Last time we were in Nashville it was December. I had spent a long day out and arrived at a restaurant for dinner with a table full of my closest friends. As I unwrapped my scarf and coat, shedding layers like an onion, I turned to the waiter and said "would you please bring me a cup of tea?"
What could be better? A warm cozy restaurant, a dozen lovely friends to catch up with, the promise of tasty food and a good goss, all started with a strong cuppa to settle in?
The waiter looked at me, puzzled, "Tea? What kind of tea were you..." he trailed off, unsure.
"Oh, any good black tea - "Lady Grey is my favorite, but Earl Grey, even English Breakfast would be fine."
He set off, as if I had asked him to fetch me an oompaloompa.
He straggled back with one tired sachet of Orange Pekoe, and a cup of tepid water. "I found this in the back, will it work?"
Listen hear, dear people, tea can change your life!
It can be as fancy or as casual as you like, with caffeine or not, but the ritual of tea time is something worth building into your routine.
Australians have morning tea time and afternoon tea time, but you can drink tea all day long. The point is to stop, sit, and savor a ritual for at least five minutes. Tea time is the pause button built into our busy lives.
I see one main issue keeping Americans out of the tea market, and it is the electric tea kettle. Nearly every Australian kitchen will have an electric kettle on the counter top, ready to go at a moment's notice. You hear your neighbor walking up to your door? You pop the kettle on. You hear a friend's car door slam as they bring your kids home from school for you, you pop the kettle on. You have a tradesman in your house fixing something, you offer him a cuppa. Tea is the first step in hospitality.
Tea is the indicator of how long someone should stay when they drop in at your house. "I've just put the kettle on, would you like a cuppa?" means "set your things down, let's sit and chat for a bit."
Tea is the best way to comfort a hurting friend. Many a troubled time has been talked through over a nice, sweet cup of tea.
There is a whole language surrounding how a person takes his or her tea. "White with one" means milk and one sugar...you get the idea.
It may sound like an exaggeration, but there is very little in life that cannot be at least improved by a cup of tea. Personally, I drink herbal tea in the morning, and sweet milky black tea in the afternoon. Chai Lattes are reserved for when I'm out with friends, or on days where I really need comfort in a cup.
On a day like today, cold, rainy, with autumn colour showing, a thermos of tea is the best way to get me through ballet practice where the parents have to wait outdoors, under cover.
How about you? Do you drink tea?