Public holiday today....perfect for sitting down with a great book and a cup of tea George Orwell style. Came across this article written by he of Animal Farm, Nineteen Eighty-Four and the rest, published in the Evening Standard, 12 January 1946: A Nice Cup of Tea.
As a confirmed herbal tea drinker, Orwell's advice should come in handy next time I'm called upon to make a cuppa for the discerning and traditional drinker...
His rules and rites of serving tea made me think of Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde, a man who frequently used tea ceremonies as a battleground for serious frivolity. Take this scene from The Importance of Being Ernest...:
Cecily: May I offer you some tea, Miss Fairfax?
Gwendolyn [With elaborate politeness]: Thank you. [Aside.] Detestable girl! But I require tea!
Cecily [Sweetly]: Sugar?
Gwendolyn [Superciliously]: No thank you. Sugar is not fashionable any more.
[Cecily looks angrily at her, takes up the tongs and puts four lumps of sugar into the cup.]
Cecily [Severely]: Cake or bread and butter?
Gwendolyn [In a bored manner]: Bread and butter, please. Cake is rarely seen at the best houses nowadays.
Cecily [Cuts a very large slice of cake and puts it on the tray]: Hand that to Miss Fairfax.
Merriman and the footman serve and leave. Gwendolyn drinks the tea and makes a grimace. Puts down the cup at once, reaches out her hand to the bread and butter, looks at it, and finds it is cake. Rises in indignation.
Gwendolyn: You have filled my tea with lumps of sugar, and though I asked most distinctly for bread and butter, you have given me cake. I am known for the gentleness of my disposition, and the extraordinary sweetness of my nature, but I warn you, Miss Cardew, you may go too far.
Cecily [Rising]: To save my poor, innocent trusting boy from the machinations of any other girl there are no lengths to which I would not go.