25 September 2008

Tea for two

Karen has asked me to write about the Australian tea tradition. I'm not sure that tradition continues today but this is my version of what it was like in the old days.

Tea used to be a part of most people's days. In Australia, we had a cup of tea with breakfast, often with toast, another cup was had between 10 and 11am for morning tea. Then another cup at lunchtime with a sandwich, another around 3pm, when the children came home from school. And there would always be a pot of tea sitting on the table to be enjoyed with dinner at night.

When I started drinking tea, and I suspect this was a similar scenario around the country, my mum made a little cup of tea for me that was about 20 percent tea and 80 percent milk. I grew up in a family that took their tea without milk so, of course, eventually I drank black tea with no milk. I still do today - I have my tea black with a teaspoon of honey.

Real tea is made from the plant of the camellia sinensis bush. It produces black, white, green and oolong tea. Herbal teas are not teas at all - they're herbal infusions and don't contain the amount of antioxidants that tea does. I make rosella tea from our rosella bushes, and that is more like a herbal tea than real tea.

I prefer loose leaf tea to teabags. Teabags are generally made with inferior tea and don't taste as good as a freshly brewed pot of tea. Tea bags are over packaged too. They are a one cup unit of a paper bag, string, a cardboard tag and, usually, a staple or glue. The box of tea bags is usually a cardboard box wrapped in plastic or cellophane. Loose tea is just a cardboard box with an internal paper bag. I have written about making tea in a previous post which is here.

One of the reasons I like tea is that there is a ritual that goes with it. Instead of just filling a glass and drinking it, you have to slow down, prepare your cups and pot, and wait. Waiting is part of tea making so it suits a simple life well. Hanno and I have incorporated tea drinking into our lives and we almost always stop whatever we are doing at around 10am and I make a pot of tea. When it's poured we take our tea to the front verandah where we sit and talk, while I knit. It's a lovely part of the day that I look forward to. Hanno does too, because if I'm late making morning tea, he comes in and says: "do you want me to make the tea?" :- ) It's like nothing can continue until tea is taken. Neither of us had the luxury of a regular morning tea when we worked so it's become a ritual that we look forward to, and through it, and our talking on the verandah, we have reconnected and grown together towards our older years.



  1. Very sweet! I can just see the two of you sipping and talking.

  2. I can relate to this but with coffee. My husband is Dutch and loves real coffee (I'm Scottish so I'm satisfied with instant). His insistence at stopping EVERYTHING at 10am for his morning coffee used to drive me crazy as I preferred to "get on with it" before I stopped for a break.
    However, now that I am a stay at home mum, I have learned to relax and enjoy that twenty minute break with my small family - coffee and a cookie for my husband and me and raisins for the little ones.
    Sometimes these little rituals ae needed to make us stop and enjoy life instead of just getting on with it.
    Enjoying your blog as always, Rhonda.
    Karen (Scotland)

  3. In my family, it was coffee. But it was served several times a day, and we looked forward to afternoon coffee with my mom and her wheelchair bound sister who lived with us. It was a special part of the day. I have been drinking coffee since I was in about 3rd grade, which is way to early! But the memories of our afternoon coffee with my aunt are priceless. Now that I'm an adult, I drink tea quite often. Like you, no milk and a little honey. I like to make it on Saturday afternoons when my husband is home and we can have a nice, relaxing cup. Our teenage daughter drinks tea with us, but she generally has decaf! It's a Saturday afternoon treat we all enjoy.

  4. I guess I have never thought of tea being a tradition but the way you describe it it is isn't it??

    I too drink my tea black we have a large family so we make two pots of tea in the morning.

    At mid morning I usually have coffee if I am here on my own but if either of the older boys or daisyhusband is home we have another pot of tea. At lunchtime it is always tea then that is it for me too much in the afternoon plays havoc with my system.

    We sometimes have a pot of chinese green tea (which we buy loose leaf from the chinese supermarket the bags ones from the supermarket are "oily" tasting not like real green tea at all) with dinner. Which we all enjoy and it makes a healthy alternative to a glass of wine with dinner.

    So off to get my first cup of tea of the day - daisyhusband already made it before he left for work so I won't have to wait!!

    Have a great day I will think of you and Hanno at 10!


