Earl Grey, hot
A rambling by Beth Derochea,
August 1999

I like tea. No, let's be honest. I love tea.

I love Earl Grey tea, hot with sugar and milk, steaming in the morning. The aroma of bergamot rises from the liquid, creating a relaxing reaction to the drink. Part of it is aromatherapy, part is simply a soothing habit, and some is an indefinable historical quality of tea. I love cinnamon tea when I have a sore throat, chamomile when I have a cold, and plain Lipton at almost any time.

When I sit at my desk in the morning, sipping my morning tea, part of me can pretend to be a Victorian lady of leisure, reading letters from friends and planning whether to walk before sewing or after luncheon. Granted, my tea is in a disposable cup, my letters are e-mail, and my walk is at lunch hour or not at all, but the fantasy is a gentle imagining. In the evening, I like to have tea after dinner or when just hanging around with friends. The ritual of making tea -- heating the water, choosing tea bag or loose tea, and whether to use a mug or a teacup -- all are part of the soothing effect of drinking tea.

I also love treating myself to a full High Tea. High Tea was popularized by the British Victorians, and is a meal, considered light, in the afternoon, to tide one over for dinner. It consists of three courses as well as tea to drink: tea sandwiches, such as watercress or cucumber, scones (a.k.a. tea biscuits) served warm with clotted cream and jam, and sweets, usually little cakes and chocolates. In New York, restaurants and hotels have high tea served daily, some at any time of day or night. A favorite mental health day is to go to a museum by myself and wander through whatever exhibits are most enjoyable, then take myself to tea! Having waiters treat you like gold is part of the experience.

Tea is one of those simple pleasures that can be extremely refreshing. Warming in the hands on cool autumn mornings, thawing me out after playing in winter snows, iced tea refreshing in summertime; tea is an experience to be savored.

[ by Beth Derochea ]