The Winter holidays are behind us, but candles still set a great teatime mood. Of course, they come in handy when a Winter storm causes a power outage. But I digress.
Tea is one of those beverages with extraordinary versatility. It can be pretty straightforward, something to wet your whistle and either warm or cool you inside. At the same time, tea can be the center of attention at a tea party or any gathering of family and friends. It can be a focus point for two people in love, stimulating with aroma and flavor, or a comforting companion for a quiet moment by yourself.
Candles have a similar versatility. They can be strictly utilitarian, providing light and a bit of warmth, especially during a power outage (oops, digressing again). They can be decorative and fill the air with various scents, whether lit or not. They can be the centerpiece for a soirée with a group of friends or a cozy circle of light, bright but gentle, on your tea table for two. They can be your only companion, casting a yellow aura against the dark, sitting alongside an aromatic cup of tea and an engrossing novel.
In these days of electricity, most wonderful of inventions that it is, we lose some of that mood conveyed by a candle’s light. A light bulb glares and spreads its still, harsh light out wide, removing any mystery in the shadows, any stirring of the imagination that those shadows incite, any dreams and fantasies that linger there. But a candle flame confines its rays to a smaller sphere, eating up the wick and turning the column of wax into a puddle. A slight motion of air when you move makes the light bob and weave, shadows dancing to the same rhythm as that flame, revealing areas in darkness while sucking light out of others, if only for a quick instant.
Maybe it’s the poet in me, but candle light invokes memories and dreams, adding a dimension to any occasion that would otherwise be just another dinner party, another family gathering, another teatime with my hubby (yum!), or another soulful tea moment on my own. Conversation seems loftier and humor more humorous. Holding hands transforms into a blending of hearts and souls. One pair of eyes locking sight with another becomes a conduit for feelings, not just mere conveyors of waves of light exciting the brain. A view out the window or solving a crossword puzzle takes on a Zen quality, focusing your mind and energy in a clear way.
How befitting the enjoyment of a fine tea. Smoky Lapsang Souchong, spicy chai sweetened and made smooth with milk, fragrant Jasmine green, Imperial Formosa Oolong with its regal and gentle flavor, or the fruity and planty goodness of Darjeeling all benefit from the enhancement of the charms of candles aglow. Of course, even our tried and true teas, the ones we turn to for our daily tea lift, seem more flavorful and enticing by candlelight. Even novels I’ve read before are more enjoyable, with the ending changing to a happy one instead of a sad one — not really!
Do your own comparison by enjoying a cup of tea by candlelight, instead of a light bulb. (Just be careful about the flame around things that are — well — flammable.) Enjoy!
Make sure to check out A.C.’s blog, Tea Time with A.C. Cargill. It’s a great place to learn about different ways of enjoying a good cup of tea!