Drinking a hot cup of tea has become my morning ritual. It has been something I’ve done from time-to-time since I was a little girl but, in the last couple of years, I have developed a true reverence for it. I find that I need my daily cuppa in order to feel like the day has gotten off to the right start. Coffee smells amazing but I have never been able to adjust to the bitterness of it. The golden elixir that is tea is the only thing that speaks to my soul.
My mother is the one who taught me the way to prepare a proper cup of tea. In her late teens, she lived in England with her family and she picked up the taste for hot tea then. Keep in mind she was (and still is!) a Southerner so it wasn’t her first time tasting tea, it was just different. Sweet Southern tea, served ice-cold, is refreshing where a hot cup of tea is soothing, comforting, like a gentle kiss that greets you, “good morning”. Anyway, my paternal grandmother is British (a WWII bride) and between her and my mother there was never a shortage of tea in our lives. Even with that fact though, my true love for tea didn’t come about until 2011 when my husband and I took a trip to Ireland.
Our first morning in Ireland, we went down for breakfast in our hotel. We were there bright and early and quickly learned that, in Ireland, breakfast is not served bright and early! Their pace of life is admirably slower than ours in the States and we grew to appreciate that immensely on our trip there. After a short wait, we were seated at our table and anxiously awaiting the glory of the full Irish breakfast. Our hotel did not disappoint! When our waitress brought out our pot of tea and I poured the first bit into my cup, I was in awe of the beautiful, golden liquid I saw. It was rich and luminous at the same time. I added my milk (never cream!) and sugar and gingerly took my first sip of “real” tea. It was heavenly! The tea was so smooth I could not believe it. All of my life, the tea at home had a strong bitterness that it imparted upon my palate but nothing like that greeted me in the glorious cup of Irish tea. With that first sip I was hooked and I have had tea nearly every morning since.
My favorite brands of tea are Irish. We have since been to England (where we had the most beautiful and delicious cream tea) and while the tea there is infinitely better than the US brands, my heart still belongs to Barry’s or Bewley’s tea. Loose tea is preferential to bagged but I must confess that the latter is what I use most often, simply out of convenience. Thankfully our grocery store and World Market both carry Barry’s Gold Blend tea so it is fairly easy for me to replenish my supply when it runs low. On the mornings when my husband is home, the loose tea leaves by Bewley’s make an appearance. He shares the pot with me and it feels ever-so-lovely to pour the steeped tea from the pot into the cup.
For me, tea is a bit of an indulgence and it brings me so much joy to sit at the table in the morning when the house is quiet and sip on my cup of tea. Do you have a daily or weekly ritual that brings you joy? If not, I encourage you to find something that does. It is a wonderful way to begin the day!