Cup of Brown Joy
Whilst others may fancy a tot of whisky and still others a shot of espresso, I’m in the market for a cup of tea.
Did I say cup? I mean mug, the kind that is so big it makes me look like a small child. Although I most often look like a small child as I am, as before stated, only knee high. The liquid measure of tea should be, in my eyes, not a mere ‘cup’ but possibly a flagon. I think the more ancient measuring systems lend themselves to the true pleasure of tea. Yes. Pour me a puncheon please. I’ll settle for a kilderkin.
The MP Tony Benn drank a lot of tea. He was, however, a mere sipper in comparison to me. I start the day with a pot that an otter could probably make a holt in. It’s a large brown contraption that I bought several years ago and it barely fits under the tea cosy. Once I’ve drunk that pot I feel a bit thirsty and so brew up another. The brown liquid fuels the fingers on the keyboard, powers the synapses of story. If I find I hit a bare patch on the page I reach for the kettle, snuffle around in the tea caddy for inspiration. I have had more ideas standing staring out of the window waiting for the kettle to boil than…well. Say no more. It is the soother, the comforter, the fortifier.
My tea drinking started early and I was a two sugars kind of a gal until I realised how much sugar I was drinking. My dad suggested I give up the sugar. He had already done so. ‘Give it three weeks’ he said ‘And you won’t be able to bear it with sugar in.’ He was right. Sugar wrecks the taste of tea in much the same way that it is used by people to disguise the bitter darkness of coffee. I cannot drink tea with sugar in it. It tastes, literally, like poison.
When I lived in the North my family were close by, partly because we lived there and partly because, in those days, they were all alive. The halcyon days were the ones spent in the company of my maternal grandparents where my grandma, Ellen, would have the kettle on before you alighted from the bus, or, in latter days, opened the car door. She had an array of neat porcelain mugs of a pot bellied shape and also a stash of elegant white teacups with gold trim that she bought in Tesco. I don’t think she ever served a duff cup of tea. Her tea cosy had a bobble on the top and the cups always came with saucers.
Tea must also be brewed in a pot. It’s probably snobbery but it does taste better when its had room to breathe. The idea of ‘fast’ does not apply to tea, or most other good and pleasurable and enjoyable things (oi, steady on.) Tea is an infusion, that is it requires time to seep its way into the water, to mingle and make magic. Water is a ‘fast’ drink, it comes out of the tap. If you want speed, I’d stick with that. Your average teabag can’t cope with the confines of a mug. It needs to breathe, to spread its corners east and west. And of course, there is the idea that teabags shouldn’t be allowed. I’m not that much of a tea snob. I like tasty tea and if it happens to come out of an unbleached Clipper teabag then I’m happy.
Not herbal. Oh God no. I used to work with a colleague who had the direst selection of ‘fruit teas’ ever to disgrace a chipped white mug. They ranged from blackberry and orange (bleugh) to apple and mint (blargh) through to lemon grass and mulberry (pleaughpleaughplach). They all smelled like bath salts or toothpaste and she appeared to drink them as some kind of punishment. The only ‘fruitish’ tea that I love is jasmine, glugged down after dim sum or crispy duck. Ah, jasmine.
All this blogging has made me thirsty so I’d better put the kettle on. The title of this missive is ‘Cup of Brown Joy’ taken from the musical delight that is Professor Elemental. Never was there a hymn to tea so perfectly pitched and if you haven’t caught it then you should. Which reminds me of the last time I had to replenish the caddy when, in order to brave the supermarket, I tugged on my fighting trousers. But that’s another blog, one the censors are having trouble with.
Hunt down the Professor here: Professor Elemental
Need something to read while you quaff your Earl Grey? https://www.helenslavin.com/signup/