Cup Of Tea?

Entry by: Alobear

20th January 2015
Cup of Tea?

I contemplated my teapot in its new pride of place atop the bookcase in my living room. It was a truly beautiful object – a Christmas gift from the mother, who had outdone herself with only the request for a ‘cool teapot’ on my Christmas list to work from. Squat and round, it was cast iron, with an elegant, arching handle and a ripple effect worked all down the sides. The teapot, and its tiny matching cups, were decorated with an exquisite dragonfly pattern in deep purple enamel, the saucers each sporting a leafy bamboo motif.

I had read on the information leaflet that came with the gift box that cast iron teapots symbolize the everlasting strength and unity of the world. Such a prestigious item could not be used to brew ordinary tea, I decided. It was time for a trip to Waitrose.

The small supermarket at the base of my apartment building did not disappoint. On approached the tea aisle, my eye was immediately drawn to a series of very sophisticated-looking packages, set apart from the usual boxes of mundane tea. These proclaimed their flavours in flowing script, the letters embraced by swirls of flowers. They contained just twelve tea ‘pyramids’ each and were four times as expensive as the boxes of twenty-four, which showed they must be special.

I selected Apple and Elderflower Green Tea as it proclaimed, “East meets West with deliciously delicate, Oriental Green Tea, infusing with the quintessential orchard flavours for a light and refreshing taste. This seemed perfect for my Western self using my Eastern teapot for the first time.

I carried my purchase reverently back up to the flat and I boiled a kettle immediately, then perused the packet for any special instructions. It suggested that the perfect cup of tea was easily possible through simply adding hot water to the teabags and leaving for one to two minutes. That seemed simple enough even for me. I duly place three of the pyramids in the teapot and added the boiling water from the kettle, placing the lid carefully on top and transporting the whole pot back into the living room.

After the requisite two minutes, I poured some tea into one of the accompanying cups and closed my eyes in delight at the wonderfully rich aroma that was produced.

There was a fanfare, as if from tiny silver trumpets, and my eyes flew open just in time to see a diminutive figure materialise on the coffee table in a cloud of glitter. She was about six inches tall and wore a gown of fluttering tea leaves, with an inverted jasmine blossom perched atop her head. Gossamer wings fluttered at her shoulders and she held a miniature tea strainer in one hand.

This, she flourished in my direction, and announced, “Greetings, mortal! I am Chai Latte, the Green Tea Fairy and I am here to document the making of a perfect cup of tea by your fair hand!”

I goggled at her for a moment, then heard my voice saying, without consulting my brain, “If you’re a tea fairy, how come you’re named after a type of coffee?”

She glowered at me and replied imperiously, “The coffee was named after me, if you must know. But the whole thing was a terrible misunderstanding and I’ll thank you not to mention it again.”

She recovered her composure, stood tall (well, as tall as she could at six inches high) and flourished her strainer again.

“Your name will be recorded in the annals of the Green Tea Hall of Fame for all eternity, alongside such great green tea brewers as Thomas Twinings and Walter Whittard!”

“Who knew the founders of two of the most famous tea manufacturers in the UK were so alliterative?” I giggled.

The fairy scowled at me again.

“Such irreverence!” she scolded. “One would think that a mere University Complaints Officer would have more respect. Can’t you just accept the honour and have done with it?”

I felt a bit bad at this, considering she had come all this way to praise my tea-making.

“Please accept my apologies,” I said formally. “I am afraid I cannot take credit for making the perfect cup of tea, since I think it was mostly owing to the wondrous nature of both the pot and the tea itself. However, I thank you for your kindness and wish you a pleasant journey back to Faerie.”

She looked somewhat mollified, gave me a bow and then disappeared in another swirl of glitter.

I blinked and looked down at my teacup, which was still steaming gently. I couldn’t have been asleep too long, then, if the tea was still hot. I raised it to my lips and took a first taste. It really was quite perfect.

It was only later, as I was carefully washing up the teapot, that I noticed bits of glitter caught in the ridges of the enamel.