“Is it time for tea?” Or better yet, “Isn’t it time for tea?” Sadly, in the United States neither of these phrases seems to be predominate in our culture.
As the holidays recede, there is a wide variety of savoury tastes and smells that almost every household will forego until next Autumn, when the holiday season begins again. Once again, we will eagerly look forward to those aromas and sensory delights. It’s interesting that many of our favourite food and beverage choices are experienced only at certain times of the year. Families from all cultures, with all kinds of traditions, will go ‘all out’ for the holidays, and yes, also for special occasions ranging from birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, engagements, births, and so on; but how often do these celebrations involve tea?
Just about anywhere else in the world – these occasions will most certainly include and involve tea!
I am rather amazed to discover that in most American homes you will find teaware that ranges from elaborate and expensive to simple and functional – but hardly anyone seems to put either to use. A fine set of china is never complete without a teapot and its matching teacups and saucers – so why do they rarely come out of the china cabinet? Just as in most traditions – they need to be practiced frequently – this is what makes them become a “tradition.”
I remember a incident over a decade ago when my son was barely twelve years old. I’d received some powdered chai samples during the month of September and was preparing several samples to taste. Upon entering the kitchen and smelling the deliciously flavoured and spiced teas, he asked me, “Are we were getting ready for Christmas already?” Even at his age – considering I was rather new to sampling teas from all over the world back then – he was already associating the smells of Marsala Chai with Christmas. Developing a family tradition is apparently not that difficult.
As I participate in many tea tasting events with groups that vary from teens to seniors, this past holiday season I did something I have not done before. I purchased the seasonal teas from grocery store shelves; steeped them, served them – and surprised many folks by the variety out there, just waiting to become a ‘family tradition.’
Something magical happens when you serve your family and guests from the “good dishes.” Mom will surely get ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ from family members when the good plates come out. I can promise you that! And of course, company feels special indeed when served with the fine china that has been locked away for decades, or, often for generations.
I keep asking people, “What are you waiting for? Why have you been collecting these things if you do not intend to use them?” I have seen walls lined with massive teapot collections and when I ask if the teapots have ever been used, the answer is usually, “No.”
Bring on and celebrate the old family traditions – and do not be afraid to create new ones!
Life is too short not to enjoy the good dishes and much too short not to enjoy good tea, even if that tea is purchased off the grocery store shelves. I’ve noticed the contents of those shelves changing and evolving greatly over the last twelve years. This is good news for the world of tea.
As a Canadian girl growing up with tea, some of my fondest memories are of the times when the good teacups and saucers came out. My mother always washed them by hand after the company left, and my job as the oldest daughter, was to dry them, carefully. These were cups and saucers my mother collected as a young woman in the late nineteen forties and early nineteen fifties and kept them in her “hope chest” until she got married, many of which came from Japan. The collection continued to grow after she got married.
Today, all those cups and saucers proudly belong to me. She gave them all to her first-married daughter, following tradition. You can conclude that my own daughter grew up drinking tea out of many fine vintage china teacups.
As for families, anything that brings people together in celebration deserves to become a ‘family tradition’ and hearing “Isn’t it time for tea?” will delightfully be music to your ears.