So. The English Tea thing.
I know, you’ve all been waiting.
But I’ll start you off with my favorite scone recipe, so if you want to cook and not read, read, read, you can get right on with it. I’ll tell you about scones next time, as they are a bit confusing if you’re not English or Australian. But here’s the recipe in preparation.
Back to tea. From the time I was a child, maybe even a baby, I’ve drunk tea! I was probably very spoiled, because I can remember as a child, my brother as well, announcing we were awake by calling to my mum:
“I’m ready for my cup of tea now!”
My own children would never have gotten away with that.
But hot tea, with milk and sugar, was just the way you woke up. Still is. Scott and I always head to the kitchen and turn on the kettle first thing in the morning.
Tea is actually how Scott and I met. Let me tell you the story.
At the University of Wales, in the lovely Welsh town of Aberystwyth,
is where “it” all began.
Anyway. It was the beginning of my second year of college and I was headed back to my dorm room, up the stairs, with a stack of very weighty law books I had just purchased.
My knight in shining plaid appeared. I wish I’d taken a picture at the time, but that would have been weird.
But I still have the plaid shirt. Here it is.
I’d met him a couple of days before and we had chatted and I knew right then I would marry this man. Sounds corny, but apparently it was true.
He was an American exchange student from the U of I and I really didn’t need to know much else.
Anyway, he saw me hulking these textbooks up the stairs and asked if he could help.
“Why, of course, you perfect piece of Creation!”
I didn’t actually say that, I said thank you in a very English manner and he brought them all the way up to the top floor into my room and put them on my desk.
At which point I immediately launched into English mode.
“Would you like a cup of tea?”
It wasn’t as strange as it sounds to most Americans. All British college students drink tea on the hour, every hour, and at every moment of transition in between.
You come back from class:
“Let’s have a cup of tea.”
You get ready to go to class:
“Need a quick cuppa..”
It turns 10am:
Tea solves most problems, and tea with lots of milk and sugar is apparently great for “shock” although I’ve never quite figured out what this means. It certainly solves low blood glucose, let’s put it that way…
If you visited a friends room in college at any time of the day or night, tea would always be offered. If they weren’t there, they probably wouldn’t have cared if you popped the kettle on anyway.
Biscuits, (or “cookies” for the anti-Redcoat gang) are usually involved and you dipped these in the tea while discussing the deep things of life. There’s a knack to “dunking” it long enough so that it becomes delightfully melty and soft and yet doesn’t collapse into one’s tea, which is a big disaster.
You can find the best ever biscuit, called a HobNob here:
Hob nob means to drink socially, which is EXACTLY what you do with tea! Clever, huh?
This way of life is just a thing we’ve always done and always will. And the best part about it is that it creates a huge unspoken social understanding of how long someone is going to hang out with you. In England, if you’re planning to stay and chat for more than one minute, then by golly, you will accept the tea.
“No, thank you.” he said.
Rats. He’s not going to stay and talk, I thought, because at that point, I wanted nothing more.
Well, no, I wanted to marry him, but felt that discussion should probably wait until after a cup of tea.
Nevertheless, three hours later, he was still sitting in the chair in my dorm room, talking away, and the whole time I’m wondering, “why on earth are you still here, you didn’t want tea…?!”
He figured it out later, the “tea thing”.
And the rest is a 26 year history….
More tea next time. There’s so much to tell!