So, those of you who have followed me from the very beginning will know that this blog all started with a tea everyday, and usually a little something was said about the teas. This hasn’t really been happening in a while, but I just want you to know that I have not abandoned tea, far from it in fact. This is a little round up, a tea-cap if you will, of all the teas currently doing the rounds in my cup. Some have been with me a long time, some are much newer, some are good, some less so. But here you go!
The Golden Chariot tea above is not very good quality tea at all, hence it costing so little, but I bought it because I really love the packaging!
I bought this Mate in Berlin for 1Euro. It is a roasted variety and is quite pleasant, being much smoother and less bitter on the palate than a normal Mate, but it lacks the magic punch and stimulation of the unroasted variety.
This tea, which is not strictly ‘mine’, is delicate and sweet, with the smoothness of the Sencha balanced well with flower blossoms.
Definitely just for night-time!
I’ve not tried this yet, and it is again not strictly mine, but I will let you know when / if I get my hands on it!
This is probably my most coveted tea, from Estonia I have been carrying this around since February. It is excellent, you can steep the leaves several times and it is delicate yet nourishing. If you happen to leave it a little long the Ginseng, in which the Oolong has been rolled, will start to create an odd, but not unpleasant, sweetness.
I love Mate, ever since I found it tucked away in a little farm shop in the middle of nowhere in England when i was about 16. This one is good, actually quite delicate in flavour, but it definitely does the job!
Last, but by no means least, is my Yunnan Green Oolong. I brought this with me when I started my trip and it has been perfect every time. I am running extremely low on it now so will only drink it occasionally. It is perfect for lifting the spirits and refreshing the soul. This tea is a life saver!
Another roasting hot day was met with gusto as we headed out into the city centre. We had arranged to meet up with two couchsurfers who were visiting Warsaw for a few days and were looking for good, vegan food. I recommended the brilliant Lovin’ Hut on Jana Pawla II, and they kindly invited us to join then for a spot of lunch. The food has never disappointed me there, and it still hasn’t, though I did have to have a second choice because the first was sold out (quick tip, get there early if you want to a chance to sample something from the whole menu). This time I had ‘Teriyaki Island”, and it was very very good as usual, the soy dressing is really well done, and their little rice piles perfect for the size of dish. I would recommend this place to absolutely anyone, no matter what your diet or eating preference, even the strictest carnivore can’t fail to be impressed or satisfied here!
After lunch we went our separate ways and Marta and I headed to the Jewish Graveyard, to see it in the sunlight, and hopefully to cool down. The place was really beautiful in the sunshine and the trees made the light dappled and beautiful, as well as making the temperature bearable. The biggest problem however was the abundance of hungry mosquitos, baying for our blood. But we just about survived, though the next day my legs looked like someone had filled them with pink ping pong balls! (toothpaste and lemon seem to be doing the trick at keeping the itching down a bit though)
We jumped on a tram, intending to head straight home, but stopped off in the city centre and ended up inside the old children’s hospital on Jerozolimskie, ‘Szpital Omega’. This is slowly being turned into artist’s studios and there is access to the building thanks to a tiny boutique that has opened up on the 3rd floor. The whole building is pretty accessible if you don’t mind the piles of rubble lying around and we had a good old snoop throughout the place, which has got some creepy stuff still kicking about. The picture above is of the old oxygen cabinet, and there are some more photos below, which gives you a bit of an idea of how cool it is to explore this place, before it all gets neatened up.
Tired and sleepy we headed back home to enjoy the cool flat and some nice cups of tea. I have, at long last, got myself a bag of normal green Mate, which is very very welcome at all times of the day and a good change from the roasted one that I have been drinking lately. I do wish I had brought my Bombilla from home though, the ones in Warsaw are all rather expensive. That’s exoticism in Poland for you!
A really amazing tombstone, possibly my favorite!
Tea 48: Mate Palona, Gander’s Tea House, Warsaw.
