Recently, I experienced three deaths in my family. The loss of loved ones reminds you to consider the frailty of life and the honor of living side by side. As I have pondered life, I have also considered the artful mesh of tea and remembrance. There is something special about pouring a cup of tea and retelling tales of life’s little wonders. My grandparent’s loved to tell a story over and over again. Each time they told it they would laugh and sigh in the same spots. Life was worth living and worth experiencing.
A few weeks ago I flew cross country to visit my last remaining Grandmother. ( I had lost my other grandparents only a month before.) From the airport we went straight to the tearoom. There, over cups of Irish Breakfast tea we laughed, gobbled scones and licked lemon curd off the back of spoons. In that moment the world seemed right. 6 days later my beloved Nana passed away suddenly and that priceless moment in the tearoom will forever be etched on my heart.
Here are some simple ways you might remember a loved one over a cup of tea:
A Memorial Tea Party –
Gather photos, music, jewelry, china and any other memorabilia that represents the life of the one you loved. Take time to pour each guest a cup of tea and discuss your memories and the treasures set before you. Do you remember when that photo was taken? Where do you remember that painting hanging? Was that his or her Mother’s china? Allow the tears to flow and keep filling the teacups, a memorial tea party can stir up emotions as you honor that special someone.
Here is a favorite poem written by Michael Ashby:
A Long Cup Of Tea
Death is too negative for me
So I’ll be popping off
For a long cup of tea
Do splash out
On two bags in the pot
And for my god’s sake
Keep the water hot
Please pick the biggest mug
You can find
Because size really does matter
At this time
I’ll pass on the Lapsang
With that Souchong
And that stuff with bergamot
And stick with my favorite friend
You know the English breakfast blend
Breakfast! thanks for reminding me
There’s just time before I fail
To stand on ceremony
Two rashers of best smoked back
Should keep me smelling sweet
Up the smoke stack
So, mother, put the kettle on for me
It’s time, mother, for my long cup of tea
Consider a simple table fare:
Traditional Funeral Pie:
Pastry for two-crust pie
2 cups raisins
2 cups water
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 pinch salt
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a pan with half the pastry and chill.
Place the raisins and 2/3 cup of the water in a heavy-bottom saucepan and heat over medium heat for 5 minutes.
Combine the sugars, cornstarch, spices and salt into a bowl and, mixing all the time, slowly add the remaining 1 1/3 cups water. Add this mixture to the heating raisins. Cook and stir this until the mixture begins to bubble. Add the vinegar and butter, and heat until the butter is melted, stirring it in. Cool until just warm. Pour into the prepared shell and top with the second crust.
Bake for 25 minutes or until golden. Cool.
** If raisins aren’t your thing consider using apples instead!**
Hearty Tea – Irish Breakfast or Scottish Breakfast.
The bracing strength of an Irish or Scottish breakfast tea pairs well with funeral pie and it adds strength to the atmosphere. Feel free to serve this with or without sugar and milk. You may also want to consider serving coffee or a decaf tea along side the pot of tea.
Brie pairs well with apples, raisins and a hearty tea. Offer a variety or water crackers and perhaps a bit of apricot jam.