  5. I'm a real tea-drinker too. Tea is an integral part of life where I grew up (northern England) and my Dad still has a cup of tea with his meals. I have to have a cup when I get up and usually have one with me throughout the day. I always try to have one in the evening with my husband as it's a great time to sit and discuss our day.

  6. I find making and drinking tea very soothing. But it is never just "tea"....it is always "a nice cup of tea"!.........as in "Would you like a nice cup of tea?"

    Sparkly in the UK

  7. My wonderful grandpa (passed away several years ago) would always drink real leaf tea. I remember the trouble I got into one day when I was trying to be useful and scrubbed out his teapot until it was clean and shiny! LOLOL! Thanks for the memories!

    My DH drinks a lot of tea, I may see if he would prefer loose leaf tea rather than the bags!

  8. You and Hanno are so lucky to be able to share these small rituals of the day together! I am so happy that you do take the time to enjoy being together. When I drop by to visit my daughter and grandson, Alice always makes tea for me. And sometimes I have people who stop by on Sunday afternoon for tea and whatever I can offer them........Perhaps I will try to make tea for myself in the afternoon. I think it would be a good idea.

  9. My husband and myself love our tea. We are pretty traditional about it. It is tea leaves which is Earl Grey and I make it in the morning for breakfast we have two cups each. I have a large tea pot and I also full the thermos up with it (even though it is not as nice) it is still a pleasure to drink.We have another cuppa at around 10 then at lunchtime and around 3 and another with our dinner. I am looking at mixing the tea with another loose ordinary tea as it has got to become very expensive it costs us around $30.00 per month and if I mix it with something else it will only cost me $19.00 for the month.

  10. Hi RHonda Jean,
    A Lovely post!
    We are black tea drinkers also.
    Its grand resting, relaxing and sippin' a cup a.......
    Hope your wk. is going great!

  11. We are tea drinkers here as well, only loose tea no teabags for us either. I'm always on the lookout for nice teapots at OP shops, garage sales and Trash and treasure markets. Steve and I have tea in the morning. He takes a thermo cup in the car with him on his commute to work. We both drink it black but Steve likes sugar in his. I must say that I do like the first cup out of the pot. This is good as Steve likes his nice and strong.

    We have our first cup with brekky, then at 10.00am I have a coffee, and at 3pm I have an organic green tea. I do try and buy Australian grown tea but this is very hard.

    Have a good day.


  12. I must add that when I was little I remember my Grandpa pouring his tea onto his saucer to cool, this always facinated me. What else facinated me was that I always got in to trouble for trying to copy him.

    Tracie xx

  13. Your morning tea with your husband sounds like such a lovely part of the day! We don't drink a lot of tea - mostly if we're sick :-) We are coffee drinkers and when we're home together we always stop at about 3:30 to have coffee and a little something baked.


  14. I'm a tea drinker too, and love the tradition of it.....like Sparkly, it's always a 'nice cup of tea'

    I start the day very early, on or before sunrise, I foster cats rescued from the pound (animal shelter) and take my first pot to drink in the run with them, they get to socialse that way, and have a cuddle or whatever they want.

    I have a friend who asks me round for a cuppa, and then flits about cleaning and tidying or on the phone, while she drinks her tea....this is not the idea, I always think of tea with friends as the time you sit together and have a good yarn and a catch up.

    I too stop about midmorning and make another pot, and enjoy that in the garden, then when I've collected the little one I mind after school, we share a pot as well...he's been drinking tea with me since he was big enough to hold a cup, it's our special ritual, he won't have tea with anyone else.

    It'll be nice to think of you all this morning, as I have my mid morning cuppa, and to know that there's many like minded tea drinkers enjoying the same lovely ritual together - but apart.

  15. How lovely to read about everyone's tea and coffee drinking. Yet another thing to unite us!

    Kate dear, I forgot to mention in my post that after testing loose tea available at my local IGA - around 15 types - I found King tea suited me best. It's got a full round flavour and it's under $3 for a 250g pack. Coming in a close second was Nerada tea, also under $3, and grown in Australia. I think combining Earl Grey with plain black tea is a good solution.

