Tag Archives: tea

I’m English; I drink Tea; I ask.

A couple of months ago I mentioned my strawberry tea set. And today we had tea but not in my tea set, rather in delightful Rosenthal cups.

teaset1

Can anyone tell me why tea tastes so much better when drunk from a thin, bone china cup?  Even a bone china mug is not as good. This is just one of several problems on my mind today.

And why does it seem OK to have a “toes up” in the afternoon when you are away from home but not when you are at home?

Can anyone tell me why tidying dishes etc around someone else’s kitchen seems less onerous than when doing the same chores at home?

And why when you are away from home, do the shops have a better choice of things than your local shops?

And why is the sky bluer, the sun warmer, the air clearer, the waves better and the sea more inviting, when you are away?

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Tea Drinkers Unite

It had been a tiring day. Visit to the hospital, discussions with the doctor, the therapist and of course, her mother. It was very distressing that her mother barely recognised her; she often thought her a nurse.

The one bright moment in the harrowing afternoon was when an orderly brought the tea tray. At that moment her mother reverted to how she used to be, graciously pouring tea into the bone china cups and offering cake and biscuits.

This ritual of offering and accepting the cup of tea brought her mother back to her, if only for a short time.

The 100 Word Challenge is to tell a story in only 100 words.
This week’s theme is “Cup”

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Misunderstandings

“An apology costs nothing but can save a situation or even a friendship. ” Judith Baxter

One of the blogs that I follow is Lisa’s at Woman Wielding Words.  Lisa’s blog dated 2 October (yesterday, today?) talked about Blogging Etiquette among other things.  This post led to a number of very interesting comments and I would direct you to them.

Having read it and thought about it and the comments I then thought of how very easy it is to upset people even in the real world.  I wrote about my week a couple of days ago and told of how I had been taken out to high tea.  A thoroughly enjoyable experience but one that I thought was misnamed.

Afternoon tea

I had occasion to call the tearoom  the next day (to tell them that 500 grams of loose tea was far too much for me) and to tell  them how much I enjoyed the experience.  While doing so, I took the opportunity to point out, in what I thought was a very pleasant manner, the difference between high and afternoon tea.  Meaning to share some constructive not destructive criticism.

English is not the first language of Henry to whom I spoke and imagine my surprise when I had a message on my i-Phone (can’t resist that plug for my new toy) from the owner saying that she understood I had been disappointed in the tea and could not understand why.  She pointed out, quite sharply, that they were not trying to be traditional and in fact, were trying something different.

I immediately called back to speak with her and got her mother – apparently she is involved in the management of the tearoom – to be told that her daughter is very susceptible sensitive to criticism.  I explained again the reason for my comment and assured her that I had enjoyed the experience greatly.  But I wonder if she was convinced.

So I shall have to make another trip to that tearoom, not only to sample that wonderful tea blend once again but also to make peace with this woman whose ego is so fragile.

This experience has brought to mind once again, the inherent dangers in communicating in ways other than face to face.

Best friends

Communicating in person, face to face er.. dog to dog.

`Take some more tea,’ the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly.
`I’ve had nothing yet,’ Alice replied in an offended tone, `so I can’t take more.’
`You mean you can’t take less,’ said the Hatter: `it’s very easy to take more than nothing.’
`Nobody asked your opinion,’ said Alice.”
From Alice in Wonderland of course.

Favourite things

Today I had no idea what to base my blog on and then it came to me – Here are a few of my favourite things.

Julie Andrews (and many artists since) sang of

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things
Cream colored ponies and crisp apple streudels
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things

But really none of these make my list of favourite things except perhaps doorbells that ring heralding the arrival of family and friends.

My list is made up of (among other things):

  • Bright spring mornings after a long, dreary winter – Spring starts here officially on September 1
  • And as it’s spring, the first daffodils pushing up through the earth and soon will be showing their yellow heads along with the crocuses and soon the roses will flower and we will know the winter is past.
  • My faithful companion Lotte, the Tibetan Spaniel
  • My four ever-growing, sturdy grandsons.  All with one exception are now taller than their Granma
  • My son and daughter and their spouses
  • The smell of home baking in my daughter-in-law’s or friends houses
  • My two sisters though on other continents and far apart we share an ongoing love and commitment to each other
  • The early morning birdsong heard here even in the middle of a busy city
  • The happy sound of children walking past on their way to school
  • My first cup of tea in the morning
  • My warm shower to start the day
  • My friends both in real life and in the blogosphere
  •  My coffee with friends each day
  • My time spent at the Hospice each week among people doing what they do best, helping the sick and dying, and doing it with charm, grace and cheerfulness
  • One piece of particularly good chocolate to savour
  • Fresh flowers around my house at any time of the year
  • cup of latte

    Latte from my favourite coffee shop

Daffoldils

Photo - Anthony Hall, Dreamstime

Lotte at the window

Watching the world go by

My list can go on and on but what about your favourite things?

