Any tea

Too bad Kipling didn't have a nearby tea shop like this one in Bar Harbor, Maine, June 2012.

Too bad Kipling didn’t have a nearby tea shop like this one in Bar Harbor, Maine, June 2012.

We had a kettle; we let it leak:
Our not repairing made it worse.
We haven’t had any tea for a week…
The bottom is out of the Universe.

Rudyard Kipling

…and speaking of reasons I love to be in England, I think the top three would be tea, tea and tea.  Of course, one can get delicious tea pretty much anywhere, but my love of tea is most connected to Great Britain.  I was just beginning to have a real taste for it in May 2001, when I had tea at the home of my longtime British pen pal in Essex.  We had been out touring on a cold drizzly day, and our coming in to sit by her fire and drink tea is one of my happiest memories.  I’ve forgotten how many cups I drank (some with cream and sugar, and some without) but I think I was hooked from that point on.

And “hooked” is not too strong a word for it.  I can hardly get through a day without tea, much less a week, so Kipling’s verse made me smile.  I know coffee drinkers who feel the same way about their morning cup, and while I don’t share the same enthusiasm for coffee, it’s beginning to grow on me.  But I doubt that it will ever replace tea in my affections.

What simple pleasure does Kipling’s verse remind you of? What seemingly trivial loss would cause you to declare “the bottom is out of the Universe?”  It’s easy to take the commonplace for granted, until we are without it.  Today, let’s remind each other of all the small blessings woven so tightly into our days that losing them would make us feel everything was unraveling!


  1. Personally, although I’m English, I’m not very keen on tea. It has to be very weak for me to drink it. As for the loss of the smallest things, I’ve always thought it is the little, inconsequential things that tip one over the edge. But then that fits with the old saying of ‘it’s the straw that broke the camel’s back’.

    • I agree completely! The little things do have the power to make or break a day, a week, or ultimately a life. Whenever Matt is in the hospital lots of people ask what they can do. I’ve often answered that we usually get enough support at such times, but what we need most are the people who are with us through the daily trials, joys and troubles of life. We tend to be very good at rallying round people to pull them through crisis, but often when the immediate and urgent situations pass, it’s back to the daily grind which can sometimes bring people to a snapping point.

      It is interesting to know that you’re not keen on tea unless it is weak. Jeff prefers his tea weak (especially when it is iced). A friend of mine used to tease me about the weak tea I made for Jeff. He told friends “Julia makes tea by boiling the water and waving a tea bag in the air over the pot.” 🙂

  2. It’s strange. While I still think “coffee” when I get up in the morning, I have more of a mental “affection” for tea….And I’ve never even been to Great Britan! I prefer tea in the late afternoon/evening.

    • Carla, I am still determined to take you to England someday – you would really love it, I feel certain! I think tea is definitely the more endearing drink, and there is such a huge variety that one need never get bored with it. Having said that, it’s hard to beat good old-fashioned black tea. I am writing this between sips of Trader Joe’s Irish Breakfast tea, mixed with Raspberry flavored green tea. I love tea anytime, but I have to avoid caffeine in the late afternoon and evening if I hope to sleep well.

  3. Trees.

    • Agree.

      • Tomorrow, I will comment using five words. I will expecting a five-word reply 🙂

        • Don’t worry, it will be easy…as Tommy Smothers used to say “words to me are playthings.” I think I have about his level of sophistication, too. BTW, Mom AND Dad always liked you best!!

      • Like.

        • Thanks! 🙂

  4. merry

    Julia, good morning. I do enjoy tea but first in the morning is my coffee. :}

    • Good morning, Merry! You know, I am drinking coffee more often in the mornings. I’m NOT one who awakens easily most mornings, and when I have to get up earlier than usual, I find that it really does make a difference. I still have to make it with chocolate and lots of milk, though! 🙂

  5. I think most Canadians start their day with coffee, but I like the idea of tea and toast, it seems so civilized. The best part about tea is the cup I think. I’ve collected them for years not because I’m huge on tea, I just like all the patterns and colours. They’re like tiny works of art. I’m on my third cup of coffee this morning, then I’m done. I make 4 and save the last one in a carafe for after supper 😀

    If I had to go a day without my iPod music, that would seem like the end of the universe. If I’m crafting, it’s on. If I’m driving, it’s on. If I’m house cleaning, it’s on. Even when I’m shopping, I wear my iPod. I’m always adding new music and sometimes I think it’s amazing how many songs one can know by heart. I’ve read somewhere’s that it’s a good way to learn a new language too, by adding it to music. Apparently it’s easier to learn a new song than a bunch of phrases. Maybe it’s true, who didn’t learn frere Jacques as a child? (or is that just a Canadian thing?)

