Monday, January 10, 2011

My First "Spot of Tea"

One of the phrases I have heard spoken hundreds, if not thousands, of times over the years from legitimate citizens of the British Commonwealth, pretentious Americans who have watched way too much BBC America and my Cambridge educated/Anglophile college roommate Katie is, "...fancy a spot of tea..."

Sometimes it is stated in question form, such as "Whitny, fancy a spot of tea?"  or it can be stated in the declarative form..."I think I might fancy a spot of tea..."  Or one can utilize the phrase as an answer to a question...

Host:  "Can I offer you anything to drink...coffee, tea, Pellegrino, Red Bull?"

Guest:  "I'd fancy a spot of tea, thank you."

See, it's easy.  But despite the ease with which one can employ this phrase I can honestly say that in all of my years on this planet I have never before either  a) fancied a spot of tea or b) actually said that phrase aloud.  Why?  Because I AM AN AMERICAN.  We don't fancy/enjoy spots of tea.  We chug coffee by the gallon or drink Chai blended with half & half and high fructose corn syrup in 20 ounce disposable containers while we work, shop, sit in traffic and give birth.

But something magical and mysterious happened this week.  My dear friend, the aforementioned Anglophile and one-time roommate Katie, returned from a trip to England this week and brought with her this awesome set which she gifted to me.  Behold...

Royal Albert Tea Set in the "Festival" Pattern (circa. 1950)
(Imagine a host of angels singing at this point)




Obviously this tea set is beautiful...it goes without saying...but it has magical powers too.  Because today, seeing it on my counter, I felt this overwhelming urge to experience my very first mid-afternoon "spot of tea".  In the attic I found a bag of Twining's English Breakfast Tea in the suitcase I took with me to Paris this summer, then I boiled water, got cream (real ultra pasteurized cream) and sugar and a carton of biscotti from the pantry and I went to town.  I made myself mid-afternoon tea and I have to tell you...it was delightful.  Who knew? (Well okay, I suppose maybe half the world at one point figured it out considering that the sun never set on the British Empire)

My first ever "spot of tea"

But I have to admit that something felt strange about it...I couldn't put my finger on exactly what it was until I compared my normal coffee cup to my tea cup.  See if you can spot the difference...

"Spot of Tea" VS. "Cup o' Joe"

I don't think the artwork on my 16 ouncer mug quite compares to the Royal Albert "Festival" pattern...but at least I will never worry that I am drinking from the wrong person's mug and in an emergency I can use it as a lifeboat.

As I enjoyed my spot of tea I even felt a physiological change.  Somehow my posture corrected itself and my demeanor changed and I stopped using contractions and spelling words like color without the u.  I even felt the overwhelming urge to drive on the opposite side of the road and start giving a damn about Prince William and Kate Middleton's engagement...but that urge quickly passed.  Well, once again, see if you can spot the difference...


Sucking copious amounts of extra caffeinated joe from my 16 ounce trough in my high school gym sweatshirt....

Demurely enjoying a spot of a tea...somehow I magically grew a hat , pearls and a pashmina...
Like I said...having my first spot of tea turned out to be amazing!  

Thanks Katie!

I love my tea set!

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