Tea With My Aunts

This evening choir ran short, since no one had a list of the hymns and the anthem was both straightforward and familiar. To that end we returned home, made a cup of today’s Advent tea and listened to a podcast cheerfully dissect a favourite TV show -just to make sure we weren’t the only people on earth for whom that constituted a hobby. The tea was a white tea, ginger and pear, and although we associate pears with sunnier weather, the ginger rendered it suitably wintery. We’ve never encountered a white tea we disliked, and this was no exception. Being lighter to start with, they seem to adapt more readily to being flavoured, than say, green tea.

We also finally got around to sampling a bit of the St Nicolas Day tea, which purported to taste of apple cider. In fact it does, but possibly the sweetest apple cider we’ve ever had. That could have done with having a green tea underneath to cut the sweetness. We say that not out of any kind of expertise, but because the Advent Calendar issuer once kept us in what we called Crumble Tea and they called Mom’s Apple Pie, and it was the cousin to this cider-inspired infusion. Green tea, cinnamon and something apple-tasting, and it was apple crumble in a cup. Ideal for a winter night. We keep sampling its tea inheritors, and though some have come close, nothing is nearly as good -but then, none of them was also a green tea.

After that dictate on how people who know how to make tea should be making tea, have a poem in which everything is in it’s proper place.

Tea With My Aunts 

John Arlott

Tea with my aunts at half-past four,

Tea in a world without a war;

The widow-queen is still alive

In Grampa’s house at Albert Drive,

And firm the monkey-puzzle tree

He planted at the Jubilee.

A frilly, fragile cup of tea

Unsafely balanced on my knee,

Aunt Anna mellows as I take

Another slice of home-made cake,

She rustles in her stiff grey gown

And takes her endless knitting down.

A chastely ringed and blue veined hand,

A weak white neck in velvet band,

With modest touch aunt Susan plays

The tranquil ‘Sheep May Safely Graze’

Of Bach, the tune she used to play

On Sunday evenings years away,

To whiskered men of gentle sort

Who paid her strained and stately court.

The Landseer cattle in the hall,

The massey antlers on the wall,

The monumental two-year clock,

A faith in class as firm as rock,

And all the house are just the same

As on the day the family came,

Firm barred against the new and strange

And devil-prompted thoughts of change.

The gilt-edged shares will never drop,

But yearly yield a steady crop

To feed a world of certain grace,

Where servants knew their proper place.

The bombs that broke the windows here

Have not destroyed the atmosphere.

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