I just got back from a mother’s day tea party at Atticus’ kindergarten. It was adorable, and Atty”s kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Root, and her helper’s had laid out plastic table cloths and real cups and saucers for mom’s [I’m a M-o-m now, not a M-u-m, as I always expected], dixie cups of lemonade for the kids.
[An aside: Australian readers are thinking wait a second, her son’s teacher’s name is MRS ROOT? this would be the worst name for a teacher in Australia, because root is slang for sex. If you were being very crude [or funny] you would say to someone: wanna root?]
I was super impressed with the effort that Mrs Root had put into this party. She is an awesome teacher. But was I expecting to actually drink tea?
I have long ago adjusted my expectations around tea when we are in Montana.
Early on, I tried every brand of black tea I could find. I ordered it online, I bought it in bulk in fancy health food store’s. I don’t know what it is, but American tea just tastes bad to me.
I’m kind of mad about the Boston tea party, although still shady on the details, because I suspect we are still tasting the repercussions here in the US. We could be drinking great tea, like they have in Ireland, Australia, New Zealand: basically, all the western countries that didn’t chuck a bunch of tea in the sea.
I think that the countries that grow tea [India, Pakistan, Kenya, Turkey] give American tea suppliers all the dregs at the bottom of the tea chest – tiny specks of tea mixed with grass and sheep poop and other things that don’t taste like tea.
One of my closest friend’s here, Shawna, stopped drinking coffee last year. And when tea was her main vice she finally understood what I’d been complaining about all these years.
So I started slipping her some of my gift tea, sent from Australia. Mum is my main supply, but it’s become common knowledge for Australian’s visiting that a few packets of Aussie tea will always be welcome.
Australian tea is strong, but somehow still sweet. Many people drink it with a bit of milk, some with a lot of sugar. Because it’s not as caffeinated as coffee, it’s served more often: when you go to someone’s house anytime of day, you’re often asked: wanna cuppa?
My cousin Lily always has a weak, milky cup of tea before bed. I love her sleepy dependence on the routine: even in the days we were out drinking together, she would come home and make tea at 2 am.
When I first had Atticus, and my friend Lulu had a baby at the same time, she said to me once, sleep deprived and frustrated with babies: “It was a five cups of tea day today for sure.”
Although I usually have just one cup, and thankfully my baby days are over, sometimes I still use Lulu’s measure. Hangover days. Jet lagged days. Days after everyone had a stomach bug all night.
One of Haakon’s cousin’s, Amanda, once took us to an amazing tea house in Boulder, Colorado. It was early in my time here, and I remember that cup of tea being very special, especially that I could ask for milk with the tea and be understood [American’s usually drink black tea black].
I remember the first time I was served my own cup of tea: I was about ten, and I was on holiday with my family, visiting some good friends of my parents who were staying at Scott’s Head in northern NSW.
It was late [for me] and dark and a salty warm wind blew off the ocean. My friend, Meredith, the daughter of mum and Dad’s friend’s, and I were given warm, milky cups of tea and what seemed like a generous amount of scotch finger biscuit’s for dunking.
We took our treats to the upper deck of the rental, looking out into the darkness where we could just barely see white waves rolling in; but we could hear the roar.
The wind blew, and I remember getting kind of crazy, jumping and holding our arms out. Was it the tea? the lateness of the hour? the thrill of feeling like adults?
Whatever it was, addiction set in, and tea stills feels like home. It’s the first thing I do when I wake up: put the kettle on, drink tea with milk.
Back in the kindergarten classroom, Tracy [a teacher’s aide] came around with an ornate tea pot: but what would be in it?
Turns out, tea.
And really tasty tea. Some kind of lightly sweet, iced tea with an earl grey flavor.
And Atticus asked me for a sip. So I gave him one.