    • Boomdee, it is totally true, IMO. I can still sing most of the tenor part, in Italian, to “Piu non si Trovano” from helping Matt learn it for choir over ten years ago, despite knowing only about 4-5 other Italian words. It’s even easier if you learn a song in a second language with which you are already familiar in your primary language; I’ve learned most of several French hymns this way– although, to be fair, I do speak a bit of French.

      I love teacups but prefer to drink my tea from a large latte-sized mug. I lose track of how many of these size “cups” I drink in a day, but I would guess it’s somewhere between 5 and 10 most days!

      And yes, my MP3 players are part of my every day. I don’t know whether I could walk my 2-3 miles per day without my unabridged books on tape or, when I’m feeling sluggish, “my tunes” (my younger brother’s circa-1970’s term for the favorite music to which one listens) which in my case is always rock, which I find so energizing. In my youth I spent many hours putting together playlists for various things on 8-track, and later, on cassette. If you had told me then that we would have such easily-assembled, virtually unlimited and far less expensive personal juke boxes full of digitized music in a player the size of a matchbox, that never got scratches or tangles, it would have sounded too good to be true! We really are lucky.

      BTW I and all my classmates memorized Frere Jacques, which I can still sing over 50 years later!

      • Fantastic Choir, thanks for sharing that. According to Google, “Piu non si Trovano” means, “Most do not lie”. Must be a good story behind that one 😀
        I don’t speak a lot of French either. You’d think I would being a Canuck but it’s mostly in eastern Canada. WOW, I didn’t even know you could record an 8-track 😀 You were way advanced to me. It’s so much easier now, kids have no idea. Listen to me sounding ancient, LOL…it’s just everything changed in 10 short years really.

        • My memory of the translation to English is that it began “Seek not for constancy among ten thousand…” I think I still have the music at the York home somewhere, I’ll look for it. The English words were beautiful and helped me remember the Italian ones, since many are similar in sound. My 8-track recorder was a no-brainer; just pop it into the deck and push “record” while the record was playing (and for those who don’t know what a record is, substitute the term “vinyl”). Yes, change is happening at an exponentially fast rate. Who ever guessed that email would be considered to be outmoded by so many so soon?

          • LOL, well how did Google get that translation so mixed up ;)….probably me. I think people call records ‘vinyl’ now to sound hip but I still call them records. I think a few artists are putting them music on ‘vinyl’ for the collector crowd. I sold all of mine when we moved. All to one neighbour for $50 (probably 80 albums)..what a bargain!

            • Boomdee, Google may not have garbled that phrase; often translations take the overall message and try to convey it in words that work with the music; a difficult task! Some of the French hymns I mentioned that were translated from English actually have words with fairly different meanings in some cases, and I usually like what the French says better than the original! I am still working on forcing myself to part with my old records. I actually have the original album of Abbey Road (Beth, if you are reading this, YOU gave it to me!) and I’ve been told not to turn loose of it because it might be valuable, but most of what I have would be worthless to anyone but me. It’s the jackets that are hardest to part with, but I know I’ll never frame them or display them in any way.

              • Hey, according to this site, there are a number of pressings of Abbey Road. The best one (1968) to have is the one without ‘Her Majesty’ on the cover or label…check yours!
                Ellen D was asking people to send in funny album covers at one time. Some were a real scream.

                • I’m pretty sure mine does have “Her Majesty” on the label, because I don’t know how else I would have known the title of the song, although it’s fairly obvious from the very brief lyrics! It’s one of my favorite parts of a really great album; always struck me as very funny. I thought of it when Paul became “Sir Paul” and wondered whether she still didn’t have a lot to say! 🙂

  6. Carolyn

    Morning Julia, Yes I’m a coffee drinker but I love tea in the fall and winter. Coffee in the morning and tea the rest of the day. I like the tea pots on the picture you posted, I collect tea pots and have a cabinet full. Love my pots and have a favorite for making tea in. When we have our 5 year reunion, we will have tea. I have to have decaf. after 4:oo or I can’t sleep. Guess that is part of getting old. Oh, when I was on chemo I didn’t drink coffee for five months, hated the taste. Glad that Jeff got a good report and pray the rest will be good. You all have a great day.

    • Carolyn, how delightful — I had no idea you collected tea pots! I find them to be, along with tea cups, the most attractive pieces of china. I too have to stay away from caffeine in the afternoons. I have a hard enough time turning my brain off and going to bed when I am surrounded by books, crafts, and online friends! I have tried to get Jeff to drink coffee or tea with me in the mornings – it seems as if it would be such a pleasant pastime for us to sip and chat – but he refuses both (though he does enjoy iced tea with meals). He grudgingly drinks green tea each morning now, after I showed him several Medline abstracts documenting its apparent cancer-fighting properties, but he gulps it down because to him it is “like taking medicine” (his words). Maybe in 5 years he will be a bit more mellow, but we can always have pastries on hand in case he is not. Have a great week!

