Sunday, December 04, 2005


It has always been amusing to read from "Sense and Sensibility" Fanny's sudden departure from the subject matter which was getting rather heated. "Tea!" she announced. I know several people that use "Austen-eese" (sayings from the Jane Austen novels) in their vocabulary, when the occasion calls for it .

Seeing we have had some heavy subjects lately, I have felt like saying "tea." Truly, this is an astonishing movement across the United States and Canada. I thought when it first came upon the scene about 20 years ago, it would be a passing fad, but here it is going stronger than ever. There always seems to be a new tea room opening somewhere, or a tea party being held at someone's house. Yet, there are still those who have never been to a tea ceremony or taken tea at home.

Once you've attended such an event, you'll understand why it is all the rage in this country. World events and strife can weigh heavily on your mind, and tea is a perfect respite from it all.
Ladies, just because you are minding the business of the home, and not out working, does not mean that your family will be automatically free from the problems of the outside world. You have to guard your territory, keep it free from those things which break it down, and build up your troops. Families that have meals together or stop for tea at home, seem to have less troubled homes. This does not mean you will be completely free from troubles, but it provides a quiet time away from them.

Now, if you cannot go to tea, tea can be brought to you. You can order tea packages and tea party baskets which contain all the food and the tea, plus a porcelin cup and even a tea pot. If you wanted to put the time into it, you could do this for someone who needs a lift, by finding the items you need, adding your own baked goods, and enclosing it all in a choice of containers: a basket, a bucket, round or square box, gift bag, tray, attractive table cloth or dish towel, or other containers that match the interest of the one you are gifting.

Although home is supposed to be a refuge, certain elements of stress from the world can leave you feeling like you have waged war with giants. That is one reason I believe we don't need a steady stream of news media (often called "the enemy within). The home can be vulnerable to an over-abundance of negative information, which makes it easier to break down. You know it is time for tea when the tension has begun to take over. There is no problem that taking tea cannot make simpler. It is a time to settle down and think. Home can be compared to a nation, with its borders, language and culture. Sometimes, when winds of adversity threaten you, it is good to close the borders for awhile and just have tea, talk your "family-eese" (or Austen-eese) and share your common likes and dislikes, unselfconsiously.

Non-tea-drinkers can enjoy the many flavored infusions that contain no tea leaves at all, and still enjoy using a tea cup and breathing in the aromatic fragrance of lemon, orange spice, or berry. Make tea time special by not drinking it all the time. Reserve a tray with all the increments on it for when you need to have that relaxation. Look forward to sitting down and taking stock of your life, looking out the window at a beautiful scene, or just being quiet.

This kind of ceremony adds a new, safe and quiet dimension to your life. One of the best teas I ever had was homemade bread with fresh strawberry jam, and hot tea. That was all, but it settled my nerves enough to give me a renewed vigour for the remainder of the day and its myriad of responsibilities.

My favorite scones are from the Anne of Green Gables cookbook, and the sandwich which gets the most approval is a shredded carrot sandwich from Andrea Israel's book, "Taking Tea," which my husband bought me in Texas when the tea party revival began back in the early 80's. At the time, it was the only book around on the subject, but now there are hundreds of them. Some parts of Texas were settled by the British in the late 1700's and early 1800's, and there are cities there which have a little of the British flair from that period. I particularly liked The Strand, a 19th century shopping area in Galveston. It has been said that some Texans have always admired the British, rather envy them, and want to be British. The old fashioned custom of having tea in the afternoon is certainly well-done in many parts of Texas that I visited.

You can learn more about having a tea ceremony here http:/

If you are alone, making time for tea can take the edge of that loneliness and revive your interest in life. Just take a tray with some hot water and your favorite tea, load up a small plate with wholesome bite-size pieces of good food, and carry it to a comfortable seating area. In a little while your mind will be cleared of the clutter of complicated living; free to allow the creative thoughts that bring light to your life. Fifteen minutes ought to be enough time to meditate on something relaxing and supply your body with the afternoon pick-me-up it needs.

I'd like to share a favorite poem with you:

To love someone more dearly every day,
To help a wand'ring child to find his way,
To ponder o'er a noble thought, and pray
And smile when evening falls: This is my task.

To follow truth, as blind men long for light,
To do my best from dawn of day til night,
To keep my heart fit for His holy sight,
And answer when He calls: this is my task.

by E.L. Ashford.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Lady Lydia! Your post on tea WAS refreshing. :) How thoughtful of you to see the need, even on a blog site, to get away from the heavy and stressful things for a bit.


Anonymous said...

The picture you used for this article was beautiful. I feel like I could just walk right in and be comfortable!

Lydia said...

The painting is "Sunday Afternoon Tea" by Stephen Darbishire.

Cherish the Home said...

I agree, anonymous!.....that's just how I felt when seeing the picture!

Lady Lydia, your blog is so refreshing! It's like a breath of fresh air when I come here. I hope you keep posting. (o:

Anonymous said...

it is good to close the borders for awhile

I loved that phrase. I need to close my borders for a while. I have had too much people stimulation. Tea sounds lovely and I want to live in the picture.