Spot of Tea?

28 Jan


“Spot of Tea” was the subject line of an email I received that sparked this memory.

One of my grandma’s lived in England until she immigrated as a young adult. Whenever we visited her, or she visited us, we would have a Tea Party. A Real Tea Party.  Proper manners and etiquette were required so if we ever had “Tea with the Queen” we would know how to act.

We would set the table and choose our cup and saucer from the tea-cup collection. Cookies (usually Peek Freens (gingersnaps or bourbon cremes were my favorites)) would be carefully arranged on a fancy plate. Milk (not cream) and Sugar in proper containers (although we weren’t allowed to use sugar).

Meanwhile, Grandma would fill the teapot with hot water to warm it, while the kettle was heating the water for the tea. Once the kettle reached a rolling boil (and it had to be rolling), she would empty teapot, add a careful measure of tea leaves (never a tea bag) to the teapot, and then the boiling water. She would bring the teapot over and carefully place it on the table to steep. Once the tea was deemed ready, she would turn the pot around a couple of times to gently stir the tea. Each of us in turn would hand over our chosen cup and saucer, and she would add a whole lot of milk and then a splash of tea (we weren’t really allowed tea). We would then have “tea” with a “biscuit” as she called them, and then talk while we had our tea.

After we were finished with our tea, one of us would hand our cup back to Grandma and she would turn the cup upside down and put it back on the saucer and then turn it around a specific number of times. Then she would pick it back up and carefully study the tea leaves in the bottom for a few minutes as we waited impatiently to hear what the tea leaves said would be in our future. Telling us our fortune she would point out what each tea leaf looked like, and how that meant we would go a trip on a boat (or whatever), but she had a knack for creating a good tale reading our tea leaves. She would repeat the process for each of us, just as vivid and yet different each time.

Then we would clean up, wash and dry the dishes, and put them carefully away.

Funny how words trigger us – it’s been four decades since I had a “Tea Party” with Grandma – but the words “Spot of Tea” brought it back clear as day.

Anyone else have that happen?

Happy Monday!


Posted by on January 28, 2013 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , ,

15 responses to “Spot of Tea?

  1. Don't We Look Alike?

    January 28, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    What a beautiful post!


  2. cb

    January 28, 2013 at 11:57 pm

    I agree with “Don’t we look alike?”, a lovely post 🙂

    In regards to grandparents, I’ve never had any living ones.


    • TAO

      January 29, 2013 at 3:48 pm

      Wow – I probably should have known that – that sucks. Gands add a lot to the family (good ones anyway).


  3. kellie3

    January 29, 2013 at 12:31 am

    What a beautiful memory.


  4. JavaMonkey

    January 29, 2013 at 10:56 am

    That is a wonderful story! You made me feel as if I was there with you. This story belongs in your family’s archives.


  5. shadowtheadoptee

    January 29, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    ditto to what the others have said. A sweet memory.


  6. shannon2818

    January 29, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    What a great memory. It sounds like you had some special times with your grandma.


    • TAO

      January 29, 2013 at 3:49 pm

      I did – but even more with my other grand…


  7. Valentine Logar

    January 30, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    What a lovely memory. Thank you for sharing that one. One of my grandmothers was a hoot, a regular southern lady, someday I will write about her.


  8. Beth

    January 31, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    That is absolutely lovely. I agree you should save it for family archives. Just reading it brought back so many sweet memories for me. Thank you. It’s funny how one word or phrase can do that to us. “wax paper” set me off on memory lane yesterday, it was wonderful.


    • TAO

      January 31, 2013 at 10:41 pm

      Wax paper? I love your stories – care to share?


  9. Beth

    February 1, 2013 at 3:27 am

    You know it’s hard for me not to share 🙂

    During the summers I got to stay with my grandparents near Cherokee, NC. My favorite people in the world to be with growing up. My little brothers, aparents bio sons, would also come. My grandfather would take me fishing at least once a week so we could escape them! Mom didn’t like my brothers going with us, partly due to my grandfather visiting his native relatives while there, she didn’t visit them either. I didn’t know that part until many years later. M grandfather told me it was because she babied them too much.

    My grandfather’s mother died when he was an infant, she fell down the ladder after going up to get onions from the loft 😦 His southern preacher father remarried and they had more kids. His second wife died, he remarried and they adopted a young girl.

    We talked about our lost mothers while we were alone. It was safe to talk about then, in the truck alone and out in the woods by the always freezing cold river. He even took me over the hill to Kentucky one time, where my mother was from, just to look around. We never told anyone anything other than how many fish we’d caught.