      • Carolyn

        How Jeff feels about green tea is about the same for me. I will drink it but don’t really like it. Jeff’s words brought a smile to my face. Terry can say the same thing about coffee, doesn’t mind the smell but will not drink it. He will drink tea hot or cold , the sweeter the better. Bed time ! Love to all.

        • Carolyn, until recent years I never drank coffee but always LOVED the smell of it. Just smelling it was enough for me. I wish I could manage that same restraint with cinnamon rolls! 🙂

  7. All I can think about when I see this picture is “fixing” the greenish-yellow one on the bottom shelf. His handle isn’t pointing the same direction as everyone else’s. LOL

    • Barb this cracks me up! I had not even noticed that and if someone pointed it out to me, I would have said it made the photo more interesting! 🙂 Maybe it’s a good thing we were not able to arrange a time for you to come to our home while you were in DC! (Just kidding – but let us say, a perfectionist would probably feel a bit uneasy with my housekeeping, such as it is!) Thanks for bringing a smile to my face with this. I have an idea you aren’t the only one who thought that, but probably the only one who will admit it. 🙂

      • That’s funny! My housekeeping skills are much more relaxed than they used to be. I can’t keep up with (nor do I want to) the many people who habitat our place. 😉 So I doubt I would critique your skills.

        • Whew, that’s a relief — as they used to say on The Price is Right, COME ON DOWN! 🙂 Just don’t try to do the dishes; I confess to being slightly OCD about that particular task. We all have our perfectionist idiosyncrasies, it seems.

      • When I was last at your DC hovel, I washed a spoon (by hand), then dried it, and hid it between other properly autoclaved spoons in your silverware drawer. (Ha! Now you have to rewash all of them!!!)

        • I KNEW it! There was something suspicious about that drawer when we got back from the hospital! Well, at least you didn’t empty the dishwasher full of dishes that HADN’T EVEN BEEN RUN YET, which a well-meaning but clueless (about me) friend did “for me” as a “favor” while I was out – “They looked clean to me!” I’m still recovering from that particular trauma…We recently had to buy a new dishwasher, and I asked for one with a “self-destruct” setting that would kick in if anyone tried to empty it without the dishes being washed. Now I get funny looks every time I go into H. H. Gregg.

  8. raynard

    I’m a little tea pot, short and stout. Here is my handle and her is my spout” lol you remember than one? I grew up a tea drinker( lipton) . All those years in the army, I drank coffee once a month. Now only once a day( keep your latte and express and “ice coffee”( remember when it use to wake you up now it puts you to sleep..While in Turkey a shopkeep offered me ” a tiny cup of tea ( with 3 lumps of sugar) I digress Julia do you remember this nursery rhyme ‘Fre’re Jacques, Fre’re Jacques, Sonnez les Matines, Sonnes les Matines, Ding Daing DONG, Ding, daing, dong.. I learned it the french way… ( you can always use a laugh( never got into “Bozo was he related to “Ronald McDonald and do you notice how he hangs out “without a “Posse like he use to back in the day? Guess I “got stuck in “the wayback machine with”Buck Rogers”.. lol Be blessed

    • Raynard, I do remember that song about the tea pot, although I haven’t heard it in years. When I was a kid singing it, little did I ever guess how good a friend that little tea pot would become. Someone explained to us that tea in Turkey was very different than we have here. I love it sweet so I probably would go for the 3 lumps of sugar. I did buy some of the apple tea they have there, which is also sweet. Yes, Boomdee just asked earlier in the comments about the song Frere Jacques which all school kids seem to learn (did you learn it in NYC? if so, that’s a pretty huge geographical spread between Alberta, Canada (Boomdee), Atlanta (me) and the northeast. That song must be a North American institution; how did the French manage that? Did you learn the English words? They are a pretty literal translation to the French words, not that it would be hard to manage that with such a short little ditty. BTW do you remember the Singing Nun who also sang in French? It’s funny how universal some of our childhood experiences are. Bindu wrote earlier about playing a statue game in India much like the one we played as kids. I can’t help but wonder whether kids of today, with the thousands (and even millions) of niche markets in the digital age, will have any such common memories of childhood? Thanks for the memories…beam me back to 2013, Scotty!

      • raynard

        yes I did learn that song growing up in NYC.( now i’m listening to a 80’s song by Sade called “Keep Looking”. There is a line that goes” Dont lay awake at night thinking about your worries”. What did you say the other day? No problem mon. ( now these days people say “no worries”..( just dont add “be happy to that…

        • No worries, Raynard! I won’t add “be happy,” I’ll just stick to your favorite saying, “Be blessed!” 🙂

  9. Sheila

    Julia, no surprise here! I so love sweet iced tea with a slice of lemon. I start my early mornings with a cup of coffee, maybe two. We have recently opted for a coffee maker to replace the k-cups. It’s just nice to wake up to the aroma of a pot of coffee. Hope the Dentons are doing well! I’m so happy for you.

