in the city center. At our favorite – Eilles – I was introduced to a new concept: a tea bouquet, consisting of several teas colorfully wrapped and decorated to resemble a bouquet of flowers. What a creative idea!
Far from the tea wasteland that still characterizes much of the U.S., Germany is setting the bar high when it comes to tea quality. Seriously, U.S. restaurateurs and hotel managers, offering high-quality tea meticulously prepared is not rocket science, so hop to it!
Images provided by the author.