My Cup of Tea


Now for my last rationing category, tea. As I’ve said before, this was the hardest category to keep within coupons for, especially since I set them so low. The good news is that after this I must admit painful readjustment, and even though I don’t have any coupons left, I will have plenty of tea to see me through 2014. I’ve been pacing the drinking of my favorites with using up some of my older, not so favorites, and it’s been ok. I miss wanton tea buying! I do. It’s wasteful and I don’t have the funds or room for it but I miss it. I love my small, careful wardrobe and natural handmade toiletries, but I literally dream of placing a $100 order with Harney and Sons several times a month! I look at the web sites of tea companies longingly, more often than I care to admit. I even stare at the tea shelf in Whole Foods before sadly walking away with my head down. This must be what gamblers, smokers, and heroin addicts feel like. Hello, I’m Jacqueline Manni, and I’m a teaholic. It will get better with time!

What have I learned this year? The most valuable lesson I learned is that I placed too great an emphasis on variety in the past years. When it boils (ha! tea humor) down to it, I like to drink Earl Grey and a good Chinese black or two at work, with two or three “extras” depending on the time of year (such as a dark oolong in the winter, or Tie Guan Yin in spring) and my mood (when I’m feeling especially old-fashioned I love a rose tea!). At home I love a Lady Grey, a Vanilla tea, a light black (like Ceylon) and a strong black (like English breakfast), all which I drink with milk and sugar. I also love a rooibos chai for late nights, and an herbal or two for caffeine free warmth or when I’m sick. Throw in a “gotta try it!” (oh how  I want to try the Harney and Sons Capri blend — lemon and fig. Cry.) or “best of the season” (Darjeeling, I’m looking at you. Holiday blend, I’m looking at you too!) or two and I rest at 15 tins of tea in work and home cupboards at one time as an ideal. I could never figure this number out to my satisfaction when I was actively buying loads of tea, but finally, finally, I feel like I have a handle on it. Thank you, rationing project! You are hard, but you are just.


I’m not near that magical 15 tins of tea yet.

Consequently, another year of tighter than WWII level rationing is necessary.  I am going to give myself 30 coupons — 1 coupon = 2 oz tea — in 2015. This is tripled from last year, but a little more than half of the wartime ration of 52 coupons a year. This coupon plan will help me drink through my stash yet keep me in my core tea loves and some extras with planning (and discipline!)! I am so not strong enough yet to keep on the wagon without help!

One other important thing that I learned this year is that there is plastic in most tea bags! Yes, even the ones that look like they are just paper (as opposed to the silken sachets which are way, way plastic). I don’t have many tea bags, but I did buy two boxes of bags this year to tide me over with vanilla tea and herbal tea. No. No more. It infuriates me that they even put plastic in TEA BAGS! It’s bad enough  that half the time they cover innocent boxes in it, and then there is another plastic bag inside sometimes, but egads — it’s even in part of the bag that you submerge in hot water and ingest. Wrong, on so many levels. Not participating in the tea bag buying anymore. Loose leaf tastes better anyway 🙂



  1. Arrrghhh! Plastic! And I just went a checked my favourite blend, Clipper organic green and mint, and they use plastic too. OMG – I feel a tea crisis coming on… :(((((

      1. They really hide it up – I’d never hear this before! At least Clipper do say so on their website if you search the FAQs enough, but I’ve had to email another favourite, Teapigs, to find out about their bags. Grr….

  2. Thanks for sharing your honest experience with tea. I think tea to you is like spirits & fortified wines in our house. It’s not that we drink them everyday or even every week, we just like the flavour of single malts, ports, sherries, marsala, calvados, grappa, gin, martini.. and as we are real foodies, different aperitifs and digestifs work with different foods in different seasons… Consequently we have an impressively stocked bar that will last us years!

    I think your 30 coupons is a very fair arrangement as a wartime ration would have been 52.

    I find the whole wartime food rationing fascinating from a social/food history perspective. I’ve been following parts of it, informally (i.e. without Mr M knowing) for some time and for some rations we don’t even get close to the wartime weekly/monthly rations (e.g. sugar, milk, even jams…), for others we are pretty much in line with those rations (e.g. fat and meat) and for others we overshoot slightly (e.g. cheese).

    When you drill down into the relevance/appropriateness of adopting wartime rationing now, what keeps striking me is how feasible the quantities are because they were based on science, i.e. nutritional needs. The big complaint about wartime food rationing during the war was that it was dull due to the lack of variety and it being hard to find simple things (like onions) but not that people went hungry. I reckon if we were to adopt the quantity principles and pair them with the variety of vegetables, fruits, pulses, spices… that we now have access too we would probably all be fine! Add in more cycling and walking and we’d probably shed a few pounds too… (Unfortunately that strategy is unlikely to make much difference for me because I already walk and cycle as neither Mr M or I drive 😉 ) I don’t know about you, but on the hole I find rationing really inspiring and in some ways quite liberating. I rarely make a special trip to the shop to pick up a missing ingredients as I am so use to making do with pantry stock!

    1. Yes, I find it completely inspiring! Even though the tea ration is hard for me, it’s necessary. In a way , I’m glad it’s hard — the clothing and soap rations were easy, natural, and enjoyable for me — something needs to be hard 🙂 Plus it showed me that even though I wanted to buy All The Tea, I didn’t. If I put my mind to something, I can do it! A good lesson for all areas of my life 🙂

    2. …and yes, I agree — we’d all be fine with food related war time rations. I’ve read in several places that despite the war, associated stress and rationing, the British people were at their healthiest because of more plant based foods and increased activity. I know I want to work some of that into my 2015 ration year, but I’m not sure how just yet. I have a month and a half to figure it out!

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