I had one particular mission to accomplish when I was in Lisboa, and that was to go to a tea store and buy Portuguese tea. In particular, I wanted to get my hands on Gorreana tea, which is the oldest, and currently only plantation that grows tea in Europe--tea from the Azores. Actually, it grows on a Portuguese island by the name of, São Miguel, which sits in the Atlantic.
I discovered all this as I researched the tea habits of the Portuguese before my trip, and was thrilled when I realized I was going to the perfect place to further indulge in my love for tea and the tradition of afternoon tea. Portugal was the first European country to introduce tea to the continent, and it was Queen Catarina de Braganza of Portugal, who introduced tea to the British when she married Charles II of England.
So, when I learned that Portugal actually grows and produces its own tea, I just had to go try it and bring some home. My online research led me to Comphania Portugueza do Chá. Thus, one sunny Saturday afternoon we made our way there only to find that it was unexpectedly closed! Oh, my heart sank. How am I going to get this tea??? The next day was Sunday and most likely the store would be closed. Then I realized the sign on the door said they moved to another address, and just as I turned around, a woman with a German accent asked me if I was looking for the tea store. She said they moved locations, but the other location also appears to be closed.
I don't remember what exactly we said next to each other, but the next thing I know she was walking us to the new location of the store. She herself is an avid tea drinker and was really surprised by the number of different teas his store carried, plus, she got the tea I was looking for. She said she came back to try to get more for her family. Disappointed at my luck, she said "Come with me," and invited us to tea in her apartment.
What a happy coincidence. Of course, as we walked up the stairs to her flat, I thought about how my parents used to warn me against accepting candy from strangers. Well, thankfully, Gabriella was a lovely, kind, and intelligent woman from Hamburg. And it turns out that Hamburg is thge biggest European importer of tea.
As we entered her flat I looked at Chris to see if he was looking at me like I was crazy, but he went along with the flow, too. It turned out to be such a delightful and unexpected afternoon, I think we ended upstaying there for at least three hours. It was just such a wonderful conversation, and exactly why I love tea. Plus, I learned a few new things about tea, too.
Do you know how we got to calling tea, "tea"? You'll recall that in Portugal and other places it's called cha or chai. Well, when Portugal was importing tea, the tea was imported in large crates labeled with "T" for transportation. The Brits confused it and thought it was the name of the product in the crates.
Gabriella also told us that when tea comes through the Hamburg port, they do quality control to make sure there are no pesticides or other contaminants. Hamburg is the second largest port in Europe, and it has kept a clean reputation in general, even retaining from using slaves in the past.
We talked about all kinds of topics. She and her boyfriend, originally from Sardinia, were also visiting Lisboa for the first time, so we shared our experiences and observations. We even discussed politics and global affairs, and our mutual respect and admiration for Angela Merkel.
It was truly, such a wonderful afternoon. I thought to myself, this is travel. Meeting new people and getting to know them, sharing conversation and food and drink. It's human connection, always human connection.
I did ultimately find the tea in a grocery store...thank goodness! But this was a fabulous way to experience it.
BIG LOVE & HUGS