Early in the morning, the sunrise looks so beautiful. What more can one desire for, than the chirping of the birds and the cool breeze?
Yet, there is more to the morning than these natural beauties. The tinkling cups of tea. Yes, the bed tea to refresh oneself.
Often tea and coffee are assumed as substitutes and I have no intension of denying this lovely thought. If I am asked personally, I prefer coffee to tea; the smell of the coco does magic for me. However, that is an individual choice. Others may or may not agree. The freedom to retain their favourites remains with them. Yet, when we hear about a nation having more or less a similar taste, we surely would want to know the reasons and the secrets behind such a phenomena.
It is certainly true that tea is the most popular drink in Britain — far more popular than coffee, which is more preferred in the rest of the Europe. I am sure that the British could not have, for a long time, kept themselves away from this lucrative drink. In 1610, the Dutch brought the first tea to Europe. Yet it was not until 1658, that the first advertisement for it appeared in a London newspaper. Tea is not hard to digest; the tastes and classes don’t rest in the costs. And I can support this thought, by another fact, that even a pound of the cheapest tea cost nearly a third of a skilled worker’s weekly wage. Yet, by the 1750, it had become a principal or a vital drink for all classes in the UK. Quite surprising and interesting, wouldn’t you agree?
This makes me wonder about the ‘specialness’ of this drink? Was there a charisma in its make or was it just an unreasoned fascination for a drink? Those of you who have heard of the term “caddies” would also know its use. Yet to outline my description, “caddies” were special containers, often with a lock, and carefully doled out by the teaspoon, in which the lady of the house used to keep the tea to ensure its well protection. Surely it was a treasured drink and might have been the cause of much jealousy of others. As drinking tea was flourishing, it probably must have also developed into a fashionable social ritual. Thus as the demand increased, in order to match it, supply needed to be paced as well. Thus, the rich and green tea gardens also blossomed in places like Vauxhall and Marylebone in London. These places became areas wherein the population could enjoy their meals with their adored drink. One can simply imagine the pleasure and the comfort in sipping some refreshing tea with cakes, muffins, bread and the like.
Another idea that arises here is the concept of tea parties, which soon became very popular. Such parties were organized at homes and in the evening family and friends would join together for this lovely experience. It is not hard to imagine the teatime breaks in cricket matches and other such occasions. It soon became a custom in the restaurants and various teashops as well. Certain specific kinds of tea became famous in different parts of the country. For example, high tea is a more substantial evening meal, popular in northern England and Scotland. I can well imagine the British ladies wearing their traditional dresses and serving hot tea in the cups. Surely a very tempting sight!
Another point that needs to be considered is the importance assigned to the use of freshly boiled water which is poured onto leaves and left to brew for a few minutes. Though most prefer tea with milk, yet it should be strong, and sugar can be taken according to the taste. China teapots can attract any eye with their unique design and magnetic posture. The traditional serving of tea is done in the same.
The refreshing fragrance of tea has completely captured my thoughts and imagination. Even the reader, at this instance, might feel like entering into his/her kitchen and prepare a cup or two of the same for himself/herself.
Not a bad idea indeed.