Tea and the art of gratitude
I can safely predict there will be a spike in tea consumption on Sunday 14th May. Countless mothers from over 80 countries around the world will be served a cup of tea in bed, or in a conservatory or parlour or garden. Countless mothers around the world will feel appreciated, just for a moment, when their children make tea on Mother’s Day. So easy. A cup of tea will say it for you. (Unless your mother is coffee-total of course.)
Better still, why not gift mum a whole packet of tea on Mother’s Day! The object is to choose a tea you think your mother might like. Does she like chocolate? Or is she a fruitarian? Perhaps coconut is her weakness. Roses? Is your mother adventurous or cautious? There is a tea for that. Take a look at Higher Tea or Stir Tea or dash to an up-market supermarket to loiter in the tea aisle. And look at the blooming tea! Isn’t it beautiful – not to mention remarkable.
I also predict that tearooms will be in high demand this Mother’s Day. Just as tearooms once were when they were as plentiful as town halls.
“There are more charming photographs of tearooms in New Zealand’s research libraries than you can poke a teaspoon at.”
– Susette Goldsmith –
Since the 1990’s most tearooms have been replaced by cafes.
High tea, or afternoon tea, with its practiced table manners, Sunday-best attire and mannerly ritual is, I suspect, more about the ceremony than the tea itself. Although in saying this, high tea people always, always serve quality tea. This is precisely what I am after when I visit Angela at Port O Call.
Located in Ahuriri, a popular seaside suburb in Napier, Port O Call has done it’s bit to keep up the tradition of afternoon tea, even as tea’s street-cred declined. At Port O Call they have always preferred real tea leaves and you get a decent sized teapot and sip from china teacups – patrons may choose their own tea equipage.
“Afternoon tea in an uptown department store tearoom has an allure – especially when you are a child – that can never be replicated at home.” – Susette Goldsmith –
Precisely because the high tea experience is about dressing up, little girls love Port O Call. It is the perfect venue for emerging young ladies. Funnily enough Port O Call is also the perfect place to take tea with your mother on Mother’s Day. To Angela afternoon tea is an art form and she is the artist, her shop the canvas. Most of the tea (and coffee) Angela purchases from Tea and Coffee Lovers Ltd.
I like Port O Call because Angela actually wants to know how I like my tea. She doesn’t just mean ‘with or without milk’ either. I tell her I like my tea with a bit of colour to it and she knows exactly what I mean. She also tells me many of her teacups have been gifted to her over the years by people who love her tearooms and gift store. There have been a few breakages. ‘To be expected’, Angela says. I like the small details: the House and Garden magazine left lying on a table; the flowers (grown by Angela) and the food. All the same I go to Port O Call for the good tea rather than the traditional British tea experience.
While I sip, Angela potters about, arranging flowers and talking with customers as she serves more tea and coffee. Port O Call, I think to myself, is the sort of tearoom where I might find a writer finishing his or her novel – or at least a letter.
Have fun with tea is my advice. And tell stories.