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February 2016



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Tea Drinking

Everything Stops for Tea

I admit it, I was raised with tea. I was raised with the symbolism and the ritual, with that sense of peace and calm coziness. Everyday, rain or shine, home from work at around 4 PM the Mum would sit herself down (one of the only times she actually stopped moving) and we would have tea.

When I was little tea came in a sippy cup, mostly milk, just a dash. As I got older the tea to milk ratio began to shift and I began taking my brew stronger and stronger. I still have to remind her, when I'm back home, that now I take my tea much stronger than she does.

But what, pray tell, does tea have to do with life as an author?

This post is more, Gentle Reader, with what tea has to do with life.

I stop for tea.

Every day, rain or since, deadline or copy edits, cubical or telecommute, convention or seminar ~ sometime between 3 and 4:30 pm I will make time to slip off and poor myself a cuppa. I'm not saying this makes me a better person. I am saying I have no idea how anyone who doesn't do this makes it through the day. How can anyone work straight from lunch to closing? It seems to me a tea break should be mandatory. Or at least the concept of a late afternoon pause: time to reconnect, to refuel, to remind oneself there is reason to go on.

It's practically inhumane not to stop for tea.

I mean goodness, no teatime? That's just uncivilized.

Yet here in this barbaric world of suburban Northern California do you know what most cafes do? Can you even comprehend the sin?

Well, I shall tell you.

They close at 3 PM.

I can hear the European gasps of shock from here.

Seriously. 3 PM.

Not that you can get a decent cup of tea at such establishments (but occasionally when I am fighting jet lag I yen for a nice latte.)

So here's my cry of pain. Please, institute teatime. For yourself. For your family. For your work colleagues. Do it for your own sanity. For the sake of civilization. For the good of humanity!

It is possible that teatime might solve everything. All our problems gone in one fell swoop, if only we stopped for tea.

"There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea."
~ Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady

The obligatory follow up questions:

What's my everyday tea?
Twinnings Black Box imported from England (not the American red version).

For a special occasion?
Pure large leaf Assam. No waffling with the leaf, thank you. I want it strong and dark with no herby frills. And for goodness sake no fruit mixers and no sweetener. Why would you do that to tea?

How do I take it?
Strong enough to build a house on with a nice dollop of whole milk. Not skim. Not cream. Don't pussy foot around, people.

Do I ever drink coffee?
I'm even more of a snob about it. I never drink drip, what the Europeans often call "watery American coffee." I like light roast Italian blend lattes, whole milk, no foam (what they call a Flat White Down Under.) And you better believe I will throw away a latte after one sip if it's burnt, scalded milk, too French, or too grainy. And, oh yes, I will throw it away very ostentatiously. Then I'll write a nasty Yelp review. I expect the tea to suck here in the States (except in a self-titled tea house) but don't mess up a $3 latte.

What about Starbucks?
*blank stair*
I like their couscous Mediterranean salads bento box food thingy. Great plane food.


Your Tisane of Smart . . .
The History of Battenburg cake.

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .
What Makes a Critic Tick? Connected Authors and the Determinants of Book Reviews

Deportment & Deceit ~ The Finishing School Book the Second: Working first draft.
Etiquette & Espionage ~ The Finishing School Book the First: Release date Feb 2013.
Manga ~ Soulless Vol. 2: (AKA Changeless) First chapter reviewed, drops on YenPlus April 12th. Print release tentatively Dec. 2012.
Timeless ~ Parasol Protectorate Book the Last. Out now!
Prudence ~ The Parasol Protectorate Abroad Book the First: Release date Fall 2013.

BIG FAT SPOILER ALERT on the Parasol Protectorate series! Really, DON'T READ THE BLURB ON AMAZON if you haven't read the other books first!

The Omnibus hardback editions are limited run through the SciFi Bookclub only.

The manga editions, Vol. available in print, Vol. 2 by subscription to YenPlus.

Most short stories available in ebook form world wide!

The first Finishing School book ~ Not yet Released

Book News:

Ivy by Matt Harrison @matchoo28 on Twitter

Quote of the Day:
"You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me."
~ C.S. Lewis

Daisypath Wedding tickers



That said, messed up as my daily routine is, I have tea time in the morning. Don't function without. *hears Ms Carriger's gasp of shock all over the Atlantic*
Actually I drink it both times too. And sometimes for lunch. I just didn't want to overwhelm the readers with the idea of two teatimes. One has to start gently.
While it's confession time... I drink organic sencha almost all day. There, it's out.

