Tea and travel: The top 5 reader stories

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We asked you to share stories of your most memorable vacation involving tea, and we were wowed by the response. We received 68 stories, including three poems.

Here's our favorite:

I took my teenaged daughter to Istanbul for Christmas last year. We arrived in the city after a very long series of flights from Washington, DC. It was early evening so we headed to the nearest cafe. My daughter wanted to eat and I wanted to slurp tea. Since neither of us speaks Turkish, we were given an English-language menu. I gazed with longing at all the Turks sipping steaming tea from petite glasses and could smell the mint-like fragrance wafting to our table. I ordered tea from the waiter and then sat back in eager anticipation. He returned with my daughter's hamburger and a large mug of tea for me. The horror! No minty fresh fragrance, no little glass. And worst of all—a Lipton tea bag dangling into the cup. In his best accented English, the waiter gushed, "Special tea just for you!!!"—Posted by: Tamar Abrams

And these are the runner-ups:

I always carry my loose green tea with me when I travel and usually stick it in my carry on for a cup on the plane. Going through security was a little dicey once when they searched my bag and held up the little baggie that contained my tea. Puzzled, I asked what was wrong and much to my dismay, they thought it was marijuana! It took me a while to persuade them that it was tea and not grass.—Posted by: Susan Poirier

The Balmoral Hotel

Undeniably swell

high tea, the full spread

Darjeeling and shortbread

I would gladly stay longer

if the dollar were stronger.

—Posted by: Felice Piggott

Several years ago I taught in China for the summer. I am a complete tea addict and was looking forward to drinking lots of Chinese tea, thinking about all the varieties of tea that I had bought at Ten-Ren Tea Shop in New York's Chinatown over the years. I couldn't wait! Alas, I found only green tea on my journey in China, and missed all the tea-drinking experiences that my mind had imagined. Every day, everywhere, always - only green tea. Before I left China, I checked into a fancy Shanghai hotel in Pudong for a few days and never expected to find my dream come true: the most gorgeous French pastries available from room service along with an assortment of White tea! Oolong tea! Assam tea! Suchong tea! Black tea! I was in heaven, finally! I sat and gorged myself and drank myself into a frenzy while watching Chinese soap operas on TV. I finally had my Chinese tea experience, albeit slightly altered that what I had imagined.—Posted by: Kirk

As an undergrad, I studied abroad for a semester in Moscow. Our most elaborate group activity was a week-long trip to Sochi, 36 hours away by train on the Black Sea. One of our daily excursions was to a tea plantation and a hike in the nearby Somsheetovaya Rosha. After a walk through the plantings, with an explanation of how they grow, pick and prepare tea at the northernmost plantation in the world, we were invited to the lodge to sample some of their product with cakes and other treats. All I have to say is...there's a reason tea is grown further south. This tea, as if influenced by the nearby forest, indeed tasted like "som sheet"!—Posted by: poetloverrebelspy

The entries were so good, we decided to award more than one prize. One reader will receive the tea basket (which we previously described). Four others will receive copies of The Smart Travelers Passport: 399 Tips From Seasoned Travelers.

See the full list of reader submissions.


The ABCs of Tea: Aficionados explain how to buy it, brew it, and slurp it.

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