I have many loves in my life. I would never want to order them. But very high up on the list would be tea.
It is a standing joke in my family that I cannot function before my first cuppa of the day. And I have to say that first sip is one of my main pleasures in life.
I look forward to tea in probably the same way some people look forward to an alcoholic beverage. If I ever see posts on Facebook announcing wine o’clock I immediately think of a cup of steaming tea.
It is probably down to my upbringing. Every meal in our house was accompanied by a pot of tea. A silver coloured tea pot sat on a wicker mat in the middle of the table along with a milk jug and cups and saucers for all. When numbers became elevated, say at Christmas or birthdays, we would break out the All Nations tea pot, a larger pottery vessel that used at least three tea bags.
My mother still has both. And uses the silver one every morning at breakfast, even on her own.
And there is no situation that cannot be improved by tea. Received bad news? Have a cuppa. Feeling a bit under the weather, I prescribe tea. Feeling too hot, or too cold? Char is the answer. Many foods only work with a cuppa; buttered toast, many sorts of biscuit, chocolate cake, fish and chips, I could go on.
I graduated from a cup and saucer at meal times to mugs at any time at university. I think my mother still views a mug brewed cup of char with an element of suspicion. But the economies of university house sharing did not extend to protracted tea rituals involving pots and saucers. The washing up, which was only done about weekly anyway, would have been too great. I drank tea in enormous quantities. Probably 10 plus mugs a day. It was the height of my tea drinking career.
I now prefer a mug brewed cuppa to any other. I have perfected my brew and receive many compliments on my tea from all sorts of people from friends to workmen. I can’t make coffee for toffee (I’m a poet and I didn’t know it). It is probably to do with scalding the coffee grounds or some such nonsense and as I don’t drink it it is hard for me to perfect my technique. I only stock own brand instant coffee, a premium version admittedly but nothing more adventurous. I don’t have fruit teas, or smelly teas (Earl Grey etc) as I find them frankly hideous. It’s builders all the way for me.
Therefore it is best chez moi to drink tea… Because I am a tea master. Years of practise. It goes something like this. Freshly boiled water, standard Yorkshire tea bags (I don’t hold with all this hard water tea bag guff, although hard water, whilst wrecking one’s kettle, does make much better tea) quick swish and squeeze, semi skimmed milk until the tea is a red colour (a spot more if my mother is the recipient). And, voila, perfection. I will use full fat milk at a push but skimmed makes the worst tea known to man. And anyway is an insult to cows.
My evening, just before bed, ritual is exactly the same but I switch to PG Tips decaf. My day is not over before that mug of tea. However late it is.
I take both sorts of tea bag on holiday wherever I go. Currently the sandwich bag marked ‘chicken thighs’ has the caffeinated tea bags in. Don’t ask.
Still tea abroad can be a hit and miss affair. Here for instance the ‘hot water’ at breakfast is merely luke warm. I need my tea boiling hot. I was always accused of having an asbestos mouth at uni and it hasn’t changed as I have got older.
Luckily there is a kettle in the room and we have managed to squeeze a pint of milk into the mini bar by removing a bottle of beer and a Twix bar. Even so the only mugs provided are those that fit in a Nesspresso machine and thus tiny. So I have to make two mugs every time I brew up. Just to make it worthwhile.
Hence my holiday nickname ‘Mummy Two Cups’.