As a little girl, there was something magical to me about a tea party, even the ones that were around a little children’s table lined with teddy bears and favorite dollies. I wouldn’t say that I was ever a “girly girl”—I migrated more toward dirt and trees than sugar and spice and everything nice. But the exception for me, my journey into the world of ribbon and bows, was the tea party.
Even now, when I daydream I find myself drawn to two scenes: one of a big old Southern plantation with women sitting on its porch, fanning themselves while drinking glasses of iced sweet tea, and the other of a 1920’s English secret garden at low tea. High tea is a little too indulgent for me to imagine, but I love the vision of low tea, with beautiful scones and tea and sitting in the garden while the evening breeze blows away the cares of the day.
My house is lined with teapots that I have picked up over time. I can spot them anywhere in a store; they seem to just call out to me. Although I have yet to find a silver tea set, it is on my list of “must-haves.” For now, I feel particularly blessed when I find them in white or yellow, but they all call to me. So do teashops and tea in general. I love the loose teas the best, and I adore teashops that allow me to blend my own.
I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about why I love tea, teapots or low tea the way that I do. I suspect it is the thought of being “distinguished,” since it seems to me that those partaking in tea are distinguished. Or maybe I view it as an activity that only those who indulge in “the sharing of time” would bother with. Or maybe it is the endless romantic in me. I love sitting at the best part of the day, waiting for the sun to drop over the horizon and saying goodbye to the workday. I love saluting the day by stopping to give respect, by dedicating time to look the day in the face and deal with it, keeping it contained in the 24 hours that it belongs in. It’s important to stop long enough to breathe it all in, then breathe it back out again and actually deal with it.
In my mind’s eye, scenes involving old homes with big porches always have a pot of hot tea or a pitcher of iced sweet tea, inviting me to sit and share the cares of the world or the day. And don’t forget the scones dripping with melted butter and jam.
More of us should take a lesson from our ancestors who knew that the key ingredient to longevity was taking time at the end of the day to not only to nourish the body with tea, but to also to nourish the soul. I cannot help but wonder if they were more present than I find myself sometimes. Or maybe they were just more grateful, as they took the time to express their gratitude for all that came to them during the day…all the lessons learned, people met, life loved, and things survived.
I think it is time to blow some dust off some of these teapots and put them to use. Time to find a corner of my world where I can sit with those I love and be present, then watch the sun as it dances on the horizon saying its goodbyes to the day as I do the same. I am convinced that there would be more things in my day that I would be grateful for if I would just take the time to think about them before they all blended together. So, I am planning to take a lesson from the past yet again and plan tea for at least two.