our year of discontent, diluted in a cup of tea ~

This has been a difficult year. For me, for my friends & family, for the world, really. Not as simple as the pandemic, it’s also the stripping of blindfolds from cultural eyes, if that makes sense: we are seeing clearly the bloody wounds in the body politic. We are finding ourselves unable to converse politely with both strangers and family. We are, ourselves, wounded.

I have no easy answers.

That said, I do have distraction: tea. And teacups. And tea history, and teapots, and all the lovely surcease offered by centuries of cultivated comfort. Scones, and cookies, and tea sandwiches. The company of tea lovers. But mostly? Just tea — the hot soothing elixir that has gotten me through many bad afternoons this past year.

Tea has been a constant in my life since I was small, drinking it iced, heavily sweetened, & sporting a couple of lemon slices. Southern style, I would find out later. As a barefoot kid standing in front of the cooler blowing damp air through the Oklahoma heat, it was just the way we drank it then.

         Years later, I would drink Thai tea with its pale layer of cream spiraling down into the red liquid below. I would learn to suck tapioca pearls – ‘fish eyes,’ we called them when I was a teenager – through a large straw long before bubble tea was popular in the US.

        Later still, I would share bottomless glass cups of sweet mint tea with my friends in Algiers, going on to figure out the intricacies of English tea when we moved to Saudi Arabia. The secrets of black teas, oolongs, greens, & whites have become as familiar to me as my family history. Not to mention the necessary equipage – tea scoops, strainers, tea balls, tiered serving stands, and of course…teapots. I have sooo many teapots!

         This is a tea-lover’s admittedly winding journey through the world of tea. Teas – cups, mugs,  pots of and afternoon tea sets – I’ve been lucky enough to savour. There will be (I hope!) something here for almost every tea lover: Japanese tea ritual, English afternoon & high teas, children’s nursery teas, Arabic mint tea. Chai, boba, lapsang souchong. Woven through the various aspects of tea (history, lore, customs & traditions) are stories, my own & those of others. There are also recipes of things that go with tea, as well as that critical information: how to make the perfect pot of tea. And there are pictures – what would writing about teas be without pictures?

         Here’s hoping you have a cup nearby, and are curled up somewhere comfortable. Consider this a rather windy road, with frequent stops for tea! More soon!

Published by: Britton Gildersleeve

Writer Britton Gildersleeve grew up in Southeast Asia, moved to the Middle East when she married, and returned to Oklahoma to raise her two sons. Now that they're grown, she and her beloved live in Virginia, where she can be closer to sons, daughter-in-law, & grandsons. Sometimes she hears voices, so she writes ~ And she drinks a lot of tea.

Categories Britton Gildersleeve, teaTags2 Comments

2 thoughts on “our year of discontent, diluted in a cup of tea ~”

  1. My grandmother bought savings bonds for each of us grandkids when we were born. They were to be used exclusively for travel after we grew up – no cars or college expenses – just travel.

    When I graduated from college my parents added to the amount from Nana and my younger sister and I went on a grand tour of Europe. We bought Eurail passes, took a student ship to England, and had 13 weeks of the journey of a lifetime.

    While in Gibraltar we decided that we couldn’t miss going to Africa (Morocco) since we were so close. We took a ferry. I got seasick. Still feeling rocky after we arrived, I tried to order a coca cola at a restaurant. The waiter spoke English and insisted I needed green tea to settle my stomach. I wanted that coke but he brought me the tea anyway. It was mint tea and it did soothe my stomach. So bullied, I sat on the porch of a British hotel for the afternoon drinking tea while my sister wandered around the casbah on her own. Maybe it was a safer world then. All I saw of Africa was the dramatic coastline, the docks, and a European style hotel but I did learn the healing power of tea.


    1. What a wonderful story, Penny! And how generous as well as canny of your grandmother ~ travel is at least as educational as more structured learning. We’ll have to have some sweet Moroccan mint tea together when things lighten up; it’s something I learned to love when I lived in Algeria. Thank you for sharing. ❤️


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