3 Cups per Break, 4 Breaks per Day or How East Frisians Drink Their Tea

The tiny medieval tea house in Bremen's Schnoor district

Earlier in December I made a short visit to Bremen to meet my brother. But what I got to discover there was beyond my expectations. Schnoor-Tee Stübchen, a very unique medieval tea house, was on top of places to see list in Bremen for a good reason.

I have learnt that tea was first brought to Germany through East Frisia, therefore, Northern German cities have deep tea-drinking traditions. East Frisians say that three is an East Frisian right (“dree is ostfreesenrecht”) which simply means that once they sit down for a tea break, 3 cups of tea is a must. No wonder why East Frisians are the top tea consumers in the world (after Irish).

So what’s so special about the East Frisian tea? The traditional tea is a blend of Assam and Ceylon teas which makes it very strong and with good aroma. To mitigate its bitterness a rock sugar candy klunjes is used along with a spoonful of cream. A rule of thumb to remember is don’t stir the tea!

The East Frisian Tea Ceremony

Step 1

Tea is brewed for 3 to 5 minutes in a pre-warmed tea pot and served in traditional design cups.

East Frisian tea served in unique design cups

Usually tea pots are left on special holders with tea lights under to keep the tea warm.

Tea holders to keep the tea warm

Step 2

A rock candy is dropped in a cup. Ideally you add it before the tea is poured in.

A rock sugar candy called kluntje

Step 3

Now it’s turn for cream. A spoon of cream is carefully added to the side of the cup. The cold cream runs down creating clouds.Adding cream is the last step before you drink the East Frisian tea

Cream clouds in the tea

Now you’re ready to drink your tea! 🙂 Some sources say that you should drink this tea in three big sips to taste three different flavors: the hot tea followed by the cream and the sweetness at the end. The tradition of not stirring comes from the times when sugar was expensive and so for it to last at least three rounds of tea, it was left to melt at the bottom. Only when you’re done drinking tea, you should place the spoon in the cup, otherwise it will be refilled.

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