Sunday, 6 May 2012

It's Tea Time

Tea is a universal drink.  There are numerous types of tea grown all over the world and lots of web sites offering its history, varieties etc.  A cup of tea can revive our spirits and can provide comfort when we feel down.  In my family it was the usual beverage offered to any visitor.  I can still see my Mother drinking her tea in her beloved sun porch.

When I worked in the UK there was a lot more fuss involved for a ‘cuppa’ than here in Canada.  I remember dragging my poor husband to Windsor for a high tea * check out .  The people we stayed with were also very formal when it was tea time.  It was nice.  Now, when I visit my neighbour, who is in her late seventy’s, she boils water in the kettle, drops a tea bag into separate cups. We each determine the strength and fix it the way we like, either black, with milk or lemon and sugar if   desired.  Even fast food chains offer the option of a quick cup of brewed tea.    

Until I was five years old, my parents owned a diner called ‘Joe’s Lunch’.  For anyone who has been part of a restaurant family the commonality is that there are always people around.  My aunt, grandmother, friends, worked hard to try and make the business a success.  Even though I was young I remember a particular waitress who was elderly.  Her name was Laura.  She was a fortune teller.  She was a skilled interpreter and predictor of things to come by means of reading tea leaves.  We always served loose tea.

The person who had a question drank their tea leaving a teaspoonful of liquid.  They were asked by Laura to swirl this around three times counter clockwise while thinking of an issue that needed a resolution.  Then they were asked to invert the cup onto the saucer and leave it for a few moments.  At that point the interpretation began.  Laura would take the cup into both of her hands never touching the handle.  It represented the person who had drunk the tea and had a question that needed answering. Leaves that were close to the brim related to events soon to approach.  Those that were in the bottom of the cup meant bad luck was coming.  Those tea leaves close to the handle concerned matters at home, scattered leaves meant financial prospects and so on.  She made a few bucks from her readings.

Years later my husband and I were asked to travel with a Turkish Samovar and deliver it in the UK.  In those days what was known as a ‘Magic Bus’ went from Athens, Greece to London, England in seventy two hours.  Thinking back on it now at my age it was pretty crazy.  If I had a few drinks in me, oh the stories I could tell.  Anyway, we had never seen a Samovar before and I have not seen one since.   The contraption seemed to come apart in several places and every time the drivers unpacked the trunk of the bus they threw it around dismantling it piece by piece.  It was not packed properly.  In those days there was no such thing as bubble wrap.  By the time we got to London we were carrying the copper pieces one by one.  Eventually we saw how they fit together to make a decent cup of tea.  For more information have a look online for a more detailed description of its use.

Herbal teas are known as Tisanes and usually are used for medicinal purposes. 

A fellow from the UK named Richard Blechynden discovered ice tea quite by accident.  He was at the World’s Fair in St. Louis in 1904 trying to sell cups of hot tea.  Unfortunately it was during a heat wave.  Suffering from extreme anxiety he added ice cubes.  He started to sell cups of tea like hotcakes. 

Because the weather is now warmer here are a couple of recipes using iced tea:

Russian Roulette
Put ice cubes into a tall glass.
Add a double shot of vodka
A shot of lime juice
Top it up with ice tea

Tea Fizz
1 pint of lemonade
1 cup of lime juice
1 pint of ice tea
Stir with ice

Both drinks are refreshing on a hot day.  As some say,   Coffee is not my cup of tea.” 

Tea is liquid wisdom.  ~Anonymous

The picture of a Turkish Samovar is from


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Don't know many 'tea leaves' interpreters around here! I love tea - very interesting post.