My Mother means much more than some photographs in the family album to me. We might no longer be able to sit to sit down in person and chat over a cup of tea but she’s still very much part of my life. She has shaped it in more ways than I might have imagined.
My Mother was a churchgoing person with strong family values who valued simplicity and service to others. Like most women of her generation she was a housewife, and after marriage never went back to a paid job again. Even if she had wanted to, with a husband and eight children to look after she could not have found the time. Her busy day was interspersed with the small ritual of a cup of tea in the afternoon.
When she was in her nineties, and no longer able to travel her three little great granddaughters flew to Wellington so she could finally meet them. The little one was just three but she can still fondly remember the special tea party my Mother put on for them. To her my Mum will always be that kind old tea lady!
My Mother, like her Mother before her, served black tea in china cups with sugar and milk or a slice of lemon served alongside. She always drank hers plain. Tea bags had not yet been invented when she started her life in tea. So for most of her life she brewed loose leaf tea in a teapot.
I am part of the tea bag generation. Over the years I have boiled the kettle countless times, dropped bags of tea into pottery mugs and made comforting brews for friends and family.
I have long been a Dilmah tea drinker. It’s a single origin tea so a cut above ordinary gumboot tea . Ceylon is my preference although I’ve also had small and happy flirtations with some of their other special flavours like Moroccan Mint, Earl Grey, and English Breakfast.
My son is a conservationist and has a healthy approach to life so likes his tea Green. He often tells me to stop rushing around, slow down and to enjoy the moment. Recently he reconverted me to the art of making a “proper “ cup of tea in a pot.
There’s an art to brewing Dilmah Loose Leaf Green tea. After it comes to the boil it’s important to let the water cool down to hot (80 degrees C) before pouring it over the leaves in the pot. Otherwise it will bring out the bitter qualities in the unoxidised leaves. Then it must be left to brew for two minutes.
Tea made properly this way has a grassy herbal fragrance with a note of citrus and much more of a tea flavour than that brewed from a bag. You can easily taste the difference.
I am into the habit now of taking time out every day to make tea in a teapot .As I sip a cup of tea slowly outside in the autumn sun I listen to the birdsong and think of family and how tea links our generations.