Drinking tea in the south usually means a giant plastic cup brimming with Luzianne (teeth aching sweetness optional). Despite being a Texas girl, I cannot stomach iced tea. It tastes like to dirt. However, being a girl ripe with oddities, I adore hot tea. More important, I adore tea time.
I can measure my life in tea parties. Both of my grandmothers had antique sets I was allowed to play with. In college, friends and I would sit down for tea a couple of times a month, be it in our dorm rooms or some NYC spot. One of my priorities when I first got to London was tea at Harrods. The Grand Floridian’s Garden View Tea Room serves a delightful tea that has become a family tradition, including a bridal tea the day before my wedding.
Outside the formal arena of tea parties, most of my closest friendships have been cemented over tea. I used to sit in my friend Jenn’s office for hours, sipping my cup of increasingly weak tea (refills lose their punch when you keep the same bag) and bonding with her over our shared quirks, learning from her about a different view on life. There was an entire year where I got little work done during my office hours because my then-colleague Mitzi and then-student Katie would distract me with tea and gaiety (somewhere there is a video of Mitzi breaking into a chunk of ice with a hammer . . . in my office). Both have moved on, but our friendships remain.
What is the draw? In many ways it’s the simplicity of it–a cup of warm tea in any number of flavors, the heat of drink begging one to linger instead of gulp and run. Conversation commences. It is a reminder to slow down and take a moment to do nothing more than enjoy comfort and company. There is little technology involved (although I am an ardent fan of my electric tea kettles; I could not live without them). Although fancy teas are much enjoyed (Jenn and I spent a fascinating December morning with a glass tea pot and tea blossom), Twinings or something equally as simple is just as good. It is human experience at its most simple and lovely.
When work seems particularly pointless, I joke with Mitzi that we should move to New Orleans and open a tea shoppe. It would be a simple affair: comfy chairs, scrumptious pastries, a myriad of tea flavors, good books for when you want to be alone, good company for when you don’t. Perhaps a basset hound to snooze in the sun and guard the door. It’s a nice little dream I keep in the back of my head for when a student tells me for the tenth time how unfair it is that I won’t let them make up an entire semester in two days. Who knows? Maybe someday our little joke will become a reality. Before then hopefully we can settle on a name (suggestions)?
What about you, dear Cakesters? What gives you bliss?