Actually I'm appalled when a café closes at 6, and quite disgruntled if it's 8. Open 24/7, that'd be cozy.
I totally agree with you. I'm reading this while drinking a cup of tea slightly sweetened with some stevia. The brand is PG Tips which only recently started appearing in NY supermarkets. I don't know how you, the expert, would rate it but I and some of my friends really like it.

PG Tips is my back up tea, since you can get the British version in Safeway now. If I'm aout of my usual, I'll dash out for some Tips.
I have this vague idea that you are in "the city". But when I lived in Nor Cal, my favorite tea shop was L'amyx in Oakland (http://www.yelp.com/biz/l-amyx-tea-bar-oakland) They might be more of an asian influence, but it's delicious. Just ignore bubble tea. I always do.
Thank you for your beautifully written plea for real tea time here in the States!
Since I was a child (I'm now 21) we've always had 'afternoonsis' every day. I'm not a fan of hot beverages apart from hot chocolate, but I'll always stop somewhere around 4 or 4:30 for a piece of cake of some sort. I don't think I'd cope without it.
They close at 3 PM.

Good Grief! That's just... no, I can't get my head around that idea.
Keep in mind our cycle includes a period of "downtime" everyday between two and four, so a time for tea and tiffin makes a lot of sense.
Ever since my favorite tea place closed - it's now a dry cleaners - I haven't had a decent cup of tea. Even I can't make it properly. Probably because most of my family drinks coffee.

"Blank stair" or "blank stare"???
Afternoon tea is as much an institution here in Australia as it is in England. Most of our cafes do a good trade at that time.
Not in New Zealand, though. When I was there they all closed at 3, too.
I don't function at all well without my afternoon tea (well, I drink coffee, but the principle is the same).

Like above people said, afternoon tea is an institution in Australia, and there would be hardly any cafes that would close earlier that 5pm.

*giggle* at the comment about Starbucks. Maybe I'm spoilt becuase of the coffee-culture here, but the *worst* coffee I had when I was in the US was from Starbucks. And I've had Starbucks coffee here (before they closed most of the stores), and it wasn't much better.


BLECH! Don't know how anyone can stand that swill.

First off, they use arabica coffee, which is the cheapest kind of beans you can buy. They grow in the lowlands, are picked before they're ripe, and ripen in a warehouse.

Whereas Colombian coffee grows high in the mountains and is only picked when fully ripe. Think about it, people pay extra for vine ripened tomatoes because they taste better than warehouse ripened. Same applies to coffee beans.

Then Staryucks BURNS the beans - on purpose!

Next time, come to California, and go to The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. While they're coffee isn't quite as good as my mom's, they're a very close second.
Afternoon tea is one of the best things ever invented. I have it every Sunday afternoon at the local tea house (it's a coffee free zone!) from 2-4pm.

And I definitely, definitely could not through a day of work or studying without a cup of tea! Even if it's just having one when I get home at 5pm to relax and unwind.

They close at 3 PM.

:O And I thought it was bad that the cafe near my work closes at 4pm! But 3pm...that's the perfect time for a cup of tea!

(Afternoon tea is definitely an institution in Australia, but I find that many of the cafes in my city close around 4-4:30pm. Stupid public service time.)
I get a little peckish about 3:30pm every day. I always figured it was because 22 years of school (mine plus my kids') trained me that snack time falls between the end of the school day and the start of homework.

If I skip snack time (tea time), the afternoon and evening are nigh unto impossible to navigate. My brain is exhausted and sluggish and whines at having to do anything requiring higher brain function. Like laundry or brushing my teeth.
Like Midnightblooms our teatime is snacktime, usually 2:30ish which is when I get home from picking up my daughter. She's 2 1/2 but enjoys Tazo's Sweet Orange with honey or hot chocolate (her favorite). Our snack is typically fruit and toast.

Thanks for posting the link about the mysteries of Battenburg cake. The combination of history and baked goods always sets my heart aflutter.