A Very British Institution

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

 Flicking through the channels on a Sunday afternoon, I came across Victoria Wood's Nice Cup of Tea. Probably not the most exciting of programme titles, but being a tea lover it was the sort of background noise, to an afternoon of report writing, I was looking for.
I'd planned to post some of my autumn outfits of late, and how I've changed my home over for the colder months, however it has got rather warm of late, so it seemed a bit silly. So instead, I decided to talk about tea. Yep, my love of tea.
If you've followed my blog for, well less than a day really, I'm sure you will have picked up I love tea. What you might not realise is that I used to hate tea. Seriously! When I was really young my mum reliably informs me I would drink it quite happily, but as I hit around 12-13 years old, I remember I didn't like tea. I drank coffee quite happily but just couldn't get on with tea. This may have been because coffee was generally seen a much cooler. Understandably, I wasn't really allowed coffee very often, but by the time I was 16, I lived on the stuff. It wasn't even good coffee - it was instant stuff, milk two, sugars please.
I can't fully remember my conversion to tea. I do know it came about when I decided I needed to detox from coffee, and it was that I either learnt to like tea, or I drank hot chocolate all the time (not good for my waistline.) To be honest, it literally took one or two cups before I realised that this tea stuff was actually ok! I now realise tea still has caffeine in, like coffee, but I never feel quite as rubbish if I don't drink tea for a day as I did when I stopped drinking coffee.
Now, I love it. I love to try different blends (my favourite happens to be Chatsworth Houses own blend, but they don't sell it in the shop, only the restaurant, with is rather annoying) and I love an Assam, an Earl Grey and a Breakfast. If there was a way to drink loose leaf tea, on a quick daily basis, I would. Sadly there's not, and I resort to a tea bag, but that's ok. It means that when I get the chance to brew up a proper pot and pour it through a strainer it's all the more special. Finished off with a few crust-less sandwiches and a clotted cream scone there really is nothing better. Yes it's a bit indulgent, yes it's a bit fattening, but who cares when it's a treat.
Afternoon tea is in my jeans. My ancestors worked in some of the 'big houses' of the local gentry and that ethos has traversed down through the years. My Great Grandma always made my Mum afternoon tea with cucumber sandwiches and tea in pot, all passed down from her family. One of our family recipes is a wartime sandwich filler, colloquially known as 'mock crab' which has never seen a crab and taste as much like fish as an egg (which is actually one of the main ingredients.) A mock crab sandwich and a pot of tea, now stir up so may nostalgic memories for, so deep down I guess I always did like tea, I just dabbled with coffee for a while.
I think the recent resurgence for a trend in afternoon tea can only be a good thing. Tea for me is warm, its comforting, its restorative, and the rumour is, it won us the war. I'm not sure how true that is, but the fact that it, along with food and fuel was rationed, says how special it was. Tea brings people together, it makes us feel warm inside and cheers us up. Got something to tell a friend - invite 'em round for a cuppa. Had a nasty shock - make 'em a cup of sweet tea. Feeling upset - 'I'll make you a nice cup of tea'. It has so many qualities you never really think of. Its friendly, it's social and its ours. (well via China, and British Empire India, but we don' talk about that, because that just wouldn't be British would it!)


  1. I used to hate tea as well, would only drink some mint tea when I was ill and that was even with some honey in it. Now though, I drink at least one cup of tea EVERY day and get all grumpy when I don't get that moment of tea bliss. It truly is a wonderful thing! :)


  2. I know it's all a bit quaint and old fashioned, but I'm a total sucker for a bit of afternoon tea. What's not to like about fairy cakes and cucumber sandwiches 'eh? :-)

    Great post btw:-)

    Neens x

  3. I agree that coffee is seen as the cooler of the two. But I would take tea anyday - can only drink coffee if it's the latte stuff from a coffee shop with a syrup through it!


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