All true tea lovers not only like their tea strong, but like it a little stronger with each year that passes.
On Saturday mornings I wake up a little past seven, no matter how late I was up on Friday. Get dressed, check the mail, read the news, go upstairs to cook breakfast in a pan of grease. Everything is timed perfectly. The toast is started two minutes before the eggs are broken into the pan, but only after the bacon is done. The tea starts steeping two minutes before that. Everything is ready and warm within 25 minutes.
Dolly gets a treat on the weekend mornings: a bit of Fancy Feast, or half-and-half mixed with water. Cats are lactose intolerant, so they can’t drink straight milk, but they’re drawn the fat that their noses can smell.
Bacon, bread, egg, bacon, bread, egg. I eat my breakfast in order, going clockwise around the plate, but I always save a few sips of tea for the end. Even though I’ve given up the Hong Kong style milk tea, Orange Pekeoe is an appropriate black leaf substitute, rounding out the meal.
It’s a little ritual that keeps me sane. At the end of breakfast, satisfied and full, I can reflect and recharge, down to the dregs.
Every year, as I grow older, I find that I let my tea steep a little longer. Maybe life has gotten a little too complicated, and I need the tea as a distraction, or perhaps life has become too simple, and I need the companionship of a rich mug to stimulate me.
Strange how a teapot can represent at the same time the comforts of solitude and the pleasures of company.
And I’ve never needed this more than I do now.