Lately, I've really been craving a good cup of tea.....actually, not just craving,but obsessing over the thought. I've reread every book about tea that I owned, and went out and bought a few more. I've been fantasizing about a tea room , or perhaps a salon where friends could come and have a wonderful cup of tea and a sandwich (or two or ten!)!
This fascination about afternoon tea has been with me for a very long time, actually ever since I was a little girl. Fortunately for a child like me, I have a mother with wonderful taste, who made it a point to introduce me to the art of afternoon tea very early in my life! Some of my most favorite memories are of the darling silver child sized tea set that she owns, that she used to let all us us play with whenever we wanted.My mother has a lot of beautiful things, but we always joke and say that the little tea set is the one thing that we'll all fight over when she's sadly gone. We've decided that we'll share it and send it happily back and forth between us all year! Such is the power of extraordinary memories!
This same wonderful mother, used to bring me tea and breakfast in bed when I was sick, on beautiful blue and white breakfast dishes. Somehow, I always got better quickly, but not until I'd milked at least two more days of lavish spoiling out of her!
No matter where I've been in the world with my mother, we've always made time for tea. (Martini's too, but that's another story!) High teas, breakfast teas, luncheon teas, bridal teas ,tea dances...whatever the occasion we can create a tea party for it! So many of the promotions that we did for our store were tea parties, there's just something about little sandwiches ,wonderful cookies and Wedgwood teapots that just makes anyone, even a very masculine man feel very romantic!
Ah, but I've digressed...I was talking about my current preoccupation with tea! When I was in North Carolina , I fell in love with that oh so Southern specialty....Sweet Tea! Everywhere you travel in the south, when you order an iced tea, the waitress will say to you with that lovely drawl....."Wouuuuudd you like regularrrrrrr tea, orrr sweeeeeeeeeeet teaaaaaaaa!" I've recently given up coffee, and you can blame it on that sweet tea! It's just wonderful, really good tea brewed, with the addition of a simple syrup, and heavily iced! Naturally ,when I came home I wanted to never be without it!
So, I returned home, made a wonderful simple mint syrup, (which is just as good in mint juleps on Derby Day!) and went to brew a pot of tea. Imagine my horror when I realized that even after two decades in the family business where I handled the most beautiful china, crystal and silver that you could imagine, that I didn't even have a simple teapot with which to brew a some really good tea! Now all of my former friends in the china business won't speak to me after I say this, but say it I will...I don't believe that you can brew a really good pot of tea in a fancy teapot! Now, nothing is more wonderful than tea served in lovely Spode ,silver or Limoges teapot...just not brewed! The English (who have made an entire lifestyle out of tea!) , know this well, which is why they created the teapot that I set out to find....The classic Brown Betty!
"Brown Betty Teapots are still made in Stoke-on Trent, formed from clay which comes from the same area where Elder Brothers found clay in 1695. The method of producing was known as'Jolleying' but over the years it has been modified to slip casting which gives the pot an even thickness and a smooth finish both inside and out. Generations of Englishmen have proved that the Brown Betty, as these Red Ware teapots are affectionately known, make the best pot of tea in the world. The shape of the pot causes the tea to be gently swirled around as the boiling water is added. The Red Terracotta Clay with its Rockingham Glaze, holds the heat better and gives the perfect cup of tea."
Well now that's quite a reputation to live up to, but I have discovered this to be the finest teapot that I've ever used! She's quite full bodied, with a lovely round shape dressed with a beautiful brown glaze inside and out, made with solid red clay thso earthy and warm to the touch! I warmed her up with hot water while I waited for the water for the tea water to boil, dumped the water out and put the tea inside and added the boiling water. Then I waited bloody impatiently for the requisite 5 minutes that it takes to brew a great pot of tea!
Well to make a long story short, it was wonderful, and actually the best pot of tea that I'd ever made.
I found a lovely Staffordshire cup, and added the mint syrup! It was Heaven, better than I'd ever imagined!
You can find fabulous loose tea almost anywhere these days, and the choices to be made...black or green? Herbal or Gunpowder? are almost endless. For loads of fun and an almost endless selection of fine loose teas go quickly to www.republicoftea.com
Coffee, and it's endless jitters willl soothingly become a very distant memory!