Local Heart, Global Soul

September 27, 2011

The Typical Dutch … Tea Box?

Filed under: FOOD,THE NETHERLANDS,Traditional — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

You know that the Dutch are a truly a nation of coffee drinkers because the smallest spoon in the cutlery tray in their kitchen is of course, translates from Dutch as “coffeespoon” and not  a “teaspoon” as it is in anglophone countries.

That said, tea drinking has taken off in the Netherlands and the varieties of tea on the shelves in the last decade has grown ten-fold.

I know that tea is often seen as more of an evening drink, something to drink before bed, but without the caffine kick that nice strong Dutch coffee would give, and generally I didn’t think much more of it than that.

Then, last week we had a fellow blogger around to join us in a quick family dinner  before she departed the Netherlands and I asked her about what were some of the “different” experiences she had had during her three month stay.

To my surprise one of her answers was “tea”!  … and more specifically, the fact the end of  every Dutch dinner party is rounded off with a cup of tea or coffee.. without fail (I have to admit,  that’s really true… for many people it’s also the social signal that the evening is over and it’s the hint that guests are expected to leave soon LOL).

The other aspect that she found striking about the tea and coffee “ritual” was the little container of various teas that most Dutch households (yes including ours) now find themselves with.

Inside this container are the various teas that you have in the house, if you have guests, you bring out the little box and let your tea drinking guest choose the flavour they like the most. I never thought anything of it  …but it’s true,  it’s like this everywhere.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I’ll be brutally honest why our various tea bags are all in little compartments in one little box: it’s because  my Dutch kitchen is so small microscopic that it’s easier to have these all in one place than to keep five half empty cardboard boxes in my cupboards taking up space, and the disorganised rummaging it would take to find “the flavour  you know you have, … it must be at the back of this cupboard somewhere”  is also thus eliminated.

Our tea selection pales in comparison to others I know. I like herb tea but like my herbs ‘pure”. By this I mean: peppermint and mint tea is made from actual mint leaves and Rooibos tea is made from leaves from the South African Rooibos shrub, camomile is made from the camomile  herb so there is no “tea” leaf  with say, “apricot flavour” or “vanilla flavour”etc,  just the pure herb.

This means there is also no caffeine or tannin, and since I like my tea strong and without sugar or milk, I can leave my Rooibos tea to “stew”and it gets strong but not bitter. If I’m out somewhere and only the “flavoured’ tea is on offer then I have no problem to drink it,  it’s just not my preferred choice.

Himself prefers pure  black tea (in quantities that would engulf our little tea box) so the back tea gets a container of it’s own.

So would the Dutch way of signalling the end of an evening dinner party with a cup of tea/coffee be a new idea where you are?.. and if you do serve tea, and you have more than one sort, how do you go about letting your guest choose (or do they not get to choose?).

Start your peculators and boil your kettles… Kiwidutch has become very curious.


  1. Here in the UK we always end with tea and coffee. I don’t have a box like that but I’m going to get me one!

    Comment by Tilly Bud — September 27, 2011 @ 7:47 am | Reply

  2. I would love one of those containers! I have left a surprise for you on my post today….RaeDi

    Comment by ....RaeDi — September 27, 2011 @ 5:02 pm | Reply

  3. Lovely tea box!

    Neither hubby nor I drink coffee (never have – strange, huh?) but we LOVE tea! We prefer to brew ‘loose teas’ and have a special maker, called appropriately a “Mrs. Tea” (I’m not kidding) that brews a perfect pot!

    Hubby likes all kinds, including black teas, but me? well, I like herbal teas. My favorite is Organic Peppermint. Sometimes, I mix it with Sweet Chamomile and Green Tea. We used to have one called Triple Ginseng that we absolutely loved but have been unalbe to find it. Was a gift and unfofortunately, we didn’t keep the box, so we I try to research I am guessing at the which one it ‘could’ be. We’ve tried a few labeled as such but they are sadly, NOT the same.

    So, when we have guests for dinner (or breakfast) we typically brew up a pot. Most like the peppermint tea or the blend. We also typically drink it ‘black’ but occaisionally, we’ll go for a bit of sugar and cream (that’s a treat!)

    Comment by milkayphoto — September 27, 2011 @ 6:21 pm | Reply

  4. My favourite when it comes to tea would be camomile, lavender and jasmine, love their smell and it so soothing

    Comment by rsmacaalay — September 28, 2011 @ 6:54 am | Reply

  5. I really do wonder if the box is uniquely Dutch! I know my parents (Chinese) drink tea and I’ve had dinners at British households, but never had I seen the tea box like I did in The Hague. Last week, I was shopping at Cost Plus World Market (it’s like a HEMA or Kruidvat with all kinds of imported foods, cookware, housewares, furniture, etc.) and saw tons of Dutch products including a tea box, and it made me miss the Netherlands very much.

    Comment by ireneenroute — October 5, 2011 @ 10:35 pm | Reply

  6. So funny you can find those containers here in Germany too!! I love tea and was just looking at them, thinking of buying one at the weekend. (I didn’t, I bought a couple of presents instead).

    Here I’ve not actually seen them in peoples houses so much, but often in restaurants etc.

    Comment by sarsm — October 6, 2011 @ 7:14 am | Reply

  7. Where can I get one box in Italy?

    Comment by Edi — June 5, 2012 @ 8:13 pm | Reply

    • Sorry, Since I’m not in Italy I have no idea… do gift shops have these maybe?

      Comment by kiwidutch — June 5, 2012 @ 8:56 pm | Reply

  8. […] Small Box Of Tea […]

    Pingback by Leo’s On The Move Pt 2 — June 22, 2017 @ 4:18 am | Reply

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