Saturday, September 19, 2015

Everything stops for...

Tea. Let's start with this Tea music which illustrates perfectly how we Brits look at our tea-time!

Born and raised in England, I grew up feeling that tea was just part of the fabric of society. When anyone visits, even if it's an official such as a police officer, you offer a cup of tea. If the dishwasher repairman is working in your kitchen, you offer a cup of tea. Part of First Aid training treatment for shock is a cup of strong, sweet tea. When someone has died, the first thing done is usually to put the kettle on for tea.

This ritual of making a drink has become a vehicle of comfort, a sustenance, a way to impart sympathy in those moments where words desert us. The panacea for every situation is ... a cup of tea.

Even in the workplace, tea serves a function. We had a 'tea lady' at work who would bring round tea and biscuits (cookies) for everyone in the afternoon. Her visit to our office was heralded by the sound of the tea trolley coming down the corridor, the rattle of cups and spoons. You could almost feel the collective sigh of relief from everyone as they realized it was 'that' time - time for a break. 

Even if we didn't actually stop working for very long it was a welcome interruption in our day, a time to draw breath, a few minutes of regrouping that helped recharge us to carry on. 

The ceremonial aspects of having tea with others, even in an informal setting, are something I have always found soothing. A large tea-pot, beautiful china tea-cups (or plain stoneware mugs), milk (not cream) and a fragrant tea blend like Jasmine - all the ingredients for a refreshing half-hour, preferably with friends. Someone has to be "mother," that is, the person who pours the tea out. The cups of tea are passed round and everyone relaxes.

There is no need for forced conversation. Sipping tea together in quiet reflection is as companionable as being in lively conversation.

Do you take a break in your day? What is your ritual?

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