I’m very fond of British dramas; I’m a fan of Downton Abbey, Mr. Selfridge, The Paradise, and Larkrise to Candleford. But one past British drama, which my mother enjoyed decades ago, I’d never seen, and that was the original “Upstairs, Downstairs,” series which started in 1971. However, all of the episodes from the five seasons are available on Amazon.com, so I watch one every day or so, and am now midway through the second season.
The serving and drinking of tea as part of “Upstairs, Downstairs” is particularly prominent and I have long been fascinated by the 4 o’clock “tea time” observed in Great Britain, not so much for how it is observed, but the fact that one pauses during the day to enjoy a cup of tea and perhaps something light (or heavy, depending on the time of day) to eat with it.
Because I work at home and am busy most of the day, I’ve essentially stopped having a lunch time, eating at my desk as I work, not stopping for anything unless I have to. But the idea of pausing during my day has begun to appeal to me, and I’ve developed the habit of stopping to have a cup of tea during the day, and it relaxes me.
What I find relaxing is not just the drinking of the tea, but the entire process of having a cup of it. I like getting out the familiar small red tea pot and my cheerful cup and saucer, measuring a heaping teaspoon of loose tea into the tea pot’s mesh infuser, boiling the water and pouring it over the tea, then letting it steep for 5 minutes. Then I pour it into the cup, add a teaspoon of sugar and a bit of soy milk, and sit down to enjoy it. The whole preparation takes perhaps ten minutes, but in those ten minutes setting everything out and waiting for the water to boil and the tea to brew helps me to slow down and changes my perspective on the rest of my day.
Although my current favorite tea (not really a “true” tea, since it’s herbal) is vanilla rooibos, a pause to eat or drink something that one finds relaxing during the day can be anything. My father liked to stop his work and have a mid-afternoon Snickers bar. My mother was fond of stopping to enjoy a bit of coffee-flavored candy. A friend of mine who also works at home likes to relax with a bit of hard cheese, olives, bread and a small glass of wine.
What food or drink ritual do you have that you stop for and find relaxing during your day? Please share!