The Quest for Tea


I’m forever in search of the perfect cup of tea.

I woke up thinking about how when we were poor, living in a cramped condo with two babies and three kids, I bought Lipton tea bags. They were inexpensive and I drank pots of tea each day, even though I had already experienced *real tea* and sadly, Lipton was not it.

My British midwife introduced me to tea during my first pregnancy. I lived in Morocco at the time. Each month, I drove an hour and a half to visit my midwife in the country’s capital for my check up. On the second visit, she offered me a cup of tea.

I gave her a quizzical look and said, “Ann, you know I can’t drink caffeine. I’m pregnant!”

Ann countered in her clipped English accent: “Julie, you don’t really think that British women give up tea, just because they’re pregnant! Sit down. Have a biscuit.” Then she poured the best tasting cup I had ever had.

I haven’t looked back.

I’ve drunk tea through all my pregnancies, while nursing, traveling, moving, working, homeschooling, and each morning of my life since.

I now invest in PG tips (I rationalize the expense, saying that since I don’t smoke, I can afford outrageously priced tea leaves). I get the triangle bags because they ensure better water flow, so I’ve been told.

I’ve owned Brown Bettys (squat clay teapots made in Britain) and I’ve used the Pfaltzgraff Yorktowne crockery teapot and mugs, happily, accidentally discovered and secured for $5.00 at a garage sale. Each purchase—I declare an improved tea experience!

I use a tea cozy to keep the pot warm. I warm the mugs with a swish of hot water to ensure proper heat to receive the tea.

Yet as I’ve lamented before, I never quite replicate the taste of tea I enjoy when I visit an authentic tearoom, or worse, when I sit in the kitchen of a British friend who unfussily pours me perfectly steeped, deep brown tea from an old pot in a cracked mug.

The next step will be investing in an electric kettle, for surely that is the missing element.

I don’t know why I felt like sharing about tea this morning. It’s just here, staring at me, like the old companion it is.

We have snow flurries in Cincinnati on the second day of spring. I’m thinking about my basketball brackets and my son in Paris and my daughter in New York and my three other kids local and busy with their grown-up lives… and remembering when I woke up with a cup of tea and our read aloud book in hand. I’d sit in the rocker and they’d be on the floor or strewn on the couch ready to listen.

Tea and read alouds—that’s how our days together began.

Now they read on their own… and drink tea, too—and share their love of both with the people in their lives. Tea and books—the grand connection point.


One Response to “The Quest for Tea”

  1. JenRay says:

    I’m no tea expert – just barely an enthusiast really – but I love Adagio Teas. They have a “brewer” called IngenuiTea, in which you use loose leaf tea, and it allows lots of water flow. They have hundreds of flavors and blends. So far my favorite black tea is Earl Grey Moonlight, and Foxtrot for herbal. I drink coffee in the morning, but the days when I remember to have a cup of tea around 3pm always seem to go better.