 “The only difference between an extraordinary life and an ordinary one is the extraordinary pleasures you find in ordinary things.”
Veronique Vienne, American Editor, writer, commentator

I’m English so I drink tea

Teapot
“Strange how a teapot can represent at the same time the comforts of solitude and the pleasures of company.”  ~Author Unknown

Growing up it seemed that the adults were always drinking tea and the little brown teapot above is exactly the same as the one my Mother had, the one my Grandmother had and from this distance, it seemed that each of my aunts had the same teapot.

During and immediately after the Second World War tea was rationed and so they didn’t just make another pot of tea when the pot was empty they added hot water.  The tea was left to ‘steep’ for a long time so that the dark brown color could come through.  And of course, it was leaf tea – no tea bags available then. And there was a ritual to making tea.

First the water always taken from the cold tap, was brought to the boil  It had to be watched because usually the kettle sat on the stove and there was no automatic turn off.  Whistling kettleOur kettle was a whistling kettle – the noise when the water came to the boil was enough to frighten anybody. Then  the pot was rinsed in hot water.  Note here from Mother – ‘always take the pot to the kettle, never the kettle to the pot’.  All these years later I don’t know why; I do know we just did it that way.  Then when the pot was rinsed out the tea leaves would be measured into it from the tea box, water was added and then the tea cosy was put on the pot, the pot on the tray and tea was ready to be served. If you don’t know what a tea cosy is click here.  You will even get instructions on how to make one.

Tea cup and saucerCups of tea were offered and drunk at every opportunity it seemed.  But we children were never offered any.  I think I was probably about 13 before I got my first taste of tea and I remember that I didn’t like it!

Tea has a different taste wherever you happen to be in the world.  London water is so hard that tea is almost bitter, while tea made in Glasgow is sweet.  Glasgow’s water (at least when I lived there 40 years ago) was among the purest in the world.

As children we eagerly looked forward to afternoon tea after school.

Victoria sponge cakeIt always seemed to have a Victoria sponge cake on offer – perhaps that is all Mother could make with the rationed ingredients.


Here’s a potted history on tea:

  • According to legend, tea was first discovered by Chinese Emperor Shen Nong in 2737 BC when some tea leaves floated into a pot of boiling water. It wasn’t until the mid-1600s, however, that tea finally reached England. Due to its sale being controlled by trade monopolies, and that it had to be imported from China via boat traveling around the Cape of Africa and then north to England, it was a rather costly commodity.
  • The first known record of tea being imported into England was the charter granted by Elizabeth I to The East India Company.
  • The first merchant to sell tea was Thomas Garway who offered it in both a dry and liquid form at his coffeehouse in Exchange Alley in London. The coffee houses proved very popular and by 1700 and there were more than 500 in London.  By the middle of the 18th century, tea replaced ale and gin as the nation’s drink.
  • As with most customs in England, when having tea became an accepted practice of the Royals, it then spread down to the working classes.

Because it was so expensive the loose tea was kept in a locked box to stop Victorian tea caddyservants from stealing it.  In some instances these were very elaborate.

On a hunt to purchase a Christmas present for my late husband I came across a delightful Victorian silver tea caddy.  (Picture will come later when I have renewed the batteries in the camera.)

So now I am off to have breakfast – 8.30 am on Saturday morning here in New Zealand – and am about to make myself a pot of tea to have with my toast.

Tea pot

Toast and marmalade


 

 

 

 

Tea! thou soft, thou sober, sage, and venerable liquid,… thou female tongue-running, smile-smoothing, heart-opening, wind-tippling cordial, to whose glorious insipidity I owe the happiest moment of my life, let me fall prostrate.  ~Colley Cibber, 1671  1757) English actor-manager, playwright
and Poet Laureate.

And from Lu Tong,  790–835  Chinese poet of Tang Dynasty known for his lifelong study of the “Tea Culture“.

The first cup caresses my dry lips and throat,
The second shatters the walls of my loneliness,

The third explores the dry rivulets of my soul
.
Searching for legends of five thousand scrolls.

With the fourth the pain of past injustice vanishes through my pores.

The fifth purifies my flesh and bone.
With the sixth I commune with the immortals.
The seventh conveys such pleasure I am overcome.

The fresh wind blows through my wings

As I make my way to Penglai.

LU TONG, Thanks to Imperial Censor Meng for His Gift of Freshly Picked Tea

And I make no apologies for the fact that there are two quotes in ending today I could not choose between them.