Early in the morning I drag myself from my bed after a restless night and seize my favorite tea mug off the countertop where I set it the previous night to be available without much need for reference vision. I grope in the cabinet, plunk in a good bracing bag of Red Rose Original, and then “cheat” by filling the cup to the brim with hot-water-on-tap. Within 5 minutes I’m burning my mouth and slurping without manners trying to lip-cool enough of the sturdy brew to kick the quilt off my brain. There’s some strange, near-magic in tea leaves. Whether you are of the “loose tea” or “tea bag” factions, that tablespoon or so of carefully dried and prepared tea leaves synthesizes with boiling-hot water to become color, flavor, alertness and restoration in your cup.
There are so many varieties of tea (and tea drinkers)… the strong black drinkers, the fancy Darjeeling fans, white tea, green tea, flavored fruit tea, herbal tea aficionados. Some of us like it in pots, some in mugs. We doctor it different ways – milk or cream, sugar, honey, stevia… or not at all. Some sip it delicately from even-more-delicate fine china. Some toss it back headless, from coffee cups. Like the modern cup of coffee, the way we drink our tea says something about us. Me? I prefer strong black tea, the “breakfast” varieties from Irish to English. My small kitchen sports one single-width cabinet dedicated to my tea, and other varieties from Blueberry Acai Berry to Raspberry, Chamomile and Sleepy Time, Echinacea and Earl Grey join the Orange Pekoe-Black tea standards. I admit that some varieties are caffeine-free… I have enough problems sleeping at night without adding caffeine to the mix!
I like the convenience of teabags but love making a personal pot with my Tasha Tudor loose-leaf Welsh Breakfast. I drink it straight up, hot, without additives. I prefer a heavy stoneware mug, the larger the better, as per CS Lewis, who wrote to my complete agreement, “You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me.”
I have a small collection of teapots, including the teapot that came with my parent’s wedding china 45 years ago, another inherited from my late mother-in-law, a dented copper pot with white and blue porcelain handle, and my most-used pot – a 2.5 cupper, heavy brown stoneware that was my Grandmother Robin’s for many years. She changed to another, same-sized teapot so I could take her home with me for tea!
I like tea cozies too. I figured out a couple of years ago how to make them on my Knifty Knitter loom, and have a variety of colored cozies double-knit with remnant yarns. I put a pom-pom on top… why not?
This January morning came complete with a headache and sleet… a pink sky and forecast to continue frozen precipitation (aka snow) for the next three days. Ah lovely, a perfect time for a special pot of tea!
Some Favorite Tea Quotes (the books always seem to go hand-in-hand):
A book reads the better which is our own, and has been so long known to us, that we know the topography of its blots, and dog’s ears, and can trace the dirt in it to having read it at tea with buttered muffins. ~Charles Lamb
Tea, though ridiculed by those who are naturally coarse in their nervous sensibilities will always be the favorite beverage of the intellectual. ~Thomas de Quincey
Strange how a teapot can represent at the same time the comforts of solitude and the pleasures of company. ~Author Unknown
All true tea lovers not only like their tea strong, but like it a little stronger with each year that passes. ~George Orwell, “A Nice Cup of Tea”
The first sip of tea is the always the best… you cringe as it burns the back of your throat, knowing you just had the hottest carpe-diem portion. ~Terri Guillemets
The spirit of the tea beverage is one of peace, comfort and refinement. ~ Arthur Gray
“May you always have walls for the winds,
a roof for the rain,
tea beside the fire,
laughter to cheer you,
those you love near you
and all that your heart might desire.” Irish Blessing