  16. I love a cup of black tea sweetened with a heaped teaspoon of sugar. I like it nice and sweet. I like Bushells best and Twinings Lady Grey.
    My Mum drinks her black, no sugar and not too strong.
    I remember when my dear Dad used to drink his tea, if he was in a hurry to get going for the day, he would pour it into his saucer so it would cool. Then he would slurp it from the saucer, with Mum tut-tut-tutting in the background about his bad manners. We used to laugh at him!

    Cheers - Julie

  17. while i dont drink tea im actualy allergic to it..tastes like tin to me...im totally with u
    since being home with my kids and before our simple living we always stop for morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea. its the part of the day i love, we sit together and chat about the little things important to them, what we might do in the next part of the day...its like our calm planning time.

  18. Ah, what a beautiful ritual.

  19. I know this is off topic, (I'm really grateful that you previous postings reminded me about enjoying morning and afternoon tea) but I'm still wending my way through the "simplifying" posts comments (just brilliant stuff).

    When I came across Libby's reply (anonymous, Sept 23 at 12.54pm) and she said,
    "...seriously, your blog has really helped me....it has been a great help to get an insight of what it is like..." it brought it home to me that through your generous sharing it is such an inspiration to so many who have had little or no experience of this way of life. Not only the "how to's" and "why's" but also the good feelings that it brings.

    If anything stands out to me about my upbringing it was how infectious enthusiasm could be. If I got to see and feel my parents enjoyment of something they were doing (which didn't happen very often) then I also felt it might be worthwhile to do just because it seemed so good. (Children are especially good at intuitively knowing the difference between fleeting , superficial enjoyment and something genuinely "deep down" satisfying.) That has been one of THE most empowering and motivating forces in my life, so I am grateful for their joys. (It's also how advertising tries to persuade us to buy something, by making us THINK we'll feel better.)

    That has to be the great blessing of you sharing your life with us all. That there's a way of living life that can TRUELY make you feel good, a real gift of life.

    Regards, Marilyn

  20. As for brands of tea we drink the Dilmah ceylon leaf tea with the orange label. With our rainwater it is perfect for us.

    My brother and siset who are a bit older than me planted the first lot of nerada tea plants when we lived in Innisfail so I always have a box of that for me for lunchtime tea but it just isn't strong enough for that first cup of the day!!!

    How lovley to think that in two minutes aswhen I walk out to the verandah to mhave morning tea with my children you will all be sitting somewhere doing the same thing.

    nice chatting with you all


  21. Rhonda,

    It was so very kind of you to post this for me. I really would like to institute this tradition, especially when I have my own family...Americans just simply don't take these necessary breaks, preferring instead to "snack on the go." ugh ... a thing i did myself for many years. I tend to just boil a pot on the stove now and fill my cup ... but i'd love to do it your way and will reference your prior post. One question i did have, though, was generally what time do you turn the lights out at night and wake up each morning? i'm hoping this becomes earlier (to not be a night owl!) as i age ... ; )

    again thanks for being thoughtful and sharing another part of your life. you are always so generous.

  22. Hummmm, I think I shoul maybe start this tea tradition in my home!! I could use the slow down and rest time.



  23. Have been reading your blog for a while now. What can I say I Love It. Oh you talk about everything I love and believe in. You have encouged me to start my own blog today.

  24. Tea time is my favourite part of the day. Before everyone else is awake back into bed with a hot cup and a good book.

  25. That's lovely! Every couple needs something like that to slow them down and reconnect. Hope it continues long from now for you!

  26. Being English I can't do anything until I've had at least one mug of tea in the morning. In England a 'nice cup of tea' is the panacea for all ills, and it certainly always makes me feel better. I usually have Earl Grey in the morning and 'builders' tea in the afternoon / evening, both with milk. Sometimes I have a change and have a Rooibos / Red Bush tea which I do drink sans milk.

  27. Hi Rhonda
    Tea! Well what can I say? Being Cornish tea is part of our heritage, good and strong. My dear hubby brings me the first cup of the day before dawn. Another or two with breakfast and then elevenses, your morning tea. I only have the chance to sit with hubby at weekends, in the garden in summer and often by the open fire in the winter.
    Lunch is another cup and a sandwich,salad etc.
    We don't have tea with our evening meal but have a cup about 7:30 as we sit to relaxe.
    The lady cleaning the tea pot amused me, I remember once going to where my husband worked and cleaning the mens mugs. I got into real trouble as they said they all liked them with an inch of tannin (sp) in the bottom.
    My favourite tea is Asam but hubby like his very weak so I usually have to have go that way.

