When an American hears the phrase “afternoon tea,” it conjures up images of fancy tea rooms, lace tablecloths, and silver tea services. For the English, afternoon tea is far simpler. Sometimes, having afternoon tea just means sitting down in the afternoon for a relaxing cup of tea. No fancy accessories required.
My dearest friend, Liza, lived in India in her early childhood, and her family has never left this tradition behind. As soon as I walk in the door, the kettle is set to bubbling, and we drink tea while we chat. Michele Rivers’ book, Time for Tea, describes occasions such as these, through thirteen conversations with English women about their lives and the constant presence of tea. Some are tea shop owners, some are women, and all thrive on a good strong cup of tea.
Each of the stories has its own poignancy, its own personal touch. Some are so charming that I long to hop on a plane to fly to one of the small English villages mentioned in the story, to pay a visit to the Periwinkle Tea Room. Winnie, born in 1913, has a dialect that comes through so clearly in the text, that you can almost hear her telling about her memories of the first half of the twentieth century. Hayley, age six, gives her thoughts on tea: “When I grow up I’m going to eat a lot more chocolate and have tea in bed too.”
With stories that span the generations, this is truly a charming book. It’s a bit of a cookbook too, with recipes from each woman (or girl). I haven’t had a chance to make any of them yet, but they look fabulously delicious, or as some English tea drinkers might say, a bit “moreish.”
Don’t forget to check out Stephanie’s blog, The Tea Scoop!
[Editor’s note: Our blog is chock full of great articles on this topic. Use our search feature to find them!]
© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.