21 August 2014
Tea Brings Us Together
After my first trip to England in September 2009, I started my evening tea ritual. I began trying different teas and scouring antique shops to grow a collection of teacups. Bone china as delicate as tissue paper sits in my china cabinet and gets pulled out when I feel like being fancy. Porcelain teacups are more handy for everyday.
I really enjoy serving tea. It is something so simple - leaves, herbs, or roots and hot water. But it is a gesture of hospitality.
While in England I had the best tea I've ever tasted. The English know the art of making tea. How to pour the water over the tea, and steep the tea for different amounts of time (depending on the type of tea). So, I followed this process and imitated until it became my second nature. You will never convince me that it is proper to drop a tea bag into a cup of hot water. You can call me a tea snob, I know.
I read about tea and tried many kinds to discover what I like and what I don't. And collected more teacups. I soaked in all the knowledge about tea that I could. I learned about the differences among black tea, white tea, green tea, and red tea. I discovered which teas are best when you drink them straight, and which teas taste best with a touch of milk or honey.
Then, I started having people over for tea. Family and friends. I would carefully set out the delicate teacups with a tiny teaspoon for stirring (if milk, honey, or sugar was needed). I would get out a teapot if I would be making one kind of tea. And tea would be served, with the accompaniment of good conversation.
Fast forward to the present and I have various long standing traditions with some friends to have them over for tea. It has become part of my way of being hospitable. It is my way of inviting people into my life in a deeper way. To have them come to my little home and sit together gathering good talks as the tea steeps. Sometimes there is food involved first, but not always. There is something special about slowing down and taking tea together. As the steam rises the conversation lingers. I love the intentional nature of the whole process.
Unless you are Alice in Wonderland, you don't stumble upon a mad tea party with a hare and a hatter. But a tea party is such an inviting situation, so it is no wonder Alice wandered to their table.