The ritual of making tea always punctuates the flow of my day. I meander to the kitchen between words. Making the tea helps my thoughts to flood out. Builder’s tea is my preference, but a friend challenged me to try something more refined. Thus, we went to Bath in search of tea and Jane Austen.
Bath Market has a wonderful array of teas. The selections are stored in jars like a sweetshop, but woe betide you if you venture to pick up the jars. The assistant will guide you through the tea sniffing journey.
I noted the different textures of the tea leaves: some leaves are larger and crisp while others are smaller and smoother. It was all rather overwhelming to learn selecting tea can be an art form.
I was forced to make my selection on the scent rather than the taste. I pontificated for some time. It had to be Lapsang Souchong, because I liked the sound of the words. It is a black tea, and the aroma of the tea leaves is beautifully smoky. The assistant said, ‘It is packed full of antioxidants and supports well-being.’ The tea sounded like a medicine delivered by a therapist. Apparently, ‘ this tea strengthens the immune system, prevents cardiovascular diseases and fights inflammation.’ Moreover, the Lapsan Souchong can assist with a hangover. What more could one ask for?
My selection was carefully wrapped in a parcel, labelled and presented to me. I couldn’t wait to try the tea at home. Initially, the tea was smoky with a hint of disinfectant. However, as the tea reached room temperature, the taste was pleasantly smoky and quite soothing. As I drank the tea, I decided to write this blog post.
According to Lin Yutang, ‘There’s something in the nature of tea that leads us into a world of quiet contemplation of life.’ And this seemed to work for me after the taste of the disinfectant had subsided.
I did meet with Jane Austen on another trip to Bath. On this occasion, I heard whispers as I strolled past the Royal Bath Crescent. A woman’s voice confided:
‘But indeed, I would rather have nothing but tea.’
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
Perhaps, the esteemed Miss Austen visited one of the grand houses to take tea with the lady of the house. However, I suspect tea making was also a glorious, thought-provoking ritual for Jane Austen.
Let me know what you think of speciality teas. Do you prefer a robust builder’s tea or a speciality tea? Is coffee the only fuel for your words?