T is for Tea (of course!)

Ah, tea! Hearty Assam, smooth Darjeeling, delicate green, smoky Oolong. Blended, flavored, fermented to all degrees. With honey, milk, sugar, butter, lemon, spices. By the pot, by the cup, by the mug. Loose-leaf, bagged, or tied into flowers. In the morning, at noon, mid-afternoon, or after dinner.

I like both tea (made with the dried leaves of Camellia sinensis) and tisane (infusions that don’t include Camellia sinensis). Of the former, I especially enjoy English Breakfast, jasmine, Tazo’s Zen. Of the latter, I’m partial to rooibos, my own infusion of fresh lemon basil, and a couple of medicinal combinations for various purposes.

Tea (and tisane) has gained enough of a foothold in this country that it’s fairly widely available in some form or another. You can’t always get it hot; you don’t always have much selection; you seldom get it with milk, but you can find it. That makes me ridiculously happy. (Maybe it helps explain why I was so delirious with joy just being in the UK.)

Several years ago, I had a group of friends who held old-fashioned tea parties. Some collected teacups, teapots, and other paraphernalia. Some assembled recipes and tried out menus and techniques. Some scoured tag sales for hats and gloves, table linens, and parasols. We staged elaborate gatherings, complete with poetry readings and croquet, depending on the season. It was glorious fun.

I no longer live near these friends, nor do I have the time or the energy for such theatrics, but I still find both comfort and sustenance in a nice hot cuppa, no matter what the time of day.


4 responses to “T is for Tea (of course!)

  1. You’ve inspired me to brew a pot. 🙂 It’s funny…just a few days ago I was thinking about the role tea has played in my life, especially when I was young. I have fallen away from it to become a coffee snob. But tea is so delicious! And to me it means fellowship and conversation…

    • Jennifer Barricklow

      The nice thing about tea is that it’s always there, waiting, whenever you decide to come back to it. 🙂

      Do you remember way back in grad school (just after the invention of paper, if I recall), one of our fellow students pronounced “chamomile” in a very unusual way? I remember having a conversation with him on the bus one day and being intrigued by this tea he described his grandmother making. It was his favorite, and he couldn’t believe that I’d never heard of it. I felt pretty silly once I realized that he was talking about chamomile tea. I never talked with him further to discover the origin of his peculiar pronunciation; now I wish I had. I bet it was an interesting story, linguistically.

      Anyway, enjoy your tea. I raise my cup to you! 🙂

  2. No, actually, I think we were still writing on papyrus. I do not remember this pronunciation… I’m trying to think how else you could pronounce it…tcha-MOM-ilay? Now I’m curious! Do you remember who it was exactly? I’m going to have tea in the morning. I’m extremely perturbed that I have no honey to put in it though. 🙂

    • Paper, papyrus — they all sort of blur together after enough time passes. Amazingly enough, you’ve got the pronunciation down pretty well: it may have shaded a bit more towards “tcha-MOM-uh-lee.” I cannot remember the guy’s name, though I can picture him quite clearly. He was from New Orleans. I don’t remember having a lot of classes with him, but I’ll never forget that conversation about tea.

      For your morning tea, maybe if you stir it with your clog you can kill two birds with one stone…

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