Marta and I left the flat and headed into the city centre, we jumped on the tram to centrum and got off. We were both feeling a bit drowsy, despite everyone in the flat sleeping really well we seemed to all have a heavy headedness. It has started to snow again a bit today so we think it might be the change in air pressure or something like that. Marta had promised to show me the sculpture at the Palace of Science and Culture of the guy holding a book bearing Lenin‘s name. After a bit of a hunt we managed to find it, on the Emilii Platter side of the building, standing up the guy holds a book bearing not just Lenin’s name, but also those of Marx and Engels. It seems that it has never been attempted to be removed or altered in anyway. A proper throw back to the historical period that built this huge building.
My curiosity at long last satisfied we got onto another tram that took us to the other side of the river, to Saska Kępa, the more beaten up, but slowly reviving area of the city. We got off just after the bridge, which seems to go on forever, taking us across the wide river then past the new football stadium, still waiting for the christening of the Euro 2012 competition. We walked down Francuska street, past some old shops and buildings being taken over by modern eateries and bars, then past the sculpture of the famous poet and writer Agnieszka Osiecka, sitting outside of the Rue de Paris cafe. Across the street at number 12 Francuska is Gander’s tea house. This is the best tea house I have found in Warsaw so far, in terms of atmosphere, tea selection, tea quality and quirkyness. It is a bit like going to your posh grand-relatives house. Old wooden furniture upholstered with texture floral patterns, doily table cloths, slightly tarnished silverware. And for the first time the background music was more suitable! We sat and read through the bible of teas they have on offer, loads of varieties of all colours of teas as well as a few traditional Polish mixes, Ayurvedic teas and so on. I decided to go for Mate Palona, this was a great choice, the first PROPER Mate I have had in ages. It is made with toasted mate leaves, almond pieces, cocoa husks, sunflower and cornflower petals. The tea is really smooth and, for a Mate, delicate. You can chose whether to have it in the traditional way, with a gourd (as above) or I presume as a simple infusion. It was so good to be able to have it the proper way for a change, carrying a gourd and bombilla around in a backpack is not much of an option for the travels, though I might try to get hold of a bombilla at least, I left mine at home.
The Mate shook off the heavy headedness pretty effectively, and after a couple of hours sitting there we left and walked north, into a little park called Skaryszewski, its grass covered in hundreds of mole hills, probably from the poor things almost drowning from all the melting snow. There is also an old soviet sculpture, dedicated to the Red Army who fought against the Nazi’s during the Second World War, still with its five-pointed star, but bearing the scars of having it’s hammer and sickle removed. Red paint is spattered all over it too, though whether this is through protest or support I couldn’t say.
We continued through the park and then into Praga, the more populated and central bit of this side of the river. We wandered up and down the old, decaying streets as the darkness began to fall and the snow with it. The streets here are quite a stark contrast to each other, half of the buildings are new, others are renovated and the rest are still waiting for something to happen. There are still big old wooden gates to the entrances to most of the buildings, the balconies and plasterwork look as though they could fall on your head at any minute! We then went in search of another sculpture, one of a street band. We didn’t find this straight away, but then went for a look at a couple of churches, lit up resplendently in the night air. At the rear of one red bricked church we found the sculpture. This was made as a sort of dedication to this part of the town where many folk and street bands can often be found busking and celebrating their art.
We then decided we were far too cold and we went to get the tram back into town. This went back across a different bridge than before, one that leads to the old town. We jumped off after a couple of stops and found the tram that would take us back to the centre. We were both hungry and had decided to search out a little place. We found it but it was shut, doesn’t open at all on the weekends, but close by is U Szwejka, a vibrant Hungarian place, that looks from the outside like the British Harvester of Beefeater chain type places, but it is actually very nice, a great atmosphere and some lovely food. We both had a Goulash soup, a bargain at less that 8Zlotys, and then we shared a plate of Pancakes filled with Spinach and Cheese and Chicken. I seemed to devour most of them myself though!
Fed and satisfied we headed back out into the dark, cold and snowy night air. Walking down to another tram stop, throwing snowballs at each other and at other stuff (until I hit Marta in the mouth….oops….). We got on the tram home, watched a film and now it’s time to sleep, again! Days are going fast!