One time I was lucky enough to be in England. I was overwhelmed by it all, and I wanted so badly to not be that ugly American that makes people roll their eyes and smile smugly as if to say “what can you expect from a typical American tourist?” I don’t know why it mattered to me so much, nor why I thought anyone would be paying any attention to me.
Anyway, at the end of the stressful day of trying to fit in and look the correct way before crossing the busy streets of London, I met up with my hubby at our hotel, the Lord Mountbatten. We decided to have tea in the drawing room? parlor? tea room? I don’t remember. It was full of decor that reflected India, which I thought was odd for England until my much smarter hubby reminded me of England’s history in India, and I remembered my favorite books from childhood, The Secret Garden and A Little Princess where such things had been discussed.
Man, my fingers really know how to ramble.
Anyway, the waiter seemed to be one of those many lovely Londoners that does not look down upon hapless Americans and was pleased to show us the proper way to have afternoon tea. It was all about the pouring, apparently.
- First, begin pouring the tea (which has been brewing in the most elegant and pleasing teapot) into the cup, and then pour in the milk while still pouring the tea and stop pouring the milk while still pouring the tea until you finish.
- We had ordered Earl Grey tea, which we also received a lesson on. Apparently, there really was an Earl Grey, and only one tea maker in England has the right to sell Earl Grey’s tea. Not Earl Grey tea, Earl Grey’s tea. And that’s Jackson’s of Piccadilly.
- This was the most amazing and magical tea I had ever tasted. I was completely and utterly sold on tea.
We bought a huge tin of that tea before we left for home, and it was a very sad day when we ran out of the tea. (This was in the days before the internet, people! before Amazon!) I still have the tin and it still smells so fragrant and wonderful. But?
I can’t drink Earl Grey tea any longer. It just doesn’t taste right to me.
And no cracks about my aging taste buds, thank you very much.