If you came into my kitchen from today’s rain, I’d serve you up a steaming hot cup of Barry’s Gold tea. My morning tea ritual takes a hiatus during the hot summer months, and a real joy for me with the first fall chill is the return of my rise-and-shine cuppa. I know the west coast home of my heart is suffering record heat right now, but I’m here to attest that fall is coming. This is what it looks like out my window today in the heartland:
I discovered Barry’s tea five years ago on a family trip to Ireland. Barry’s is the best tea I’ve ever had, and I have had a lifetime of it. I grew up on fragrant jasmine and still love the taste and even more the heavenly smell. I discovered black tea with milk and sugar in early adulthood and was instantly smitten. I love English teas (and found it delightful to have tea and biscuits in the occasional London work meeting). I’ve had amazing tea from Mariage Freres in France. I adore the creamy sweet spiciness of chai. I’ve also had wonderful Iranian tea with cardamom. I love green teas from Japan – especially the kind with toasted rice – and toasted corn and barley teas from Korea. But there’s something perfectly simple about Barrys’ Gold. It’s a pure black tea – no fragrance or flavors, no bitterness or bite – just mellow and delicious. I always have it with sugar and whole milk (another legacy of my Ireland trip – after tasting the incredible dairy from Ireland’s happy cows grazing on lush grass, I gave up skim milk for good). It makes me feel happy to the tips of my toes.
The chinese grandma in me feels like it’s a waste to use a whole tea bag on one cup of tea, and a re-used teabag for a second cup never tastes as fresh. I make a full pot with my teabag and enjoy my 32 ounces all day. In my new kitchen I splurged and got a thermal stainless steel french press. I don’t have to use the french press for Barry’s, since it’s not loose leaf, but the thermal carafe is handy to keep the tea nice and hot. And though it’s more expensive than a regular french press, it doesn’t have a glass beaker to break (which I’ve done with my old french press).
I’ve given away boxes of Barry’s to my tea-loving friends, and they’ve all become hooked. It’s become a bit harder to find Barry’s Gold since World Market stores stopped carrying it late last year. Barry’s is huge in Ireland and has good distribution in the US, but the Barry’s tea website doesn’t list retail stores in the US. I have seen it in supermarkets (Draeger’s in the Bay Area has Barry’s Gold; my local Meijer here in the Midwest has decaf Barry’s in the international foods aisle), and specialty markets are a good bet in general. Barry’s is also available online from importers of Irish food products such as foodireland.com, but they usually have a minimum order amount. If anyone wants to order online, foodireland.com has a $15 minimum if you order from their site, but you can order Barry’s Gold from foodireland.com at Amazon without a minimum (though you’ll pay as much in shipping as you will on tea). So keep a lookout for it at your local stores, and feel free to post here if you find it.