by Robin Munson


There is no problem that can’t be solved over a cup of tea. 

Art and I have been sipping tea together now for about thirty years.  There is tea every morning with breakfast, and usually, another cup of tea in the afternoon. We both like it with milk (the preferred British way). We prefer Irish Breakfast in the morning (no offense to all you Brits, but it is a little stronger).

As you raise your cup there is a fine, subtly astringent aroma. Then you take your first sip – heaven.  The warmth and comfort permeates your body, gently rousing you from early morning dreaminess.   You can actually feel all those sweet little antioxidants going to work and waking up your immune system. Aaaaaah!

How can you possibly squabble at such a moment?  You can’t.  You would have to put your teacup down and walk into another room. When friends announce engagements or get married, my first thought is to give them a tea pot, because if more people drank tea in this country, there would be less divorce.  

Truly, the best tea should be brewed in a pot, even if you use tea bags (which I usually do myself for convenience).  I know that I am not the first to praise the beauty of ceremony in the presentation of tea.  The more lovely the presentation, it seems, the better the tea tastes. 

I like to linger over tea.  I like to sit there for at least a half hour, preferably an hour.  Art and I like to discuss our plans for the day over a cup of tea.  We like to solve the household problems over a cup of tea.  We have even written a few songs over a cup of tea. 

When we lived in Tennessee, we discovered a wonderful tea room called Miss Mable’s out in Dickson, Tennessee.  (Sadly, it’s no longer there.) But at the time, there was not much in Dickson, apart from a Walmart, several fast food restaurants, maybe a hardware store, a few churches, and a couple of antique stores. (Oh – and a great local old-time country radio station that broadcast outside next to chicken coops.) But Miss Mable’s was a bastion of civilization.  It was strictly in the British Victorian tradition.  It was decorated with lace curtains, a mish-mash of floral china pieces, with hardwood floors and Oriental rugs.  There was a traditional English garden outside of the renovated Victorian house.  Art and I tried to get there at least once a week in the early afternoon.  We would sit there for over an hour eating scones and sipping tea.

Once we went when there was a private party in the main dining room, and we were forced to sit all alone in a small outer room.  Over the course of two hours, we drank so much Buckingham Palace (a very special tea blend which has just a hint of Earl Grey), that we got giddy on the caffeine.  We started to tell each other funny stories and found ourselves laughing uncontrollably!  The owner, Faye, came in several times to check on us.  We had to explain that we were “drunk” on the tea.  She gave us a funny look and left us to our own devices.

For our eighth anniversary we had a party on the wrap-around porch at Miss Mable’s.  It was an early evening party, and of course, there was plenty of tea for everyone.  The food was light and delicious.  The atmosphere was warm and festive.  I dressed for the occasion in an antique Victorian looking dress.  I may have looked dorky, but we had a great time, and I think all of our guests did, too.

Every time we watch one of our favorite shows – a Brit-com called, “As Time Goes By” – I wait for the moment when Judy Dench serves tea (she almost always does).  Out comes the silver service and the china cups, the lemon wedges and the sugar cubes, and I can smell the tea right through the television screen.  It makes me want to get up and make us yet another pot, but I refrain since we watch at night and the caffeine will keep me awake.

By the way – It has been my experience that decaffeinated tea tends to taste like fish.  I would suggest rather that you decaffeinate your tea yourself.  Here is how it was explained to me by Mary at the Rose Cottage Tea Room in Pasadena (a fabulous place):  You pour just enough boiling water over the tea to cover it and leave the water on the tea for just  5-20 seconds.  Then you dump that water.  Most of the caffeine will go out with that water.  Then you pour the boiling water to fill the pot.  Voila, decaf tea.  I’ve done it myself, and I do believe it works (although maybe not completely.)

Of all the wonderful things in life, tea may be one of the best and least appreciated (at least in this country).  I’m sure your mother gave you tea when you were sick as a child (probably Lipton, with dry toast).   Now that you’re grown up, try the healing properties of tea when you’re well.  You’ll feel even better.

P.S.  “Herbal tea” is not tea.  But that’s a subject for another day. 

© Robin Munson

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