Uplifting … tea

Its that time of the year when it seems that the sunshine has long disappeared and the days are grey, it is so easy to get a little downhearted, especially when the dullness means lights need to be turned on early in the day. It is when I find it more important to search for simple pleasures and one of mine is tea. 
Firstly I love proper leaf first blush assam tea, you can get it from a wonderful tea importer in Portsmouth called All About Tea he even has a little email tea course you can follow with links on youtube all about how to make the best cup of tea. Assam has a strong earthy flavour, and a lovely golden colour often labelled English Breakfast tea. If you prefer something a little more gentle then Darjeeling is a lovely tea but don’t expect a dark colour its pale but packs a punch. 
Tea pots have a glory all of their own, generously pot bellied offering up all sorts of opportunities to keep warm with a knitted cosy. I prefer to use a metal strainer which gives the leaves freedom but makes it easy to lift out once the required strength is reached, so the second, or even the third cup of tea is just as good as the first and not stewed. 
One of my most favourite ways to have tea is from my little china cups, it feels decadent the tiny china cups are so delicate I love the little rosebuds and they are designed so that the tea is at the optimum temperature to enjoy almost straight away. 

I cannot help but grin when I serve the milk from this gorgeous cow creamer, the milk comes out of his mouth! It is a Burleigh design, I simply adore their take on blue and white china from the deep indigo of the calico range to the pale Victorian chintz.

Sitting enjoying my cup of tea, especially if it is with a friend or two, reminds me of the many years of practice I had when I was a child playing with my little tea sets. I don’t recall any child who likes to make their tea in a mug with a bag give me tea sets any day.

Now that is a very good way to cheer up a November day.

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Tea Tales in Winchester

It is difficult to get the real size of this cup, but it was as high as my waist! 

I had to visit Winchester for business, it was not the happiest of visits, but when I came out my mood was lifted when I discovered that Winchester Library had an exhibition on Tea, celebrating the Great British Love for the amber nectar! (Ok I know that phase is Aussie, but it sounds good!)

I used to visit the library years ago and the building was impressive but it was the epitome of libraries in the 1980’s full of very dusty books and prim librarians. What a change!
The Winchester Discovery Centre is a fantastic library certainly the way ahead, full of interactive displays computers and books! they have a permanent display space that can host exhibitions for local groups as well as their own.

This is one of the earliest ‘teas made’ dating to the 1950’s. I had one when the children were small and they are excellent.

The tea cosy has a little china doll figure at the top, my Nan had one very similar. They were so pretty those days I remember I was not allowed to play with it. I have been thinking of doing a similar type of tea cosy, but have yet to find the right doll!

The pincer things are for breaking up the sugar into cubes! and I did love the pretty victorian china cup beside it.

Some of the signs really were beautifully done, I can just about remember liptons

And Lyons tea, but I have never heard of Nectar tea or County tea. 

This lovely picnic basket was complete with its flasks and tea cups, imagine lugging that around today? The little tin was a pretty sleigh design, I love the pretty design of the cake stand, reminiscent of the 1950’s as it formed part of the celebrations for the Queen’s Coronation. 

It was the Duchess of Devonshire who set the trend for Afternoon tea, to bridge the long gap between luncheon and Dinner, which in the 17th Century was often as late as 8pm. In those days the lady of the house would have a little water urn and make the tea for her guests, so there were lots of silver urns made in that period. Tea was a very expensive luxury, and tea caddies were often locked. 
The tradition about wether or not the milk goes first came about during this period, china manufacturing was in its infancy and therefore only the most expensive porcelain could withstand the heat of the tea without cracking, hence by putting in the milk after the tea shows the quality of the service and the wealth of the hostess. 
This tea urn is Russian, they are also a nation of  black tea drinkers  however, it is usually served very sweet and black.

It was a great exhibition and totally free! Which is always a great thing.