Tea. Is any other drink so adept at being acceptable in all walks of life, at any time of day and in so many parts of the world? I'd venture to speculate that tea was the first hot drink ever made by man (or some form of tisane made from leaves, fruit or flowers and hot water). Most houses I know have some form of tea worship paraphernalia. This is my everyday form. A kettle, and several pieces of mismatched crockery, depending on my mood. I do love a cup of tea, especially taken in the company of friends.
The most basic method relies on me dunking the teabag straight into a mug, so bypassing the teapot altogether. We all have our most sluttish...and most stylish way of serving tea. The smartest tea pot I have is an inherited silver one, which I use just for the hell of it, when the fancy takes me.
But receptacles for tea can be very basic indeed. Here are some little clay cups, sometimes still used by tea sellers at railway stations in India. They are the best of throwaway cups, much more ecologically friendly than paper or plastic, and far more elegant.
I'm sure I have read somewhere (to my horror) that sales of tea in the UK are declining, and have been for a while. Coffee, that altogether more sophisticated beverage is in the ascendancy, and soon we poor Brits will have totally turned away from our so called national drink. I don't believe a word of it. Have you seen
the tea section in most supermarkets recently?
Besides, a lot of our literature depends on it.
How would the dormouse have fared if the Mad Hatter had dipped it into a coffee pot, and then presumably depressed the plunger? Get rid of tea and you immediately lose one of our finest mealtimes. Rupert Brooke knew that in 1912. Honey for tea, tea and biscuits, tea and sympathy...You can bet your life that in the background of all the Streatfields, Nesbits, Blytons and Cromptons, long suffering parents or guardians were busy drinking a reviving cup, while their offspring got into ever more alarming scrapes.
I suppose all this is why I'm so offended that the words tea party have recently been usurped. A small part of me rages when those most agreeable words are put together to describe political values that are far from my own. To begin with I hoped that the label wouldn't stick, but with the Republicans in the US beginning the long
I dreamed that Noah forced his dog to do a test run on a prototype ark.Gouache 12.5cm x 18cm. Click to enlarge.
A postcard to Kim Murton
which I must get round to sending.Pen and ink with watercolour. 15cm x 21cm. Click to enlarge.