Sunday, July 31, 2005

Short English Stories about A Nice Cup of Tea

Anyone fancy a cuppa char...? Here are some pictures and ponderances about my favourite brew...

photograph picture of my two favourite teapots which I brought with me to America from the UK
Tea is my addiction. It is probably the only thing I consume every day of my life.

photograph picture of my favourite tea caddy
This is my favourite tea caddy. My mother has one too. Hers is so well used that the picture of the dog has completely worn away. We were trying to work out how old they were. I can't remember never not having these caddies. Nor can my mother. They are probably somewhere between 35-50 years old. My mother is adamant they were free with Cadbury's Chocolate Fingers inside. But on the bottom of my tin is a lable which says TEA 1/2lb NET, regd. trademark No80386, so I am not so sure. For the sake of Fred - this is where I now keep the tea bags. He makes a cup of tea, just for me, first thing every morning. This is such a treat, he can make it however he wants, and if that means a bag, so be it.

photograph picture of my two favourite tea strainer a present from my grandmother UK
My gorgeous grandmother bought this little silver plated tea strainer for me from an antique shop several years ago.

photograph picture one of my favourite tea pots
This is the teapot given to me by my friend Penny for my Birthday years and years ago, long before either of us had even thought about moving to San Francisco. I love it. It is extremely hardy and the perfect size for one person .

photograph picture one of my favourite tea pots
Best of all, it has a built in strainer. I use it at the weekends to make a proper cup of tea. (To me, a 'proper' cup of tea means leaves, not bags.) When I was at school, probably aged about 13 or 14, our English teacher set the homework assignment to be 'Write an Essay on How to Make a cup of Tea'. After she had read all our descriptions, I will never forget the teacher coming in to the class and expressing her shock at we'd written. Apparently, every single pupil had simply recounted throwing a teabag in a mug, boiling a kettle, pouring on water, removing the bag with a spoon and then adding a splash of milk. Of course, this was not the way she thought it should be done. I'll never forget the passion with which she described the real way to make tea. Warming the pot, fresh water boiled only once, using leaves instead of bags. It was after that lesson, that I resolved to always try and make my tea properly in future.

photograph picture one of my favourite tea pots
This teapot is huge. It is my teapot for entertaining. It can probably make a dozen cups of tea. It is so heavy when full, it takes two hands to lift it. Hence the little handle you can see between the spout and the lid. In 1989, I was working for a company (long since defunct) called Amazing Array. I didn't like drinking my tea from a bag, so I asked the manager if we could have some petty cash to buy a teapot and she said yes. I went to The Teahouse in Covent Garden and purchased this huge pot for about £20. Shortly thereafter the company folded and I guess I 'helped myself' to the teapot in lieu of some unpaid wages.

photograph picture one of Mariage Freres tea tins from paris
A couple of years ago some friend bough me two tins of tea from Paris. I love them, they are so stylish and French looking. This is where I now keep my loose leaf tea.

photograph picture one of Mariage Freres tea tins from paris
Out of habit, I guess, I favour Twinings English loose leaf tea which I usually stock up on when I am the UK. I simply love the classics, the blended afternoon and breakfast teas and scented Earl Grey. I drink my tea without milk or sugar and I favour black teas like assam and darjeeling the most.

PS This was an entry for Clement's Is My Blog Burning 17, TasteTea.
Archive Alert! On this day in 2004 we were witing about Gordon's in Napa and Crepuscule in San Francisco.

posted in and and
Short English Stories about A Nice Cup of Tea


  • At 31/7/05 12:08, Blogger *fanny* said…

    I love your tea caddie, it's so beautiful; i love your "big tea pot" too.
    Btw, thanx for sharing with us all those tea moments.

  • At 31/7/05 12:08, Blogger Stephanie said…

    Sam, I agree with you...loose leaf tea is so much better. I confess we more often than not use bags, for convenience, but when we have the time Matt and I love a nice, hot (proper) cuppa!

