Sunday, 29 November 2009

My Cuppa Tea

Lily, my English boss, teasingly told me to drink up my tea as I may be contributing to global warming by letting it go cold. There are enough cows farting around. We couldn’t afford to melt more ice bergs, British tabloid says, or as everyone amusingly interpret it.

I think here in England, the tea automatically freezes as soon as you put it down, as if the magic wind sweeps through and takes my heat away to Antartica. Prolly Santa Claus is working too much that’s why Antartica’s melting. Oh, where does he live again? Damn, Im old.

Better drink my cuppa before they blame me for destroying the earth or blaspheming Papa Santa.

I stopped ashort and start to think how many ways could a tea be done?

Do you put the milk and the teabag together before pouring in His Hotness? Do you take the teabag off or do you let it mull and procrastinate its way into caffeinating your senses? I wonder if its illegal to put sugar on my English Breakfast Tea. Not many I know do, oh well half I know are vodka drinkers, quarter on beer supplements, but everybody seems to have their own cuppa.

And the most interesting part is that the array of creative reasons why people have tea. Default and obvious are to make them warm, to go with their scones and shortbread, and of course to take a break.

Also unorthodox reasons, amongst hearsay is to cut an awkward conversation. Eg: “So you’re gay?” Dad asks, Mummy cuts in and dutifully asks everybody “Anybody wants a tea? (pats Daddy on the back) its getting a bit cold here my love. Everybody could use a tea”. Wouldn’t it seem weird if she asks if anybody wants a coffee, as if she would be putting the whole awkwardness into overdrive with a Starbucks. But with tea it seems calm and polite, it seems like a very sociable and graceful way of saying let’s drop the topic.

Also, I think tea is more engaging, remember when people used to drink from one big teapot small and stout, here is the handle, here is the spout? I think even though that people now drink in separate tea cups individualized into skinny, decaf, white or chai, the idea of having a tea takes us back to tea parties and nursery rhymes of big tea pitchers parallel to partaking, sharing, mingling and socializing. Hence when you asked somebody for a cup of tea it’s more of an occasion to chatter, catch up or probably tone down a pace of a situation. Sometimes when you asked somebody if he wants a coffee, its either he thinks you’re seeing sleep in his eyes or you want a cigarette break buddy. That’s our code in college when we’re all at the library. Once my bestfriend says Im getting coffee downstairs, I go in my autopilot “me too”, and another smoker echoes a “me three” as coffee meant ciggie break too. But that’s just for me, or for us.

Tea meant a lot of things to a lot of people, I think it had become our sweet little deed of kindness in the pub, it’s our code for “are you ok, I’ll make you a cuppa so you’ll feel better”. She makes tea for me after a hard shift or early on to give me a break after prep up, I make tea for her when I think she’s having those knee problems again or when the sales are not good, or when we have a hard day. Maybe the tea ethos is about the effort not the drink, it’s about the offer, it’s prolly just about having somebody remembered that you could really use a break. So you want a cuppa?

1 comment:

  1. i love that tea is a part of your culture as a social thing, much like it is in the chinese household i grew up in. as an american, it feels very solitary.