I’ve started drinking hot tea some evenings. Hot tea seems to go well with cold weather. I especially like the Twinings natural peppermint herbal tea. After you’ve steeped it for four minutes– which is what the packet commands — the room is thick with a minty fragrance. Add some milk, and you’ve got a tasty, warming libation the fortifies you against the winter chill.
Drinking hot tea reminds me of my childhood, when Grandma Neal would watch us grandkids and have us drink tea with her in the afternoon. The tea kettle would shriek, the hot water would be poured into the teapot, and as the tea steeped Grandma Neal would set out a small container of milk, honey, a sugar bowl, and a plate of shortbread. We’d make our tea and sit carefully drinking out of china cups on saucers, dunking the shortbread into our cups of milky tea and trying to eat the result without making too much of a mess.
It all seemed very elegant. It was only years later that I realized that Grandma probably used “tea time” to get a rest. If the grandkids were sitting drinking hot tea and eating cookies, that meant they weren’t tearing around her house causing havoc.
We’ve recently come into possession of some old coffee pots and teapots. One is ceramic, one looks like it was taken from a cowboy’s campfire, and one seems to be a metal approximation of frilly lace. My favorite is a vintage, battered copper teapot that has been in Kish’s family for generations — and that looks like it might have inspired the children’s song “I’m a little teapot, short and stout.”
In my view, at least, they’re much more interesting and visually appealing than the bland glass and plastic-topped Mr. Coffee-type pots that you see everywhere these days. They harken back to the days when coffee was brewed in a working pot, and then transferred to a fancier container to serve guests after a nice meal.
One of the many distinctive touches you find at The Greenbrier is tea time.
The tea time concert
Every day at 4 p.m., a pianist sits at the grand piano in the garden room to play a march. Then, uniformed waiters and waitresses come striding into the main lobby to the cadence of the music, carrying silver trays groaning with cookies and sweets. The trays are placed on a large central table in the main lobby, tables with silver canisters of steaming hot tea and iced tea are moved into the room, and the guests descend to enjoy the feast.
In the meantime, the pianist gives a 45-minute concert to all who prefer to take their tea with musical accompaniment. It is quite pleasant indeed to sit in the beautiful garden room with the pianist, sipping tea and milk, nibbling on an almond cookie, and listening to the strains of Beethoven’s Fur Elise or a medley of Disney movie tunes.
Good vacations are made, I think, of little moments like this, where you do something fun and unusual in a distinctive place and then can recall the moment with pleasure after you return to your ordinary routine.