Not everyone's cup of tea
The evolution of a beverage.
Dostoevsky said, “I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea."
My love for tea started with a strong affinity for London Fogs. This affinity grew slowly into an obsession and soon I was draining my food card to support a full-on addiction. Finally, out of desperation, having been forced to choose between specialty drinks and food, I resorted to Earl Grey Tea, the key component of London Fogs. Now, I haven’t always seen eye to eye with tea. Previous excursions into its world have involved a lot of sugar. And when I say a lot, I mean at least six spoonfuls. The amount of time spent making it outweighed the sugary result, and I generally stayed away from the stuff. So, when first attempting Earl Grey in dorms, with limited amounts of stolen caf sugar packets, it was a bit of a harrowing experience. However, gradually my taste for the drink grew and, with it, an appreciation for its role in culture. Tea is an ever-present force in our society; its social and historical contexts are undeniable and it has subtly become an influence in my life.
Tea first found its use in China. Supposedly, a Chinese emperor was walking outside one day, when a tealeaf fell in his hot water. Enticed by its aroma, the emperor tried some and, finding it delicious, quickly spread the fad. Dutch and Portuguese sailors brought the drink to Britain in the 17th century and by the 1800s, tea had quickly become a central part of British culture. It’s not just a cultural icon; tea has been the subject of historical events, like the Boston Tea Party. To my eleven-year-old self, this event sounded like a pleasant afternoon of refreshment, but it was in reality an act of revolt by the American people against the high tax placed on the drink.
For those who have a deep love for it, tea can play a very large role in one’s day-to-day life. Children run wild, unfettered by the reproaches of the rational while their mothers chat distractedly over tea. A warm mug calms you when exams are approaching and you’ve no idea how everything is going to get finished. Kids take their first steps into the realm of adulthood over sugar-loaded passion tea served in miniature cups, with miniature saucers. And let’s not forget the thirst-quenching, cooling power iced tea can have on a mid-August afternoon.
Recently, some friends and I made an expedition to The Little White House in Fort Langley to have High Tea. It involved a lot of adorable sandwiches, croissants, and deserts served on stacked platters. The mirror tabletop reflected our cake stuffed, picture-snapping faces. The glass plates featured intricate patterns of flowers, and had a designated spot on which to place the cups. There were chandeliers and an overall sense of quaintness in small details such as the porcelain elephant teapots and the gold-painted wooden chairs. We squealed endlessly about how much we wanted to stow away and live there secretly for the rest of our lives. When we regrettably returned home to face the realities of schoolwork, we were left with a feeling of contentment that only the comfort of tea can bring.
I’ll admit, a bagful of leaves stewed in boiling water does not sound entirely enticing. However, those of us who have grown to love its warmth and reassurance have a special place for it in our hearts. It is soothing and social and has the magic to cure even the most imaginary of illnesses. I would encourage those who have never experienced its influence to try it. Start off with Earl Grey, like I did and go from there. Or, grab some friends, dress fancy, speak in fake British accents and experience High Tea.
Want to go to High Tea? Check out The Little White House in Fort Langley! http://www.littlewhitehouseco.com/ 9090 Glover Road, Fort Langley, B.C. 604-888-8386