Today I thought I’d pay homage to something that’s seen me through the best of times and the worst of times. In various assortments, settings and seasons, a good cup of tea has been there for me.
I grew up having teatime in my quasi-British household (one generation removed). We would slow the grind of Saturday dance lessons, grocery store trips and park outings to converge in the living room for tea. One of the parents would boil the water and line up four mugs on the counter, each containing a slight pour of milk. The tea would set in our blue teapot and cat-patterned tea cozy, waiting to warm our mugs and bellies. This is when mum would call us all from various corners of the house, away from building Barbie houses and dressing in police officer costumes.
“Sit still, don’t spill,” she’d tell me as she put a warm cup of tea into my little girl hands. My dad would take his spot on the couch, signaling to the cat that it was time to come and rest on his lap. My brother would whine that the cat never wanted to lie in his lap.
“Ahhh…” my dad would exhale after inhaling the first sip. “A good batch,” he’d review. Whether we sat quietly enjoying the first few sips of tea, or whether one of us kids would begin soliciting for attention, teatime was always enjoyed. Sometimes I dipped graham crackers into my tea, because it was too hot to drink right away. Mum would eye me carefully from her pink chair, watching to make sure my tea stayed in my cup as chucks of cracker fell into the brown abyss.
As I grew into an angry and sometimes rebellious teen, teatime accompanied “the talks” between my parents and I. A talk for me to beg for more allowance or a later curfew, a talk to tell me I’d have to start babysitting my baby sister more often. Tea was sipped and warmed our palms as we discussed how to arrange and control my growing up. As a reflective young adult, teatime has been my constant. It has been a continuous pattern that has carried through Saturdays and stretched out into after school and after work decompressing rituals. Visitors were always greeted with a warm hug and a warmer cup of tea. The boyfriend, foreign to our tea ritual, was slowly drawn in to the practice with me. Like a religion, tea has continued to be our cleansing ritual at day’s end, making our insides warm and our soul’s realigned to the sensations of peace.
Whenever guests visit me, whether you’re my lifelong best friend, my grandma or a friend’s parent, tea will be poured. No matter the time of year or the temperature out, there is always just cause for tea.
Tea has eased near-shot, frazzled nerves as I stare at a white computer screen, anxious to fill it with he words that will become a grade-A essay. Tea has joined me on the couch, warming my skin, letting the day’s frustrations seep out through my near-sweating skin. It joins me now, as I savour its ability to transport me to a more transcendental place than this cubicle.
I reflected this past weekend, while visiting my aunt and uncle at their log house in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by fresh breeze and green trees, that while in vino there may be veritas, but in tea, there is sublime peace and comfort.
Off to the ocean for the long weekend; leaving tomorrow for the beach at Ogunquit, Maine. Lobster rolls, waves, and sun kissed noses, here I come.