Saturday, 1 December 2012

A cup of tea

When someone visits, make some tea
When someone leaves, make some tea
When someone dies, make some tea
When someone's born, make some tea
When someone's sick, make some tea
When someone's got news, make some tea
When a baby's sleeping, make some tea
When you arrive home, make some tea
When you're hungover, make some tea
When you're waiting, make some tea.

"I'll put on the kettle" must be the most comforting phrase in this world.

We use tea to celebrate, commiserate, bond, gossip.
It is a non-stop routine in most of our lives. Some people have the hours already chosen in each day when they will be drinking tea, knowing it ahead of time gives them comfort and reassurance.
My favourite mug, given to me for my first ever Mother's Day had a photo of Charlie's chubby baby face on it, a huge smile, and the words I love you Mam (the last "a" got left out!). It sadly cracked after a good 2 year's constant use, but has pride of place on the kitchen windowsill.

This isn't our one, it's a distant cousin, but you get the idea

My favourite teapot cost 2.50e in a charity shop about four years ago. It is yellow enamel, old as the hills, with Bakelite handle and knob which need oiling with olive oil after a trip through the dishwasher. I love that it can sit on the hob and brew tea from scratch, it's virtually indestructible, and it comes on holidays with us, packed with teabags.
We alternate between Lyon's and Barry's brand teabags, after a brief foray into loose-leaf territory (too unpredictable and faff-y), though I've started blending my own teas after I found some cool candy-cane Santa's tea here. I made a chai blend the other day, using cloves, black peppercorns, mixed spice, ground ginger, cardamom pods and fennel, I add a spoon of it with a normal teabag/loose black tea leaves into a small teapot / infuser, and it's really refreshing.
We use one teabag per mug, so go through a lot of teabags in a week.
We drink it with breakfast, later in the morning, after lunch, in the afternoon, after dinner and at bedtime. We drink decaf later in the day, from the afternoon on.
I'm useless before my first cup of tea in the morning, don't ask me any questions, don't tell me anything, my brain just can't function until I'm at least halfway through my tea.

We use whistling kettles on the hob, and recently bought a new Villeroy and Boch like the one above for 10e in a charity shop. Our Le Creuset one had had it's arse burnt out too many times, and a few too many bumps and bruises. Barry's granny used to say the whistling kettle is better as it forces you to actually go into the kitchen and make the tea, rather than let it boil, cool, re-boil etc.
We recently bought a kettle for upstairs, so the last cuppa and the first cuppa of the day are easier to make. I like it strong with milk and one sugar, or honey
Ginger tea is great sometimes, if I'm trying to detox, or I'm run-down, I'll add a slice of ginger root to a mug of boiling water with honey. I'm not a fan of honey and lemon, unless I'm really ill and it's got garlic, chilli and ginger too. In Polish supermarkets you can get a huge array of flavoured teas, really cheap (under a euro for about 20 bags) and in pretty boxes. I'm loving a pear one sweetened with honey:

I adore coffee, but it's not good for me, it gets me too jittery and it's definitely addictive. It kills me because I love all the flavoured syrups, the foamed milk, the assembling, the sprinkling of cocoa on top, the kick of the caffeine. But I abstain because it's not something I can do in moderation, I get quickly hooked, needing more each day until I'm having headaches and jitters and compulsive behaviour - seriously, tea is much safer for me!
Tea is my comfort, my solace, my meditation, my ritual, the rhythm of my day.
Tea is the fabric of our lives, woven through our days, our thoughts, our habits.
How do you drink yours?

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