    And I'm totally digging that huge tea pot!

  • At 31/7/05 13:03, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    nice big tea pot and caddie.

    The people in my country mostly drink coffee so i am also addicted to coffee, not tea. But I like tea, too especially the Moroccan tea

  • At 31/7/05 13:30, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What a lovely collection. I've started keeping my own tins but haven't yet added anything antique, which might be nice. I've also wanted to collect cups and saucers from whatever china might catch my fancy. Perhaps this month's IMBB will finally inspire me to get started on that.

  • At 31/7/05 16:51, Blogger Amy Sherman said…

    When you need a cup of tea, there is nothing like having your sweetie make it for you. Dunno why. But it's true.

    I'm a big fan of Mariage Frere teas too. My favorites are Exotique and Marco Polo and I also hang onto the tins. If you get to go to their shop in Paris buy a box of their chocolates with crisp tea on on top, they are to die for!

  • At 31/7/05 18:30, Blogger cookiecrumb said…

    OMG, you know about Mariage Freres! aaahhh.
    Sam, been to the Mill Valley tea shop? On Miller Ave. Phillip's Coffee, Tea & Spices.

  • At 31/7/05 20:39, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sam, such a lovely post and I especially love the doggy caddy :)

  • At 31/7/05 23:18, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Dear Sam,
    I guess your English roots are undenieable ;) Your tins are so beautiful - especially the one with the dog! I've been collecting tea tins for a long time, but "had to give up" due to limited space on top of our kitchen cupboards...

  • At 1/8/05 01:01, Blogger Monkey Gland said…

    I was on the west coast for an extended stay over the latter half of last year. I don't know what it was but I could never get my tea to taste right. Is it the water? Or am I such a die hard Londoner that I refused to believe tea could ever taste "proper" outside of the M25?

  • At 1/8/05 09:15, Blogger Jennifer Maiser said…

    Thanks for posting this and giving some insight to those of us who have no clue about good tea. I have to tell you that the time you came to my house for the knife skills class I was totally mortified when you said you'd have tea -- knowing that I would definitely not be prepping it correctly! Because of that, I had Jason's Brit stepdad tell me about the proper cup ... I still need to practice though before you can come over again.

  • At 1/8/05 09:46, Blogger eat stuff said…

    I have just started drinking some really good tea! I bought some SFTGFOP-1 tea and the smell! It is sooo fragrant!

  • At 1/8/05 14:15, Blogger Owen said…


    I have to admit I am an inveterate tea bag user - there aren't enough functioning brain cells at 6AM to manage leaf tea. That gets saved for special afternoon teas.

    We drink a LOT of tea. The care package weighs somewhere between 5 and ten pounds and arrives from England three times a year. It is mostly one thing - Sainsbury's Ceylon (or what used to be called Green Label when I was a kid). I have been drinking it for over 30 years at this point and nothing else really measures up. But we do also get Assam, Kenya, Darjeeling and some others. Also blackcurrant.

    I only see one requisite item missing from your paraphernalia - where is the cozy?

    One final recommendation for all you potential tourists to London. If you don't have the money for afternoon tea at the Savoy or Claridge's but want a good experience, head to the Orangery in Kensington Palace Gardens where the full-on afternoon tea is excellent and won't break the bank, plus the setting is delightful.

  • At 1/8/05 16:58, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I recently became a tea drinker and we now have as many different sized teapots as we do coffee plungers. We always use loose leaf tea. It surprises me how so many cafés that would never serve instant coffee are prepared to serve a tea bag cup of tea.

  • At 1/8/05 17:55, Blogger Rachael Narins said…

    What a sweet post. And what a lucky girl to have tea made for you everyday! Awwww.

    On the other hand, wheres your electric kettle? Do they make inferior tea? Inquiring minds want to know...


  • At 1/8/05 20:49, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    One thing Bob and I share that really is lovely is our morning tea ritual. I've never been with a man who is a tea drinker, and happy I didn't have to endure drinking coffee to keep him company.

