How & where do you like your tea?

Tyne O'Connell in Purple Ballgown on stairs Fortnum & Mason

by ©Tyne O’Connell

Nanny says milk in first, Mummy says Milk in last. The way you drink your tea says more about you than you think. Black Bohea (pronounced boo-hee) as it was known, arrived in Britain, as did many great British Institutions, via the Restoration.

King Charles II’s marriage to Catherine of Braganza brought enormous wealth to the coffers emptied by Cromwell’s Puritanical fist. Tea parties took over from the Coffee Houses as Salons of intellectual discourse and soon flourished in the drawing rooms and bedrooms across the realm. Hosted by women and attended by all, tea parties quickly became the most coveted invite.

The Puritans tried to have tea suppressed such were its associations with Catholicism, liberal thinking generally and the ultimate wickedness of women’s education. But once we had hold of our cups and saucers the English women were not prepared to give them up easily and so the custom of tea drinking embedded itself in British society as quickly as spaniels, tweed, pearls and horse racing. How do you like your Black Bohea (black leaf tea)?

Fortnum Tea

Tyne O’Connell on the hunt for fine loose leafed tea at Fortnum & Mason

How & where do you like your tea?

a) In your favourite Penguin Book Mug.

b) In fine bone china. Whether your tea is served in the form of bag or leaves doesn’t dissemble you but you would be aghast to learn that there are some who drink tea from vessels other than fine bone china.

For the custom of tea drinking is so tightly linked to bone china as to render it a completely different drink when served in an alternative vessel for it is the fine bone china in which the tea is served that unites tea drinkers as a breed. Lord Byron’s favourite black bohea was Earl Grey while Madame De Stael drank Lapsang. Byron drank his tea sweetened with jam while King Charles II shared his tea with his beloved spaniels. For true tea lovers the issue isn’t about milk in first or last its about being part of a long literary salon tradition; for in the hustle bustle of modern living a cup of tea served in delicate fine bone china remains the most soothing and civilising custom of Mayfair Eccentrics everywhere.

c) Milk in first – as Mummy says.

d) Milk In Last – as says Nanny.

e) Lemon – sorry wrong continent choose one of the above.

Where do you like your tea?

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