by Stephanie Hanson
For some people, tea was a discovery of adulthood. For others, tea goes back to earliest memory. I belong to the latter tea party. My grandmother always had a pitcher of sweet tea in the fridge, and I would drink it out of Dixie cups sitting on her screened in back porch.
It was at her house that I had my first tea party. It was New Year’s Eve, the first time that I was allowed to stay up until midnight, and I had a tea party with my mother and my dolls. That was before I developed a taste for hot tea, so the doll-sized porcelain cups were filled with the ever-present sweet tea. My dolls had quite a lovely time, but I ended up in tears because one of the stocking holders fell off the mantle and shattered a saucer. I can’t remember whether I was sad about the broken saucer or afraid that I would get in trouble because the tea set had belonged to my great-grandmother when she was a girl.
Later on, I developed a taste for hot tea, aided in part by more porcelain. When my other grandmother passed away, I inherited my first two teapots. One was a modern tea for one pot, that I used constantly throughout my childhood and continue to use to this day. The other was an antique blue and white elephant, which I never used for fear of breakage, and still have never used. But it holds a place of honor with my tea things. I would spend hours curled up in one of the wing chairs in the living room, the pot of tea next to me filled with Constant Comment or Cinnamon Stick and my nose stuck in a book. And when I came in from playing in the snow, I would sometimes choose hot chocolate, but often tea was my choice. My dad kept the teabags in a big brown wooden box that had once held cigars, but I never thought of it as anything other than a tea box.
Having recently visited the DeWitt Wallace Museum and enjoyed their vast display of tea wares, the thought came to me that not only are those lovely objects, protected behind glass, but they were once beloved objects, filled with memories long-forgotten. And I wonder if my 1750s teacup has any of its own memories.
Stephanie’s blog, The Tea Scoop, is a great place to read more about tea!