    Every morning for nearly fourteen years, one of us makes tea and brings it to the other. It's pretty evenly matched, though the scales tip slightly in his favor because he usually has to be up and I usually do not.

    I confess to using teabags, for his sake, as his brain really doesn't function at all until he's had his tea. He often drinks it with his eyes closed, and then they pop open halfway through.

    I do have lots of loose leaf tea, and often I make myself a small pot to last the morning at my desk. I am boss can be a real bitch but she brings me tea every morning. Heh.

  • At 1/8/05 21:33, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I love the mariage freres teas. I first found them in NYC at Dean & Deluca, then made the pilgrimage to their proper shop when I was in Paris 2 years ago. I keep thinking I may turn the empty tins into candle holders or something of that ilk.

  • At 2/8/05 04:33, Blogger Farmgirl Susan said…

    What a neat post. Love the photos. And I'd forgotten all about Cadbury's Chocolate Fingers--yum! Thanks for the memory. : )

  • At 2/8/05 07:13, Blogger Sam said…

    fanny - that tea caddie is one of those old, old things I just can't imagine living without. I am gald my mum had a spare one.

    stephanie - I don't use the big one nearly enough. I should invite you all around!

    Nahum - my parents only drink coffee, their children only drink tea

    Jennifer - I would like to collect some proper old antique tea cups but they are harder to come by in the US than the UK

    Amy - next time I am in Paris - I am after those choccies. thanks for the tip.

    Cookiecrumb - mill callley - no - I will have to look out for that one thanks

    Keiko - maybe you can find a dog caddie like that somewhere in a junk shop in England

    Nicky - I'd love to see some pics of your tea caddy collectioon too

    Monkey Gland - in my experience they never make the water hot enough when you drink tea in cafes/restaurants here. At home I can overcome that problem by boiling the water myself. You can make a decent cuppa.

    Jen - really - I remember the look of horror on your face when I asked for tea. Expect the same scared look when you come to my house and ask for coffee!

    Clare - you will have to translate SFTGFOP-1 for me.

    Owen - thanks for the Orangery tip - I did not know that. Now that when I visit London I am a tourist - I can try out these kinds of things.

    Barbara - that's avery good point about tea in cafes. I'd never really thought about it, but you have a very good point.

    Rachael - I never thought I could live without an electric kettle, but then I found the stove tops ones so old-fashioned and charming, plus you are more likely to get the water exactly at the point of boiling. Electric kettles turn themselves off so the water is less likely to be at exactly the right temperature for making tea. Far more convenient though.

    Tana - 14 years - great story - and I think the teabags are just fine for first thing in the morning!

    furlinedteacup - - um candle holders sound pretty. Maybe you could punch holes in them and use them outside for tealights?

    farmgirl - Did you know about chocolate fingers tea straw? It's an AMAZING trick. Bight both ends off a chocolate finger and use it like a straw to drink your tea. Judge carefully - there will be a point (you'll be able to feel it) just before the biscuit collapeses that you have to quickly gobble it up before it falls into the tea and ruins both.

  • At 2/8/05 11:13, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What a journey! Thank you. I am a tea lover too!


  • At 3/8/05 11:35, Blogger Kim said…

    My latest favorite tea is Universe du The's Sencha Sunrise, which a friend brought me from Brussels. It has a hint of cherry and it looks as wonderful as it tastes.

  • At 13/8/05 14:08, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sam just got back from cornwall and enjoyed your blog. We had cream tea( with June and michael) and yes I did actually drink tea!! and enjoyed it. I wish my caddy looked as good as yours.

  • At 29/10/05 10:56, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    wow, very nice tea pot!

  • At 18/6/08 12:13, Blogger Dr.Gray said…

    I totally agree with you on loose leaf tea. It seems like an art has been lost somewhere in the past few decades. I suppose its the busy lifestyle or something. But there is no excuse. On the negative side though I gotta say Twillings? Come on you can do better than that.


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