A few days ago my friend Ramani said she had a new tea for me to try. I was excited. Anyone who knows me or who has read this blog knows that my drink of choice is hot tea and that I’m very particular about my brew. I stopped using tea bags years ago, except when I travel, in favor of brewing my own leaves. Sometimes I even like to mix leaves — Black Dragon Pearl with Jasmine, for example, or a few Jasmine Pearls with a good Darjeeling. One of my favorites is a first flush Darjeeling, the champagne of teas. But I digress….
Ramani’s sister had recently returned from a trip home to Sri Lanka and had brought back a supply of tea. I love Ceylon tea and recalled her earlier trips and teas and the leaves that had “magically” disappeared from my pantry. I was ready for a refill.
So, you can imagine my surprise when I opened the goody bag and found a box of…Lipton tea bags?!
Ramani explained. The tea had been purchased in Sri Lanka. Everyone there drinks it, she said. Lipton? Yes. Tea bags? Yes. It’s easy and convenient. But…
isn’t it the same tea I can buy here at the supermarket (I said this to myself)? Not really, as it turns out. According to my friend, the tea that is picked and packaged and sold in Sri Lanka is fresher and far superior to anything that is shipped to the US.
Maybe, I thought. But the package looks the same. Again, not really. The tiny curlicues above the English text on the box is a translation — probably Tamil or Sinhala (the two official languages of Sri Lanka).
The Unilever logo is the same (a big blue “U” with more than 20 tiny icons representing the product brands they manufacture, including tea), but the contact information on the Lipton boxes at my local stores lists a telephone number in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. On Ramani’s tea box there’s a Colombo, Sri Lanka address and telephone number. One is no more nutritious than the other as both have zero calories, protein, carbohydrates, fat, and sodium. But calories are listed as “energy” on the Sri Lankan box. I like that. I prefer thinking that I’m consuming energy to calories.
The bottom line: Lipton Yellow Label Tea that is grown, harvested, packaged, and sold in Sri Lanka has a lovely aroma. And, though I still prefer loose leaves, a bag does make a pretty good cup of tea.
I followed the Unilever website link on the Sri Lanka Lipton box and found some interesting sites. If you want to see the beautiful places where Ceylon tea begins its journey enroute to your pot, check out the video. (And, if you’re ever in Sri Lanka, you may want to pick up some Lipton tea.)