My mom got me started drinking tea when I was quite small. I was probably eight or nine when I learned to enjoy a hot cup of tea. "Tea parties" with dolls and (when I was very young, two to four or so) with Daddy were fun play-time activities, but it wasn't till I was older that I realized the lovely possibilities for other happy times that tea holds.
Pretend tea parties turned into real ones with my girl-friends down the street, two sisters who had a knack for baking. We'd all make sweet treats and I set the table with the fancy china, tablecloth and linen napkins, and we used my mother's pretty tea cozy: large straw cylinder with a space inside that exactly fit the teapot that came with it, lined with pretty fabric and stuffed with some insulating material. (Go to this site to see exactly what my mom's tea cozy looks like on the outside. This site shows kind of what it looks like on the inside. It's quite brilliant, and keeps the tea hot for quite a long time--warm for nearly 12 hours!)
Then, in high school, tea parties took an even more mature turn with my tea and Jane Austen-loving friends. We would play "big girl dress-up" with fancy dresses that J's grandmother, a talented seamstress, had made, eat fancy and delicious snacks, and choose from J's big collection of tea.
When I started college I was given a hot pot, several new mugs, and several boxes of tea by dear friends who knew how important that was. I enjoyed cups quite often while studying in my dorm room, or with a friend or a few.
Now my husband and I will often drink tea together with breakfast, or during a cool evening while watching a movie and doing homework.
Tea has been the center of gatherings for my mom, me, and many friends, and tea parties with different people are among my happiest memories.
But tea isn't the only lovely hot drink there is! In the fall and winter, spiced hot apple cider is one of my favorite tastes and smells. I'm drinking a tea right now that tastes like Christmas: "Market Spice" by Simple Graces. (I looked for this tea company online but couldn't find it...I'm wondering just how old this tea is! Oh well, it still tastes amazing. :) ) A good hot chocolate, either from a high-quality mix (my mom makes a homemade mix; I'll share a recipe for it later this fall!) or made from scratch, is a treat that is unmatched in the winter. And then there is coffee, of which I am not a connoisseur but which I enjoy very much. My dad drinks Gevalia but I am quite happy with Maxwell House or the like. In lieu of hazelnut coffee creamer (my very favorite), I like putting some brown sugar and milk in my coffee. Also, I discovered this recipe for iced coffee on Pioneer Woman the other day, and I am making it very soon!
While other hot drinks are wonderful, and suited to their own occasions, tea is good all the time and there are so many kinds, tea suits itself to all tastes and seasons.
My mom's favorite tea, and one of the few that Joshua will drink, is Earl Grey. Bigelow's is my favorite. Actually, all of the tea that they make is high-quality and delicious!
Green tea with honey and lemon is refreshing and healthy-feeling. Peppermint is extremely refreshing, very Christmassy, and excellent all year for soothing the tummy. Chamomile has been one of my favorites for a long time, and especially with a little honey tastes wonderful and is very soothing. Plain black tea--especially a good one like English Breakfast--with cream and sugar is perfect for breakfast or teatime with some scones.
And then there are all the fruity-flavored teas, and the different herbal teas. I haven't had it yet, but I've heard that Red Raspberry Leaf tea is one of the best natural supplements for pregnant women--I plan on getting a lot of it someday! :) My favorite fruity tea is peach--so yummy. I'm also fond of lemon teas, which are wonderful iced.
Until I started writing this, I never knew to what raptures I could go about tea and other hot liquids that are drunk from a mug! Tea really has been a recurring, happy theme in my life...I hope it continues to be so. And I hope I've made you want some right this minute--go put the kettle on!