The Politics of Tea

Valley of Gold by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

I don’t know about you, but I was woefully unprepared for the latest three-day weekend.

It’s not just that there was no tree, an absence of carved pumpkins, a dearth of fireworks, or lasagna instead of turkey — I foresee these same issues the next time the postal lady takes a day off.

No, the main thing about that three-day weekend is that the assorted progeny were all flocking home, and I Was Out of Tea.

I’m talking tea here, not tea party; and real, loose, quality tea, not the pulverized dust stuffed into little bags.

I order it from a fine establishment in Massachusetts that manages to get it here just shortly after I announce to the family, “I ordered some more tea!” But, given that I ordered it Friday night,  the household tea supply may as well have been tossed over the ship’s side, for all the chance we had of a decent hot cuppa.

Morning Tea, by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

Saturday  afternoon found me trolling through the establishments of our little town, looking for loose tea, which, obviously, was not in the lumber store, the old fashioned department store (we actually have one of those), or the feed store; neither was it, however, in the grocery store.

One helpful merchant suggested I check the Amazing Coffee Shop run by the Amazing Computer Fix-It Man — frankly, finding tea in a coffee shop is like looking for bicycles in a car dealership — but in my desperation I was heading in that direction when I was sidetracked by the Incandescently Dreamy Yarn Boutique.

You don’t have to find tea in a yarn shop. I mean, it’s full of YARN. What else could a person need?

So, one hour later — basking in a warm, happy glow — I emerged with my dark green bag of fiber treasures when I suddenly realized that I Was Still Out of Tea.

Dear Reader, I caved in.

I stood in the grocery hot beverage aisle scanning an array of boxes, all of which were filled with Fannings Grade tea dust. I don’t know why this grade of “tea” is labeled Fannings, but I extrapolate that Fannings is one step away from fanny, which is not only the unfortunate first name of a 19th century woman who penned atrocious verse mercifully confined to church hymnals, but also a euphemism for, well, tushie.

Need I say more?

For a moment I agonized between a yellow box generically labeled TEA and a smaller, more expensive box with pretty much the same stuff but half the amount, but a far prettier label. I thought briefly of heading back to the feed store and purchasing an equivalent product, only for goats, but ultimately closed my eyes, snatched the yellow Box ‘o Tea, and shoved my bills at the grocery clerk before I could change my mind.

Meanwhile, the progeny was purchasing pop and coffee.

Did ANY of my genes make it to their DNAs?

But wait, there is a happy ending to all of this.

The progeny exchanged looks with one another — mothers, you know these — and we drove back to prepare a dinner of steak, macaroni and cheese not from a box, hot homemade French bread, stir fried vegetables, and blueberry cheesecake. (By the way, I strongly encourage parents to give their older children cookbooks for Christmas; the ongoing benefits are enormous, not to mention delicious.)

And, we had “tea.”

I even allowed it to be strained into the hand-painted Polish teapot, to which I apologize profusely.

The Norwegian Artist poured cups all around, and we all settled down to the serious business of eating and talking.

No one reached for their tea cup.

Finally, as we looked up expectantly at the cheesecake, College Girl took a sip of the insipid umber liquid reposing in her hand-painted Polish bubble mug (to which I also profusely apologize).

Polish Pottery by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

“Ugh.”

We all took sips, and the first comment pretty much encapsulated the consensus opinion.

“You know,” College Girl mused, “I used to think that you were a little obsessive about this tea thing, but you were right.”

Oh. My. God.

Did I really hear those words?

Sweet.

Sweet.

“The tea from the Remarkably Fast Shipping Tea Emporium Out East really is different. It’s strong.”

“Flavorful,” Tired of Being Youngest chipped in.

“Full bodied.” This from the Norwegian Artist, who was looking directly at me at the time, but I’m sure he was referring to the tea.

“Don’t they talk about Mouth Feel in the wine industry? I see what they mean,” Eldest mused.

“TEA!” Toddler yelled. (Or was she saying “Kitty”?)

Do you see this? Do you understand?

I have actually taught and guided and nurtured and influenced my family about an important issue of life.

Okay, so we’re not talking God here, or moral standards, or financial wisdom, or even Agatha Christie novels, but we are talking about an item that has played a part in history for the last 3,000 years.

I’m good with that.

Musings, by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

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About This Woman Writes

Carolyn Henderson is the marketing manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art. In addition to her This Woman Writes blog, Carolyn writes a regular art column for FineArtNews, an online newsletter for artists and art collectors.
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7 Responses to The Politics of Tea

  1. pegoleg says:

    Congratulations on reaching such a milestone! You give hope to those of us still yearning to hear the magic words, “Mom, you were right.” Although, I’m not really looking forward to the end of the world that such an event will surely portend.

    • Hang on, my friend — it will happen. It may sound a bit different, though, like — “That phone plan wasn’t the best idea I’ve had.”

      “I don’t think vibrating blue eye shadow works for the image I’m trying to convey to future employers.”

      “Man! Those overdraft fees are expensive. I don’t want that to happen again.”

      “I’m glad that I got the tattoo someplace where it can’t be seen when I’m wearing clothes.”

      Then, you just smile inside your brain, nod your head, and look sage.

      • pegoleg says:

        It’s probably more politic to keep the smiling sageness to oneself, but not quite as satisfying as the fist-pumping victory dance accompanied by “Yes! I TOLD you so. That’ll teach you to do what momma says the FIRST time!”

  2. I have had those I told you so moments SO MANY TIMES that I have learned to do that fist-pumping, heart-thumping victory dance in my head — the eye rollings and sighs took away my unadulterated pleasure.

    Now I smile quietly to myself while my brain does its dizzy spin.

  3. Anya says:

    We’re all tea snobs in our family as well, but each to a different degree. My dad won’t drink tea unless it was steeped today, which is funny because if you think about it time-wise, tea that was brewed in the morning and is ingested in the evening is actually “older” than tea brewed in the evening and drunk the following morning. I won’t do name brands and pulverized leaf particles, and my sister, who worked at a high-end tea shoppe (yes, with an “E” 🙂 for a couple of years, of course has much greater expectations that the rest of us lay people do not even understand 🙂

  4. We make three or four batches with the same leaves throughout the day, then toss out the soggy leaves in the morning.

    Shoppe with and E — this sounds high end indeed. I would love to know the different expectations your sister has about tea, having been exposed to some fine quality leaves through the year.

    It is good to connect with another tea aficionado. It is important that we find one another and support one another, considering the incredible pressure there is to drink coffee in this nation.

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