    We would quietly grab our gear and go without my brothers noticing.
    My sweet southern grandma would pack food for our trip, it was always the same. She would set it on the steps in the basement/garage for us to pick up and sneak out. We even rolled the truck down the drive way (when I got older) so they wouldn’t catch us.

    After the hour drive through the mountains and after fishing for a while, we would find a good spot and lay out an old quilt that smelled like the back of his truck (a mix of outboard motor oil and fish LOL) to sit on. She put the food in gallon sized metal buckets, wrapped in a cloth. From one bucket he would pull out ice cold small glass bottles of Coca Cola and dry them off with his handkerchief. From the other I would take out fried chicken, ham sandwiches, peanut butter on Ritz crackers, apples, carrots and chocolate chip cookies, all of it individually and perfectly wrapped in wax paper like little presents. Mine were tied with twine and a bow. I would lay the cloth out and divide up the food.

    Like your tea party we set things up and put things away in the same way every time. Then we would lay back in the middle of the wilderness, take a nap by the river and wait for the fish to bite. Then we would go visit his Aunts and cousins. One of the aunts would go to the back of the truck, get the ice bucket with fish he’d put there for her and get the used wax paper from the other. We would sit at an outside table, clean the fish, flatten out all the wax paper sheets and wrap the fish in the wax paper to cover it while they got the fire ready to cook fish and fresh veges for dinner. I always fell asleep on the ride home, dirty, stinky, fat and happy.

    Those were some wonderful days. I am so thankful for those memories. Thanks for reminding me with yours.



    • TAO

      February 1, 2013 at 1:01 pm

      That was wonderful. Funny how we self-select to people. Love the wax-paper link and have to note the reusing instead of getting new – tin-foil – had to use it carefully so it was good for another use.


  10. Beth

    April 3, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    TAO, I know you like stories too, and I happen to be in a story telling mood today due to “grandma’s buttons” coming up again. My daughter sent me a simple yet elegant framed picture of a bunny for Easter, made from my grandmothers old buttons. So I thought I’d share.

    When I was little and staying at my grandparents house (same ones as in the story before) I loved playing with my grandmothers buttons and thread. She was a great seamstress, taught me how to sew, made dresses for me and my mother. I didn’t like the dress part much, but I always got one, like it or not, for Christmas and Easter. I have many pictures of me, the tomboy, outside in my new dress looking entirely miserable. I did sometimes enjoy shopping for material, picking out patterns, buttons, lace (ack) and things. Many days, especially rainy ones when we were stuck in the house I’d organize and play with all her buttons and things while she was sewing. And we’d work on quilts for endless hours. There wasn’t much to do at Grandma’s house LOL

    A few years ago when I sold one business, I started another. Mostly just for something to do, and mainly to help some of my young mom friends, and old lady friends, make some spending money since they found it hard to work away from the home full time. I used to make and sell quilts when my daughter was born for extra money. Since I was taught to sew and I’d hoarded all sorts of fabrics and things over the years, we collected more and began making quilts to sell. Which led to specialty quilts, which led to all sorts of household and baby items. We had a room for all of the kids to stay in, and help from some of the teens, and me, with keeping an eye on them and meeting the school bus.

    I got bored with it after a while, as I usually do with my projects, so I let the three original women know they could take it where they wanted to take it. Use my building and do what they could do. Since then, they have made it boom. Sold their line to major retail stores, bought their own building with new machinery and are making far more than quilt money. And are now in the works of starting another facility. I’m so proud of them.

    Back to my daughter, she also sent me a picture of a Christmas tree made from grandma’s buttons. She’s sending these pictures because she’s found out that she can “get to me” with grandmas buttons LOL

    The grandma’s button incident that nearly did me in was last May at her wedding. I arrive to help and she hands me a bunch of cards to write the guests names on so they will know where to sit for dinner. Then she hands me a bag of buttons that she’d glued tacks to to stick them to a cork board. I recognized the buttons from playing with them decades ago. She had played with them too, there still wan’t much to do at Grandma’s house when she was little either! It got me all choked up that she had chosen to use them for her wedding, not to mention that she had found and kept them.

    It’s pretty neat how some simple buttons can mean so much.

    I even have pics, thanks to my daughter making it easy for me 🙂


    • TAO

      April 3, 2013 at 8:46 pm

      Awe Beth – both the story and the blog post are awesome…the only thing missing was a picture of the bride’s mama… 😦



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