Tuesday, August 27, 2019

East Frisian Tea Service at TeaBuzz

TeaBuzz is temporarily closed. (12/2021)

TeaBuzz began as a part-time venture in November 2018, growing into a full-time tea bar following a move into The Blissful Heart Wellness Center on NW Greeley Avenue in Bend, Oregon.

Guests will find the tea bar by entering Blissful Heart and proceeding straight to the back.  Seating is at the central bar and along the windows with a view of the beautiful gardens where tea events are also occasionally held when weather permits.

Tea Buzz Global Tea Bar offers a wide variety of loose leaf white, green, oolong, and black tea including single cultivars and blends, as well as mate, herbals & tisanes, tea lattes, and tea-infused drinking chocolate.   Tea is available for purchase by the ounce and can also be prepared to enjoy in-house during drop-in hours.  Teaware is also available for purchase.

TeaBuzz founder Joanna Richards is a true student of tea, traveling the world to learn more about the beverage and it's rich cultural history.  She shares her knowledge of tea and culture through set and custom Tea Tasting Flights and Tea & Tales Tea Service which includes East Frisian, British Blends, Russian Style, and Tea in the Middle East.

Tea Tasting Flights and Tea & Tales Tea Service is designed for 2-6 people and available by reservation with 24 hours advance notice.  Visit the Menu to learn more about these events.

I met Joanna at Northwest Tea Festival in Seattle a couple years ago and could not pass up the opportunity to visit TeaBuzz during a recent stay in Central Oregon.  After a brief email exchange and outreach to the local tea community on Joanna's part, an East Frisian Tea Service was scheduled.

Appropriate to the Tea & Tales name, Joanna ensured that this event was engaging and informative.  We learned about the history, cultural significance, implements, and etiquette integral to this centuries old style of tea service.   Joanna also shared anecdotes from her travels in North Germany and her visit to the Ostfriesichen Teemuseum in Norden.

East Frisia (Ostfriesland, Eastern Friesland) is located in the northwest coastal region of Germany.  Tea came to East Frisia in the 17th century by way of the Dutch.  Water in the region was brackish and unpleasant and had to be boiled to be drinkable.  Tea was a most welcome addition to the local beverage options and became such an important part of East Frisian culture over the years that the daily tea ration for Germans during World War II of 10 grams was increased to 30 grams with proof of East Frisian birthright.  Today, East Frisians drink more tea per capita than any other people group in the world, averaging approximately 300 liters per person per year.

East Frisian teas are a breakfast blend of 9 to 20 teas, almost always including Assam.   There are quite a few East Frisian tea makers, though only Bünting and Thiele produce what is considered true East Frisian teas within East Frisia.  Bünting is the largest East Frisian tea producer and their Grünpack Tee consists of a blend of 18 teas.

Tea and teaware from China were introduced to East Frisia around the same time and the belief that tea must be served with full hospitality and a complete tea set became firmly fixed in local tradition.

The tea set consists of:
  • Teapot, 2-cup capacity, usually white with a rose or blue "peony" pattern
  • Stövchen or candle warmer for the teapot
  • Teapot filter
  • Sugar bowl and tongs
  • Cream bowl and spoon with a curved handle
  • Tea cup, slightly larger than a demitasse, turned downward on saucer
  • Teaspoon (not for stirring!)
  • Dessert plate
The teapot filter is particularly unique in form and function.  Likely a nod to the coastal region's chief industry, the small metal filter loosely resembles a fishing fly with an umbrella-like hook at one end and wire bristles flaring out at the other end.  The filter is fitted into the spout of the teapot with the hook holding it in place and the bristles catching leaves as the tea is poured.

Tea in East Frisia follows the principle of Dreimal ist Ostfriesenrecht which translates roughly to "three times is the right of East Frisians".  Tea is prepared at least three times per day, usually around 11 a.m., at 3 p.m., and after 8 p.m.   Three teaspoons of tea are added to the traditional two-cup teapot.  Each serving of tea has three layers: sugar, tea, and cream.  Each person will drink a minimum of three cups of tea and each cup will be finished in three sips.

With rare exceptions the host will prepare, serve, and refill each cup of tea throughout tea time.  The teapot is warmed and tea added, one teaspoon per cup plus one more for the pot.  Hot water is poured over the leaves until they are covered and left to steep for 3-5 minutes.   Then the pot is filled the rest of the way with hot water.   Alternatively, fill the pot with hot water and steep for a minimum of 5 minutes.  The host will prepare and taste their own cup of tea first to ensure quality before serving tea to their guests.

Each cup is filled following these three steps:
  • Each teacup receives one Kluntje, a rock sugar derived from beets.
  • Tea is poured, filling the cup halfway and making a delightful cracking sound as it hits the Kluntje.
  • Wulkje, double or heavy cream, is poured by spoon in a crescent shape along the inside edge of the tea cup where it will spread outward over the tea in a cloud.   Without access to East Frisian cream, a heavy cream that floats on the tea is a good substitute.
Never stir East Frisian tea.  The teaspoon is purely ornamental, meant to complete the tea set and to signal the end to the tea service.

Each cup of tea is enjoyed in three sips.  

The first sip is the smooth cream layer on top, representing everyday life.

The second sip is the bitter tea layer in the middle, representing the hard times in life.

The third sip is the sweet Kluntje layer on the bottom, representing the good things in life.

The host will continue serving tea until the guest places their unused teaspoon in their cup to indicate they are done.

East Frisian tea service includes baked sweets, in this case raspberry vanilla cake & almond lemon cookies.  The tea was delicious and not at all bitter, mellowed by the cream and sugar.  Almost everyone in attendance happily drank more than the minimum three cups of tea.

My thanks go to Joanna for hosting a welcoming, educational, and overall delightful East Frisian tea experience!

Visit the Tea Buzz website and Calendar for upcoming events and TeaBar drop-in hours.

45 NW Greeley Ave, Bend, OR 97701

See Calendar

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