Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My Love Affair with Tea

Anyone who knows me even for just a short time will discover that I have a passion for tea and all things related to that venerable liquid. I love tea! I enjoy the smell and taste of tea. I enjoy the delicate tea sandwiches, scones and sweets that are served at tea parties. I enjoy the relationships that are strengthened while sipping a cup of tea.

How did I come to acquire this love for tea? I think it must have come from my father's side of the family. Story is that my paternal grandmother's ancestors were from England and the earliest one, John Shell, came to America and settled in Virginia. The British are, of course, famous for tea and the ceremony of tea. I prefer to think that tea runs in my veins.

In my research on the subject of tea, I uncovered this little known fact. The Dutch were actually the first European country to bring tea west from China and points east. The British, however, made it into quite the occasion. Scones are the most common accompaniment for tea. Most people think scones are another creation of the British. Actually, the Dutch can take credit for this delicious treat. The word "scone" means "beautiful bread" in Dutch.

I have fond memories while growing up of having tea on Sunday evenings. These parties were not grand, but simple fare - apples, cheese and crackers, some sort of sweet. The favorite tea of my father was Bigelow's Constant Comment. One whiff of that tea transports me back to my childhood.

When Handsome Prince and I began to have children, I wanted to continue the tradition of Sunday evening tea with our family. It's been easy! I have five girls and a husband who enjoy tea as much as I do. Most Sunday evenings find us gathered around the table, eating "Poetical Egg Salad Sandwiches," scones, and some kind of sweet or apples and cheese and crackers. Flavors of tea drunk from china tea cups in my collection include Earl Grey, English Breakfast, Ceylon, Assam, and Irish Breakfast. We all drink our tea strong with milk and sugar, the proper British way.

My girls began at a very early age drinking tea from a china cup and saucer. They know a lot about tea and all have their favorite. After our first cat died, they wanted a gray male cat to adopt just so they could name it "Earl Grey." We do have a gray cat with the name Earl Grey, only she's female.

I wouldn't be surprised if my girls carry on the tradition of Sunday evening tea when they begin to have their own children. I think it runs in their veins like it does in mine. Only they have a double dose. Mom's ancestry is British and Dad is 100% Dutch.

1 comment:

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