I was visited by a friend from junior high days and her young adult granddaughter
and was reminded once again what a marvelous bonding agent a pot of hot tea can
be. They were here for a bit more than a week which we spent in catching up and
filling in gaps of the past five decades. It had been more than twenty years since
we had anything like regular contact, other than the occasional lunch at a meeting
point between Lake Jackson
and Austin a few times in the last two
years, so there were more than a few of our conversations which lasted far into
the wee hours.|
Roni and I met one week after school started in the Fall
of 1962 when her family moved to Beaumont
from South Dakota. That alone qualified her as a fascinating "foreigner", and
I spent hours and hours pumping her for details of life "up there". The fact that
her "Mum" was an English war bride on the Dakota prairie was icing on the cake,
as far as I was concerned.
Over the next few years I spent a lot of time
in and out of the Sherman household being educated in the ways of the British
middle class, at least, the tea drinking parts. I learned a great deal about tea
and its place in a "proper" home, how to brew it, when to serve different varieties
and what vessels made the best brews.
Roni and I prepared and drank countless
pots of tea while she was here, Tetley's British Blend that she brought with her
and the remains of a tin of P.G. Tips pyramidal bags I had on hand, as we reminisced,
not forgetting to "hot the pot" each time, then wrapping my large Brown Betty
in a beautiful quilted cozy Roni had given me the year before as a gift. We used
mugs rather than more delicate china teacups, an adaptation to our comfortable
chats versus entertaining company, but it went down well, nonetheless. It was
the tea itself and that small familiar ritual which evoked memories for us both,
When I left home for the first time to attend the University
of Houston, it was Roni's mother, Rose Sherman who supplied me with a sweet little
brown glazed teapot, decorated with tiny, colored, raised dots in a simple floral
design, a pack of loose tea, a metal tea ball, a tiny silver spoon and my own
personal china teacup and saucer. That semester was a difficult one for several
reasons, and I cried my way through many pots of tea in my tiny apartment in an
old and scary part of Houston, isolated
from familiar people and places. The healing power of a cuppa worked its magic
time and again in the life of a lonely student, for which I was grateful.
lifetime affair with tea, save the occasional mug of Lipton's orange pekoe at
home prior to that time, began way back then. I prefer black teas, mainly, served
milky and sweetened with sucralose or, on occasion, honey, unless I'm under the
weather, in which case lemon and sweetener is my preference. I find that the robust
breakfast blends are a good way to kick start the day, English and Irish Breakfast,
Ceylon if I have it, any of the assam types, while I enjoy Darjeeling, my favorite
afternoon blend, and Prince of Wales. If I've gone a bit wild and laid in a supply
of other teas, you might find small tins of Russian Caravan, Lady Londonderry
and blackcurrant in my pantry. I steer clear of Earl Grey and Lapsang Souchong,
though, to which I have very strong aversions, and any of the herbals other than
an occasional fruit flavored one. I find that it helps to have some English biscuits,
shortbread or some plain cake to round out this civil ritual. It seems to add
to the relaxed ebb and flow of conversation with a friend, and I find that it
adds a little extra bit of civility to the process, unless one "dunks" their "bikky"
or slurps cooling tea from a saucer.
"True Confessions and Mild Obsessions"
October 28, 2013 Column
- Want to know how much a caffeine addict you are?
Related Topics: Food
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