Cup of Tea
Firstly, the mug. Choice of mug is crucial in determining the level of enjoyment when it comes to the tea drinking. Everyone has a preferred mug. Sometimes, the mug may vary according to the type of tea selected and indeed, the time of day it is brewed. Akin to choice of partners, some people have a mug ‘type’ from which they choose to refresh themselves. My mum, for example, will only drink tea from medium sized, bone china mugs that are ‘MADE. IN. ENGLAND’.
Others stumble across their ‘one and only’ mug, thereafter embraced and cherished as THE mug. Beware that you do not inadvertently reach for this special vessel of tea leaves amongst the chipped and cheerful collection in the cupboard. Narrowed eyes and hushed tuts will follow aplenty and can, on occasion, cause silent rifts between the most pleasant of friendships.
Sometimes, mugs are not appropriate. Sometimes, it is preferable to drink from cups and saucers. More refined. More special. More… The Ritz. Fingers and hands feel decidedly superior clutching a delicately curved handle. Without knowing it, you’re even sitting up straighter. For those who suffer from chronic back pain, then, it is advisable to sip jasmine tea from expensive, hand painted tea cups with floral saucers and matching tea pots. Three times daily.
Tea is also a cure for depression and sadness and anger and loss and boredom and anything not good and happy that needs to be right for a small, short, tea drinking time.
Method. There’s method in the tea making madness.
Tea bag always goes in first. Some people add milk then water then stir. Others add water, remove tea bag, add milk. Some brew. Some squeeze. Some even leave the tea bag floating like a buoy in the tea sea. Each to his own. Everyone is right.
The final, crucial decision rests with timing. Regular, tentative caresses against the warmed curve of china hint at the ideal drinking temperature. Hot? Warm? Lukewarm? Who is Luke anyway? My tea is best served marionwarm. Click-click-click. Three sweeteners please.
A distracted hand sweeps the mug from its coaster, one eye concentrated on the task at hand (television, over-sized newspaper, loquacious friend), the other mindlessly avoiding tea overflow with an upwards slight of hand before settling the rim on patient lower lips. Pursed and nervous, lips whistle an airy tune which crinkles and cools the liquid gold until it passes, cautiously at first, past razor rock teeth into the dark cavern behind. Eager taste buds twinkle then drown a hundred times. A satisfying gulp sends the milky cascade on its downward flume, warming from the inside out. Warm heart, wet smile.
The only trace that remains: a rusty halo traced on a red square which reads “Keep Calm and Carry On”.