    Thanks for reminding me to enjoy the moment and stop thinking about What's next?

    Pippa. xx

  28. My parents drank tea with every meal and for afternoon tea. To me it was a really adult thing to do, kids didn't drink tea.

    I still remember my first cup of tea. In my early teens on a visit to an Aunt's in the country, she served me toast with vegemite and a cup of milky tea. It made me feel so grown up I found I preferred less milk. One of my husband's friends used to make me the best cup of tea with the perfect amount of milk. He would add milk to his tea, then take a teaspoon of his tea and put it into mine. Eventually I scrapped the milk completely.

    We drank tea constantly, around 8 cups a day, until a couple of years ago when I decided to break the hold caffiene had over me. I eliminated tea, my main hot drink these days is simply hot water. I still enjoy the odd cup of tea, I go months between cups now.

  29. It was coffee at our home. And we children were weaned from the bottle to the coffee cup-more milk and sugar than coffee! This was long before anyone thought of coffee being bad for you.

    I can remember my father sitting back from a problem he couldn't quite work out, reaching for his cup, seeing it was empty, refilling it and sipping his coffee while he mentally worked out the issue before him. It was how all large problems were worked out, over a cup of coffee.

    In my family now, hot tea has become as much of a tradition with us as the coffee was. When family visits, the pot is put on and treats are set out. And at 2 o'clock each day, I stop what I am doing for my tea break. I am looking forward to the day when my husband will get to share this time with me!

    Thanks for starting my day with another peaceful picture!

  30. This comment has been removed by the author.

  31. I'll try again with a *tiny url* -- Rhonda, I was just saying you might enjoy this old post


    (from your friend in Ohio, USA, trying to pass on the gentle art of tea-drinking!)

  32. we have tea tiem as well..havinf married a british man!

    Tea first thing in the morning while making breakfast, with breakfast and about 11 am. Then at about 2pm when the kiddies go for "quiet time" (I do believe this is the yummiest tea time) then at dinner, and definately in the evening while reading books Hubby and I sip tea.

    Whenever anyone comes over the kettle is turned on, the pot rinsed out and set to warm with hot water out of the tap. Then when the kettle boils we dump out the warming water and make the tea, strong with 3 bags in the pot!

    There is something simply wonderful about bringing the tea service to the table!

  33. oh and we use orange pekoe tetley tea

  34. Rhonda,

    I just love the thought of you both sitting and talking while you drink your tea. A minute to just slow down and to be with each other. The idea that Hanno enjoys it that much just makes me smile:)

    Thank you for sharing:)


  35. Your tea time sounds so lovely, and I'm at work...No tea to be had around here. Now I'll have to wait until late this evening for tea :(

  36. I love the idea of tea time being a ritual. It seems, in our busy working lives, that our family had far too few rituals. Now that Hubby and I are home together each day, as with you and Hanno, the idea of setting aside specific moments of the day to sit and do the same thing each day sounds very appealing to me.

  37. "...Americans just simply don't take these necessary breaks, preferring instead to "snack on the go." ugh ..."

    Karen, darling, you just haven't met the right Americans! :)

    Everyone in my immediate family takes tea at 10 am and 4 pm. I also got my college roommate into the habit, and she's still doing it, all these years later.

  38. Tea is a wonderful ritual. It's one I as raised on and my day would lose its customary sense of contentment without it. Loose leaf black, no sugar thanks!

    Daintree produces lovely Australian tea which is available in loose leaf.

  39. Tea is not such a custom or ritual in the States. But my father would bring my mother a cup every morning, after he let the dogs out.

    I do think more people need to slow down and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee.

  40. Until I broke it I had a little 2 cup tea pot with a strainer in the centre. I used to make my pot of tea to go with my toast in that. Now I just sit the strainer thing in my cup. Real tea leaves is so much nicer than a bag!

    Holidays is where dh and I tend to be more inclined to get the tea pot out though. Because it is then that we have time to stop. Maybe I should encourage him to make a pot for our after-dinner, kids-are-in-bed cuppa!


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