Saturday, January 1, 2011

Have A Cuppa Tea

From Merriam Webster:
a : a shrub (Camellia sinensis of the family Theaceae, the tea family) cultivated especially in China, Japan, and the East Indies b : the leaves, leaf buds, and internodes of the tea plant prepared and cured for the market, classed according to method of manufacture into one set of types (as green tea, black tea, or oolong), and graded according to leaf size into another (as orange pekoe, pekoe, or souchong)
: an aromatic beverage prepared from tea leaves by infusion with boiling water
a : any of various plants somewhat resembling tea in properties; also : an infusion of their leaves used medicinally or as a beverage
a : refreshments usually including tea with sandwiches, crackers, or cookies served in late afternoon b : a reception, snack, or meal at which tea is served

My first memories of drinking hot tea are of me sitting on the sofa, bedecked by pillows, Mom’s beloved Serape, and being sick.  It’s summer, but I’m shivering.  I have a bad cold or maybe even the flu.  I’m watching Deputy Dawg early in the morning.  Mom comes into the living room with two steaming cups:  One is hers.  One is mine.  I wasn’t expecting this.  She’s giving me coffee? She puts the cup onto the black slate coffee table.  “Let it cool, but not too much; you want that steam to open your sinuses up… and the hot tea will soothe your throat.” 

‘Tea?’  I thought to myself.  I looked at it; craning my neck over and grimacing as I looked at the steaming black liquid. My tall black & white Braniff Airlines mug that I got on my first flight to Texas.   I've never had tea, before.  I looked at Mom.  She nodded toward the steaming cup:

“Just gently hold it in your hands.  Let that steam warm you up.  Go ahead.”  She watched as I did this.  “Now, slowly take a sip… it has sugar…”  She read me like only a mom could; if it’s sweet, I’ll try it.  I inhaled.  An interesting aroma, not something I had ever smelled, before.  It had an odd aroma.  Not unpleasant, but just… odd.  I did like how the steam seemed to open my clogged nose, though.  Slowly I brought it to my lips and sipped as mom watched over her glasses.  Not enough to taste.  Another sip.  HOT.  Telling me to slow down, I did.  It was strange.  I loved it. 

I only drank tea when I was sick.  Plain old Lipton.  I would pretend to drink tea when I was really little.  My white porcelain tea set was always used with mom’s sterling tiny tea spoons (funny though, as she never drank the stuff).  Never with real tea, though! Air tea... or, if I could get away with it, water.  The way I saw it, only old ladies from England drank tea… with their pinkies sticking out and talking snobbery in thick British accents.

Like I said earlier, Mom was not a tea drinker. I don't think I have ever seen her drink a hot cup of tea.  She would make an occasional pitcher of iced tea… but not often.  Honestly, I don’t think she quite knew how.  It's an art form.  My Aunt Cammie has perfected it.   I noticed years later, that my father would get a craving for some and mom would pick up a can of instant Nestea.  You know, Don Meredith?  Instant, just like the coffee she drank. Not bad when it’s all you know (It took me a while to learn to like BREWED iced tea... again, thank you, Aunt Cammie)!

When I was in junior high school, I saw something on TV that I thought was really neat.  Flavored tea.  Not instant in cans.  Actual tea bags.  In little tiny boxes.  Our next door neighbors were from the Bahamas.  One day, I went over to visit and they offered me a cup of tea, as it was High Tea Time.  I was introduced to not only the ritual of Tea Time, but to something called Red Zinger by Celestial Seasonings.  They raved about this tea.  “It’s red because it’s made with Hibiscus, girl!”  I started buying teas to enjoy at home.

I honestly don’t know the true ritual of Tea.  All I know, is that around two o’clock, I heat up some water and make a cup… or ‘cuppa’ as my favorite band The Kinks would sing about:

Whatever the situation, whatever the race or creed,
Tea knows no segregation, no class nor pedigree
It knows no motivations, no sect or organization,
It knows no one religion,
Nor political belief.
Have a cuppa tea, have a cuppa tea,
have a cuppa tea, have a cuppa tea,
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, Rosie Lea
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, Rosie Lea.
There is just something about a hot cup of tea in the afternoon.  It allows us to take a break.  You don’t have tea while you’re cleaning, or folding laundry, or paying bills.  You enjoy it while on the phone with a friend.  While reading, or doing embroidery, or even while watching TV.  Or even when you’re doing nothing but staring out the window, wishing you were somewhere else.   It’s a little escape.  Not that I need permission to take a break, but tea just seems to justify why I’m sitting and doing nothing important. 
Just within the past few years, I have taken Tea Time a bit more seriously.  I have some nice tea cups.  I inherited a lovely china teapot.  I use them daily.  I have a dear friend that also enjoys tea as much as I do.  We now get together once a month to have Tea together.  It’s something I look forward to very much.    I want to learn more about a proper Tea.   I find the art of reading tea leaves fascinating… but I need to learn to brew it using loose tea, first, I suppose.  I need a tea ball, don’t I?  See; I don’t know.  I want to, though. 
So, until then, I’ll have my teacups (Sorry, no Royal Doulton… Royal Grafton will have to do… would Hyacinth Bucket approve?), and my teapot and some nice teas at the ready on the 12th, when my dear friend comes to Tea.  And I’ll save the beaker for when I’m alone… or maybe I won’t.  Cheerio!


  1. Hyacinth might not approve of anything other than Royal Doulton...but I approve of any cup in which you choose to serve tea! this is a beautiful post. I'll see if I have an extra teaball floating around here. Love you, friend!

  2. Thank you, my friend! I'll remind you... let me write that down: ' Remind myself to remind Donna...'

    I don't even care if you brush against my walls.

  3. It's going to be end of mine day, except before end I am reading this great post to improve my experience.

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  4. Thank you for reading and for your kind words!


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