Mudcat Café message #2515582 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #116927   Message #2515582
Posted By: Lizzie Cornish 1
15-Dec-08 - 05:54 AM
Thread Name: BS: Tea Question
Subject: RE: BS: Tea Question
Always have this playing in the background, of course...

Tea was a 'ceremony' in our house...

As a small child I was 'taught' the proper way to make tea, by Dad.

Our day always started with a cup of tea and two biscuits, always, brought up by Dad, on a tray, which he'd then bring in to our bedrooms, where he'd place the cup and saucer on our bedside table with the biscuits beside it. This was always before breakfast..

One day he called me down into the kitchen.."Come on then, Liz, it's your turn to make tea this morning. I stared at the various things in front of me, and made a bit of a muddle of it all, splishing and splashing things around, tea leaves all over the place..but eventually, I got the hang of it, with Dad's gentle guidance.

You boil the kettle. Once it's boiled you carefully pour a little water into the teapot, put on its lid and swish the water round, carefully, (finger over the spout, so no water splashes out at you) ensuring the pot's warmed all the way through. Empty that water out, then put in the tea, a teaspoon full for every cup you're making. Re-boil the kettle and pour it into the tea pot. Before you put the lid on, you stir 'mash' the tea leaves around, to ensure they all get a good turn at letting their flavour out, let it stand for just the right amount of time.

Learning this part was the tricky bit. Too little time and the tea's too weak, too long and it's stewed. Around five minutes normally does it. You learn to tell by the colour of the tea as it comes out of the teapot, a rich golden brown, but not too dark.

Whilst the tea's brewing, you get the cups and saucers ready, and your pour the milk in, making sure, the tea brew, you learn to know exactly the right amount to add. Again, that takes time to learn. Then you get the tea strainer out, and pour the tea into the cups, placing the tea strainer back on its stand afterwards, so it doesn't drip all over the place. Add sugar at this stage, if it's required..then serve.

When I'd finally cracked it, it was simple, and you did it, like all things, without thinking about it.

This was in the days before tea bags, and even when they'd been invented, Dad refused to use them. Always 'real' tea, never 'the brushings off the floor' as he called tea bags. lol

And then, of course (big smile) you had to learn how to empty the teapot too. This was done always in the sink, as he believed that the tea leaves helped to break down many yukky things that found their way into the sink drain at times. You turned the teapot upside down in one, swift movement, right over the drain itself, causing the minimum amount of bother with leaves going all over the place..then you gently swished out the pot and voila, all finished.

It has be said, that for all Dad's fussiness, when it came to making tea, no-one could make it as he did, apart from his children, and both Leigh and I were always pretty ace at it, getting comments from many people about what a great cup of tea they'd just had.

Nowadays, it's all so different. Grab the bag, slosh it in, throw on the water, splash in the milk..remove the bag, dump it anywhere, usually on top of all the other 'dead tea bag' bags accumulating by the sink..and slurp the tea from any old mug that's handy, as fast as possible, without really tasting the drink, or having time to sit back and really enjoy it.

It's a little bit like so many other things in life that we've lost, those 'simple' pleasures...replaced by speed, as we live our busy lives without time to sit and stare, sit and share.

Hell, it was tea that won the war, for the British, you know! :0) If Hitler had got hold of our tea supplies, Churchill would no doubt have surrendered there and then! ;0)

It was a way of life, a sharing of something that was considered a bit 'special' I guess...and nope, my father never drank from a mug, always from a cup and saucer. He wasn't a snobby man, not by any means whatsoever, but I think, having lived through a war that nearly destroyed him, there were certain things in his life that brought him comfort, and making tea, in the age old way, as part of a convivial sharing, was something he always loved.

Tea gets you through most things..

Just last week we had a lady in our shop who fell over, she went hurtling backwards, and landed on her back, flailing around like a fish out of water, for a few seconds. She was an elderly lady, and was more distraught at feeling everyone was watching her, rather than worrying if she'd damaged herself. She struggled to get up, insisted on doing so, not wanting an ambulance to be called. We got her on to a chair and in no time at all she had a warm cup of tea finding it's way down inside her, and reaching those parts that needed calming. She felt safe again, with a cup of tea in her hands. (And yes, she was just fine afterwards, we checked on her later, when she'd got home.)

And I can still recall the beauty of those words, right after I'd had my first child..."Would you like a cup of tea now, m'dear"...and suddenly, all the worry and strain of the previous few hours disappeared, as that steaming cup of tea was placed on the table beside me, and I was back to 'normality', my new baby on one side of me, and a cup of tea on the other..(and nope, for all you Health & Safety folk out there, I didn't drink it over my baby) :0)

And...just yesterday morning, I was standing in Benjamin Franklin's house, in Craven Street, London, just around the corner from Charing Cross Station, hearing how tea caused such a major problem all those centuries ago...

There you go, Dan...from your work surface, to Benjamin Franklin, in just one message! :0)

I hope Linda forgave you, by the way...LOL