    • I never thought about the fact that k-cups do not create that wonderful aroma. I love the convenience of them, but have resisted the temptation to get a Keurig pot because it seems so wasteful (the word frugal does not begin to describe me :-)) When I saw the re-usable K-cups, I vacillated but then realized it would take quite a bit of time to keep refilling those little cups, and thus one would lose the convenience factor. Now that you mention the aroma factor, I’m much better able to be content with my low-tech little Melita one-mug brewer which is available at Bed Bath & Beyond for just $2.99, or even cheaper if you use one of their ubiquitous 20% off coupons. (No, I am not being paid to say this :-)) Thanks for sharing our joy on the good-news days, as well as our sorrow on the hard days!

  10. Great photo, great quote and great post. I love tea! My father was British so we starting drinking it early. I collect the little tags from tea bags and have over 200 of them from nearly 35 years of tea drinking.

    • Do you save more than one of each style, or only one (meaning 200 different types)? Since I’ve shared with you about my packrat, can’t-throw-anything-away tendencies, you will not be surprised to learn that I have a collection of them, too. The ones from Good Earth actually have quotes on them, some of which have been posted on my fridge for years!

      • I wrote a reply on my phone this morning, but it went south, or north…or somewhere beside here. Technology is not my strong suit this week.

        You are the first person I’ve ‘met’ that shares (and collects) my love of tea-tags. I’ve saved them since I was 18 (I’m now 54). I have tags from around the world and from home. Some of them have dates and places written on the back, and when its an occasion, I ask my companions to sign the tag, too. That’s a tall order for something so tiny but it’s fun, too.

        I thought I wrote a post about this once, but maybe it was just a conversation on facebook. Great fun!

        • Hey, I like that idea of writing the dates, places and sometimes even names on the back – if it’s one that is folded over, it wouldn’t be too hard. I also find it a great relief that I am now not the only one I know who does it. If a professional organizer does it, it MUST be OK, right? 🙂 I keep trying to think of the right craft for mine. I saw a cute idea on Pinterest where someone mod-podged them to the back of a clear clipboard.

          • LOL, Julia! Yes, you have a partner in tea-tag ‘crime’. I love mine. I’ve thought about crafting with them too over the years, but never landing on quite the right thing. I’ve thought of creating a type of shadow box with glass suspended in the middle, but I still like picking them up and sorting through them, almost like a scrapbook. I’ll have to give it more thought. Do you plan to craft with yours?

            • Hee-hee! Let us now turn to Chapter 4875, Volume 97 of Julia’s Exhaustive Encyclopedia of Good Intentions. Seriously, here are a few of the things I plan to do with mine: laminated bookmark(s), mod-podged boxes or tins for tea bags, maybe even using several coats of that super thick embossing powder on them and making them into beads? Not sure if that one would work, but I’ve seen similar things! Also, afix them under those clear little stones for fridge magnets, put them into glass coasters (the sort that hold photos), make a tea collage and photograph it or frame it. Hmmm, maybe I should stop there and actually DO something with them. Right now, all I’ve done with them is set people whispering about whether I’m destined to become an eccentric old lady who saves string and has dozens of cats!!! 🙂

              • That is an impressive list. What an interesting idea turning them into beads. I would have never thought of that.

                I’m already resigned to being the old cat lady…I may have already arrived.

                • I am sure the cats appreciate that! 🙂 I’ll let you know if the bead idea works. I have never used that extra-thick embossing powder but I have seen some impressive things made with it.

  11. Raynard

    Hope I dont sound like my old H.S English teach Miss Goldberg(Mc Beth .. Hated it lol) My bucket list 1 go ot a professional sporting event. 2 to see the Harlem Globetrotter( did that in March.. 3 Visit a few National parks ( Grand Caynon, Yellowstone, Niagra Falls, Mount Rushmore.. 4 Go see the circus. 5 Ballroom dancing( am I the last of the dinasoars and know how to drive a stick shift and still wears a watch on my arm.. I digress lol

    • My bucket list is so long that it can’t be contained in a bucket! If you are going to a professional sporting event I highly recommend baseball, but would avoid the Yankees if possible (boy I just let myself in for a lot of flack with that one! :-)). While you are on the National Parks lists, a couple of ones on this side of the country that I recommend are Smoky Mountains (in Tennessee) and Acadia (in Maine). I have never been to a Circus unless you count Cirque de Soleil, and have never wanted to go to one; for some reason they seem depressing to me. Jeff and I must be dinosaurs too; neither of us drives a stick shift, but we much prefer watches worn on the arm, and remain determined not to get a Smart Phone! 🙂


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