In East Frisia, it is considered an honor to be invited to tea. If, as an East Frisian or even a "non-Frisian," you are not offered tea by a tradition-conscious family after fifteen minutes, you are almost certainly not welcome.
Tea is not drunk in East Frisia, Tea drinking is celebrated. It should be cozy at "Teetied," in the afternoon, or even at "Elführtje" in the morning. Pouring one's own tea is considered to be the highest form of philistinism. The first thing to go in the cup is rock candy. The bigger the piece, the more welcome the guest, they say. A soft tinkling, a crackling sound is heard when the hot liquid hits the "Kluntjes". That's about what it might sound like when a gemstone breaks. "Euphony" is simply what the East Frisians call it. Even the cream is not simply dumped into the fine-walled cup, but is applied with a warmed spoon, the "Rohmlepel". The "cream cloud" spreads out like a painting. With candy and "'n Wulkje Rohm", one drinks the tea here in such a way, because "dat so mutt". What you don't have to do at all is stir around in the work of art with a spoon.
Drinking is done in three departments. First the mild cream on the surface, then the middle, where the rather tart, intense flavor of the tea unfolds. For "dessert" something sweet - the partially dissolved rock candy in a puddle of tea. "Dree is Oostfreesenrecht," it says - so twice you may ask for it. In 1610, ships of the "Dutch East India Company" brought tea to Europe for the first time. From the beginning of the 18th century, the East Frisians imported the precious leaves themselves. There has long been enough tea for everyone. And so the tea testers' main task is to conjure up an exactly identical-tasting blend - composed mainly of Assam, Ceylon and Darjeeling teas - every year anew, which seems to be like squaring the circle. They manage it anyway. Some 50,000 varieties of tea are on the market every year. And none of them tastes exactly the same as the year before. So they have to keep testing and mixing. Because if the East Frisians taste their mixture differently than they are used to, they receive harsh complaints.
East Frisian Tea Museum, Norden, Am Markt 36, Tel. 04931 12 10 0, www.teemuseum.de; tgl. 10.00-17.00, tea ceremony Tues., Wed. and Sat. 14.00 as well as Fri. 11.00 hrs.
TeaMuseum, Oswald-von Diepholz Collection, Norden, Am Markt 33, Tel. 04931 13 80 0, www.teemuseum-norden.de; Easter-Oct. Tues.-Sun. 12.00-17.00, guided tours Tues., Wed., Fri. and Sun. 1.00 and 3.00 p.m.
Cover photo: To make it crackle: First, large white lumps of rock candy are placed in the cup. Then the tea is poured in and, finally, a cloud of cream is placed in the tea with the "Rohmleppel" © picture alliance / DUMONT Bildarchiv, Martin Kirchner
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