When I lived in England as a pre-teen, our very American family didn't have tea, but our English neighbors did.
Annabel was the mother of that neighboring family; to us, she epitomized gracious English womanhood. She had a kind heart, gardened beautifully, and served her children tea when they came home hungry from school.
Sometimes, we happened to be there when Annabel served tea. Of course, she offered it to us. It was not a fancy, formal affair, as Americans tend to think of "tea," in quotation marks. Instead, it was a little snack, a comfort, a time of relaxation in mid-afternoon. I remember Annabel serving her daughter beans on toast, though tea could also include a pastry or a muffin.
My daughter and I have now decided to have tea every day at three o'clock.
We will use the plates my parents bought in England. Our teacups are the Tiffany Holiday pattern that usually sits lovely and untouched in our china cabinet.
My husband accidentally bought a demitasse cup in the Tiffany pattern when he intended to buy a full-size teacup. That happy accident means that my daughter has a teacup that is just the right size for her little hands.
For our first tea, we had toast cut into little triangles and spread with jam.
I made green tea in a real teakettle that whistled and steamed when it was ready.
We stirred the sugar into our tea and savored our little meal. We talked, and we relaxed. enjoying the moment without hurry. Tea can do that.
It took only ten minutes, but I felt as if our tea created a space in our day that was free and gracious, like Annabel's teatime, like Annabel's garden of wildflowers.
I've found a new way to slow life down, and I'm going to hang on to this one.