Wednesday, 4 July 2007
Czech coffee (and tea?)
Czech coffee (kava) is drunk dark and strong. It is like a giant turkish coffee and with just as great a caffeine kick. A lady friend of mine has been plying me with it in her flat for several months now and so I decided to ask for a lesson on how to make it. Basically you need several spoonfuls of well-ground roasted coffee in the bottom of a mug or cup, add boiling water, stir well, add milk and sugar to taste, and stir again. Then let the coffee stand for a while until the grounds settle at the bottom. Drink at your leisure until just before you hit the mud of coffee grounds!
There is a Czech phrase "To je silná káva" - "that's rich coffee" meaning "that's rich". There is an equivalent for tea - only it's in the opposite - "that's weak tea" meaning "nothing much". As usual the Czechs are spot on - the tea here is indeed nothing much. Tea here is served horribly weak - "gnat's piss" as they say in England. Sadly the Czechs are under the illusion that the tea that we export here under the name of English Breakfast Tea is actually what the Brits drink. Well for any Czechs reading this, may I disillusion you - we do not drink Lipton's export tea in England, we drink Typhoo or PG Tips - tea which "will put hair on your chest" (another English phrase about tea). My husband and I bring large amounts of English teabags over from England in our luggage, so we can drink proper tea.
All this talk of coffee and tea reminds me of my first visit to Prague and a visit to Cafe Slavia. I arrived at the cafe one day to meet up with my puppeteer friend, to find her trying to explain to the waiter that she wanted the tea with milk and to leave the teabag in. For years she had told me how she was really Czech and there she was desperate for that most British of institutions - a proper cup of tea!
If you do come to Krumlov, don't try to find a British cuppa. Instead go to the Laibon tearooms (see the photo) run by the lovely David and try out the exotic teas they have on offer. I recommend the yogi tea.