The tea bag? Mmmmmm…… what do we think of the tea bag? Yes it has made a cup of tea far more easy and quick to make, but deep down in these beautiful bodies of ours, is that what we really want? For some of us, all we’ve known is the tea bag.
Now back in the day, whenever that was…. (all I know is that it was long time ago when I was younger, thinner and firmer, but I’m afraid, not much shorter) there would be a journey in my Dad’s 1966 Red VW Beetle, sitting in the back sliding around on the black plastic shiny seats (no seat belts in those days) to one of my Dad’s Auntie’s house.
There was nothing but a block of LEGO in my hand if I was lucky (no iPads or Gameboys then), and you couldn’t exactly play with phones, which of course were always in the hallway on a table with the big thick Yellow Pages. And if you did play with the phone, you’d mistakenly go through to the operator (yep remember them)….
Once we were welcomed in, past the coat, hat and umbrella stand (always an all-in-one piece of furniture) it was straight into the front room, the ‘best room’ always kept in pristine condition. Make no mistake, I’m talking about the ‘best room’ NOT the living room, and did anybody ever see the kitchen…..I don’t think so!!
So once we sat down, we waited in silence with the gentle sound of the tea being made at the back of the house in the no-go zone of the kitchen. You had no choice but to look around the room at the pictures on the wall, old photos and dark wood furniture that looked like it weighed as heavy as my Dad’s VW Beetle parked outside.
Of course, ‘back in the day’ it was always easy to find a car parking space outside your own home, not like today). Mum and Dad would chat but very quietly, and then the rattling began as the tea trolley made its way up the hallway into the ‘best room’ and we all sat up. It always seemed like a miraculous trick to me, one that not even David Copperfield could pull off, that we would call in unannounced and yet there would be this amazing spread of food! On the trolley were Salmon sandwiches in brown bread with the crusts cut off, all cut neatly, chocolate biscuits and small pastry tarts with icing and a cherry on top…yep you read right….a cherry on top! All placed on a three….that’s right, NOT one, NOT two, but a three tier plate stand, accompanied by smaller plates. My mind was blown away.
Now for the tea pot, cups and saucers and the tea strainer…..remember them? I watched in amazement as the teapot cosy hugs around the pot, keeping it warm. Then the teapot is lifted with one hand whilst the index finger of the other hand stretches out like Moses Staff when he parted the red sea and placed on top of the lid of the tea pot.
Then the sound of a gentle waterfall on an island of paradise as the tea pours in to the bone china cup that’s placed perfectly on the saucer. Now the beauty with this method, as well as the tea tasting far better in a bone china cup than a thick mug (……..yes…. it does!), you can see that the cup is bright white all the way to the bottom. Today, the tea from a tea-bag is already been made in the kitchen without you witnessing the process, so you will always have one question on your mind, as the answer is slowly revealed to you with each sip of the tea you take…….’How stained is the mug?’ Then as you reach the bottom, you wished you never had a cup of tea there after all. In fact I was once offered some lemonade and was given it in a thick mug….and it had chips taken out of it with a dark brown hair line crack…but that’s a story for another blog (yes I’m still scarred from it).
I don’t take sugar, but in this house I wished I did. It wasn’t in a sealed container that had hard bits of brown sugar mixed in the white from the wet tea spoon from the last cup of tea made…..or the one before that. Oh no! And it wasn’t in the sugar bag that I know some sneaky people do in the kitchen with their back to you as they stretch their neck around asking you if you want sugar…. yes, you know the ones!
The sugar in this house was in a bone china bowl and wait for it…….they were sugar cubes! They looked like sweets, all bright white and piled on top of one another, the whole scene looked as nice as any Jaguar E-type I have ever laid my eyes on.
Then sadly before you know it the afternoon tea experience is over
You thank them for their generous hospitality, walk to the front door and put your coats on, taking them from the ‘coat, hat and umbrella’ stand, not the banister newel post at the bottom of the stairs, which has now taken over the job. As we’re about to leave, I’m given 10p to buy some sweets in the shop or a lucky bag (Yep remember them).
So I’d like to finish with this……. for the older generation still carrying on with the real afternoon tea for your visitors. If you wonder ‘Was it worth the bother?’ as you clean up once we’ve gone, putting everything away, well…..from my heart, I SALUTE YOU!
And I thank you for giving me such a special memory that will stay with me forever. For those who sling a tea bag in a thick builders mug (even worse if it’s stained and chipped), the least you can do is put it in a bone chine cup even if you don’t use a saucer! Come on, put some pride back into the making of tea!!
As ever on the Easy Blend, I thought I’d let you know what I’m listening to. Today it’s Thompson Twins – Hold me now.
You can find out more about my book ‘Farrago: Ten Tall Tales’ and buy it here…. (click on the cover)
Until the next Easy Blend blog………..
Stay warm and fuzzy……..