Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A storm in a teacup

I always have the weirdest musings when I sit down alone for tea. I was drinking another glorious tea blend from Murchies called “The Emperor’s Bride” today when I started wondering about blue. Why, when someone got married, they needed to wear blue? What if they didn’t wear blue? What if their clothing was all new, or all old? Where did this superstition come from, and isn’t it silly enough for us to ignore? And yet, most brides won’t walk the aisle without these good luck charms. But these superstitions aren’t restricted simply to brides, or the play-offs. For in my hot cup of tea, there were bubbles. When there are bubbles in your tea, it means money. It wasn’t soon after that I left to go to my shift at work. Nobody said I’d get the money for free, did they? So I thought about superstition and rituals, and went hunting for ones relating to tea. I found some, and thought for everyone’s sake I better share them.
So I present to you a guide to surviving tea without causing yourself (or others) unhappiness. Now lets educate the reader (you) by going through a normal tea party scenario.

Imagine, if you will, that you’ve invited four ladies over for tea: Phyllis, Betsy, Dolores, and Chen. Alright, let’s start with the making of the tea. You’ve got a pot ready to go, full of loose tea leaves. You take a peek inside, just to make sure it is steeped to your standards. You can’t really tell, and you take your spoon to give it a stir...STOP! Don’t you know that stirring the leaves before you’ve begun pouring is bad luck? Clearly you do not. At least there is tea in there, the lack of would mean a coming misfortune, and that doesn’t exactly sound pleasant.

Okay, let’s just pour the tea, shall we? That’s right, just pour for yourself, and then fill the cups of others. Good, now sit down for a nice cup of tea and sympathy with your guests. Did you notice Phyllis's cup is getting empty? It is now nearly down to the very bottom! She’s reaching for the pot, and she’s about to pour herself another cup OH GOOD HEAVENS SOMEONE STOP HER. It is bad luck for two people to pour out of the same pot! We stopped a near calamity. Worse, that lady would have most certainly become pregnant. Oh, why yes, once the hostess has poured the first cup, then only she can serve without the risk of getting knocked up, perhaps even with twins. That would have been a travesty, considering Phyllis is in her late 80’s. But what, you may ask, if it was a man who serves himself? Why then the hostess and the man will be fated to knock boots and she’ll get pregnant. Better to not invite men to tea parties, I would think.

Now, what if the hostess is slow, and the guests are parched? She sets the ready pot down before her guests as she then attends to some finger sandwiches. The guests eye each other, and Dolores sets out a tentative hand to reach for the pot. Her fingers stretch and curl around the handle, except it isn’t the handle she grips. She finds her hand gripped upon Chen's (oh no!) for she had also reached out for the pot! The results of this are unavoidable; one of you will become pregnant. Worse, it isn’t just one babe that will pop out, but two, and they will be red headed. Though some people would love a set of Weasly twins today (though perhaps not Dolores), centuries ago people had thought (for some silly reason) that this was an appalling possibility. Of course if Chen is the lady who ends up with the red headed twins, she will definitely have some explaining to do to her husband.

Alright ladies, now know to keep our hands to ourselves? Well, the ladies still have hot cups of tea in front of them, and Betsy notices the bubbles in her cup. They float in the middle of the cup, which tell us that she will be coming into money shortly (wasn’t Betsy just talking taking insurance out on her husband?) If they are near the side of the cup, like they are for Phyllis, it means she will be getting kisses. Seems Phyllis is quite the popular lady in her nursing home.

Now Dolores, having left her teaspoon in the sugar (this is why we never invite her anywhere), looks around for something to stir her tea and grabs a butter knife. OH! The unluckiness that will befall her if she stirs her tea with anything other than a spoon!
Betsy stops her and a good thing too!
What terrible things could have happe…HEAVENS TO BESTY! Did she just stir Dolores’s tea with her own spoon! Oh how terrible! Dolores’s tea is now stirred, but at what cost!? She has just stirred up strife and disorder in Dolores’s life. Oh the misery that will undoubtedly befall her! We certainly won’t be inviting Betsy over for tea again. Well, at least a bit of tea was spilled during that calamitous stirring: for it is a lucky omen for the woman of the house (us) though it won’t help Dolores one little bit.

There! Do you feel ready and confident in safely holding your own tea gatherings? No, I wouldn’t be either. For everyone’s sake, let’s just keep the party down to one, and enjoy some quiet thinking time with our tea. That is, unless you’ve left the lid off the pot as that means a stranger will soon come calling – and you’ll have the whole tea ordeal all over again.

The Emperor’s Bride is a delightful blend of black tea, thistle, orange and pineapple. It isn’t lively, but smooth and flavourful. Available online, or in store.

FYI, if anyone is interested where I got these superstitions, they are from the Oxford Dictionary of Superstitions.