So I ordered the fancy-ass Tazo London Fog Tea Latte at Starbucks - because a man has to have something to help the petite vanilla bean scones go down. It cost over $3. And when I started to drink it, I got this Proustian feeling. Starbucks have discovered the old cup of cha that my mother reared me and my siblings on. The same strange blend of hot water and milk and sugar; the same black tea steeped a little too long; the same impact on the nose and lungs on a cold damp evening. All that's missing is that ritual: the English zen of making the tea.
My mum (yes, I have to use the English spelling) made around 10 of these a day. We were either drinking tea or the kettle was boiling. If my parents were having a fight, the kids upstairs listening to the uproar would wait until we heard the voices fade and then the all-clear siren: the sound of the water being drawn and the kettle being readied. When I told my poor mother I was a homosexual, it was her first impulse: "Oh my God, I'd better make a cup of tea."
My poor mum. Funny how a cup of tea reminds me how much I love her.