Friday, 23 April 2010

Hat trick

While contemplating what I’d write about today, I ran through what I’ve done the last several days, and I realised I’d broken my grandfather’s rule about idiots. He used to say that only idiots talked in public about sex, politics or religion. Not that he’d have thought of a blog as public per se. But still.

So this week I’ve talked about two of those idiot things and I thought I’d go for a hat trick. In the interest of full disclosure, I know a bit about religion. It wasn’t an evangelical one, but I was raised in a relatively religious family. We were Episcopalians and I’m sad to report that some of my relatives are still so afflicted. My mother so much so that she went to seminary years ago and became a priest. For you non Americans, she’s an Anglican. C of E. That’s where tea comes in. Anglicans love tea. A lot.

I know tea is important to many Muslims and the entire history of tea and Buddhism are entwined. Despite the fact that I’m very curious about these other faiths, I don’t know that much. So I’ll avoid saying something stupid by focusing on religion I know a bit about. And honestly, I can’t speak of all of Christianity. Have been to mass, but Catholicism is still foreign to me. Southern Baptists are a curious lot, but I only know of them from the outside looking in. My grandfather was a Methodist minister and I’ve sat through many endless church plus post-church cafeteria sessions. What tea do Methodists drink? I don’t know. Iced tea? What do Presbyterians drink? Probably decent tea bags but as unsweetened as possible (you know, the whole Calvinist thing).

Anglicans or Episcopalians drink tea. No question about this one. Sure some of them drink coffee, but they’re probably converts. Came to the Church by way of marriage I’d venture to bet. Real Episcopalians drink tea. With or without milk. Preferably in the late afternoon when the weight of the day has finally overcome them. Retire to the study or the front room, or whatever you call the quietest room in the house where the ‘good’ furniture is.

When I was a child, this was the one room in the house I wanted nothing to do with. And when we went to visit other people, this was the room I always avoided. The adults would congregate there and talk of sex, politics or religion in hushed tones. A handful of times I tried to sit quietly and listen, but it was dreadfully boring. Still is to be honest.

The tea was often steeping as we arrived. If there were children in the house we were visiting, I’d immediately convince them we needed to go outside or as far away from the tea as possible. Once we were sorted, the adults could pour the tea and pass around the biscuits and, as I say, talk of taboo themes. Quietly. We were Episcopalians after all. We did talk about those things. Just quietly. I’m grateful we talked of them, but it was hard to hear us talking. Still is.

After an hour or so, the adults had drained a pot (or three) and we went home to dinner preparation and homework and whatever else we used to do in the evening. Isn’t it funny that I remember the details of tea more than I do the evenings? I really do. Even though I didn’t take part in the actual tea drinking, I appreciated the monotony of it. Every afternoon the same thing. Over and over and over again. The older I get, the more appealing such a thing becomes.


  1. When I was a kid and had come down to Perth for the obligatory visits, I loved nothing more than going with my grandparents to visit their friends and rellies. I'd sit in the corner with a book but really I'd be engrossed with all the conversation. The lurid gossip. No one lowered their voices. There was a lot of screeching laughter. Everyone was Catholic. I don't drink tea. I really don't like hot drinks much at all.

    Does it all add up to something?

  2. What I also meant to say was: good post. I like your blog.

  3. "Sure some of them drink coffee, but they’re probably converts."

    Really funny.
    I am sure I could use this sentence somewhere else. :D

  4. Well, I can't really link tea to religion for my family, but I know that my mom and stepdad drink both coffee and bagged tea. I'm gonna try to see if I can get my mom into loose leaf. I bought her a loose leaf flavoured blend (some of that Creamy Nut Oolong blend that I got from Teaopia), but she hasn't touched it yet. She seems to be stuck in her usual English Breakfast/Earl Grey tea bag funk. >=O

  5. Glad you both liked it. Was laughing almost the whole time I wrote it. As Asiatic Fox says, I was 'teadrunk'.

  6. Lovely blogpost. Church and tea not a ritual in a Bronx Jewish household. My Polish-born grandmother would drink it iron-strong with a sugar cube between her teeth.