A British classic

26 Apr

Lucy Vauclair

Fancy a cuppa? I’ll put the kettle on. I’d murder a good brew! Tea. Call it what you like, it all boils down to the same thing.

Linguistically speaking, the fact we have created so many words for one things shows that it is of some importance to our culture. And indeed it is. The cup of tea: the great British classic. And I like it, a lot.

I like all types of teas. I can’t help myself from buying a new infusion whenever I see one which tickles my fancy. That’s why I have ended up with no fewer than 16 packets on my worktop. It is a bit cluttery, but I have a great selection and a tea for all occasions.

I’m a firm believer that the way one takes their tea changes from situation to situation. This is why one must always ask how one takes it, it can never be predicted. The variables are numerous – weather, tiredness, boyfriend situation to name a few – but so are the tea combinations: Earl Grey with milk, fennel with honey, chai with golden syrup…

In order to demonstrate my theory, I shall provide you, dear reader, with a few anecdotes of my modestly dull life to prove that tea is, indeed, variable.

* Blackberry and Cranberry

It’s 2am and I’m sitting on the kitchen floor with Curly eating crumpets and drinking Blackberry and Cranberry tea. We made the mistake of venturing to the Bop and are feeling a bit woozy. Too much wine. A wine rainbow in fact. The tea will make us feel better, soothe our souls, clarify our thoughts.

* White Tea

It’s 10 am and the tea from the night before didn’t help to relieve my woolly head this morning. Apparently caffeine doesn’t facilitate recovery so I’m on a light tisane, hoping it will cleanse. I switch on the telly, Saturday Kitchen Live. One of my favourites. I must be feeling funny though, because they seem to be frying hay. The wine rainbow seems to be playing with my eyesight. I suppose I’d better go back to bed…

* Fennel, honey

3pm and I rise from my nest. Much better, my eyes are no longer playing up. I’m pretty hungry but obviously the cupboards are bare: I ate all the crumpets last night. I could go to Tesco’s I suppose, but it’s so far and up a slight hill. I take a second rummage. No, there really is nothing. Not even an egg. Then I stumble across our baking cupboard which is beautifully stocked. Good old Curly. I’m not much of a baker, but this time I’m convinced my biscuits are looking good. As usual I apply the ‘you can never have too much sugar’ rule. Only the inevitable occurs in the oven. My biscuits melt into a paving slab-like formation, affectionately known as biscake. Only it’s as hard as a rock. These are desperate times… I eat them dunked in fennel tea. It takes off the crunchy edge.

* Lemon and Ginger, honey

It’s snowing outside. We don’t have enough money to heat the flat. You can see your breath in our kitchen. I’m wearing five layers including the obligatory mustard yellow granny cardigan with a woollen blanket around my knees. I’m still shivering though. I switch my happy light on and close my eyes. Yummy tea, very lemony. Lemons…. Sicily. Just pretend you’re in Sicily.

* English Breakfast, strong, dash of milk, 3 sugars.

Following a manic run, following a verbal assault on a spoon, following the return of a pair of shoes, following a break-up with the Tall One, Booksy, Curly and I are settling down to a calming brew. S prances in… Aren’t you meant to be in Pakistan, how do you know where we live now and why didn’t you knock? He’s wearing jogging bottoms, a farmer’s cap and Ugg boots, and I’ve never seen somebody look so out of place in a scruffy but highly decorated Fife Park kitchen. We’re glad to see him and all negativity surrounding Tall One disappears.

* Lady Grey, milky

It’s early morning. I’m sitting in the courtyard of the Blue Note Café. It’s sunny and the rays of sunlight make the semi-precious stones in the walls glimmer like gold. A man is smoking a joint. Bev comes back with the tea. It’s a bargain at just a pound and we take advantage, sitting around for hours, enjoying each other’s company, enjoying our youth.

You see, the way one takes their tea changes dependent on the situation at hand. And that’s why we will never be bored of it.

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