Candlelight can really set a mood, turning a humdrum dinner into a romantic encounter and a simple tea time into an exotic event. We all have our moods. We can be happy, sad, thoughtful, playful, solemn, and exalted. But the flicker of candle flames transcends them all and brings a relaxation to whatever you’re doing.
Some of my favorite tea times are when the electricity goes out during a bad storm. There is a silence that comes from computers being off, the air conditioning or furnace blower being still, and the refrigerator hum being quelled. These storms usually come up in the evening, and even if the sun hasn’t set yet, the dark clouds make for a dark house interior. That means it’s candle time. (Flashlights are also possibilities, but they have more of a creepy effect as in The Blair Witch Project.) But there’s a bit of a drawback to this situation: without electricity I can’t heat water to steep tea. The solution is to be sure to have a hot pot of tea freshly steeped just before the electricity goes out. Timing, though, is a bit tricky for this and requires keeping a sharp eye on my favorite weather web site. As the dark red that indicates the most severe downpours approaches, I get busy steeping up that “stormy potful.”
Candles glowing and tea steaming in the cups help make the general discomfort of having no electricity a little more bearable. At least for the first hour. Playing Scrabble or UpWords or Mille Bournes (our favorite card game) is a welcome tea time activity, with or without electricity. Some munchies that don’t need to be cooked or heated are great to have on hand, too. Fresh fruit and veggies are obvious options, as are crackers, cookies (I love those chocolate covered McVitie’s Digestives), and various canned items like sardines and beanie-weenies that can be opened and eaten (the electricity seems to go out a lot around here, so we’re well stocked).
Of course, you don’t need a power outage to strike that match and set a candle busy creating a cozy atmosphere. You will need a room not flooded with sunshine, though. Heavy draperies and/or blinds can help here. Select a tea you can serve up by the potful such as Typhoo Tea, PG Tips, Yorkshire Harrogate, Devonshire Tea, and similar brands. Pick your favorite tea time delights to enjoy with the tea. They always seem to taste more special by candlelight. (One theory is that not being so focused on the visual in the lower light of the candle heightens your other senses, but I can’t say for sure if this is true.)
Next time a major storm heads your way, be sure to have a pot of tea ready and some candles and matches. Then, gather together for some quality time, sipping tea and playing your favorite board or card game. Better yet, don’t wait for that outage. Just pull the drapes shut and turn out the lights so the candles can cast their glow over your tea time. Enjoy!
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