Copyright 2014, Amelia Garripoli
My first husband ... you know, the one that was supposed to be forever ... let's just call him Bee. I married him for all his wonderful properties. I wanted love, marriage, and a baby carriage. That was us, k-i-s-s-i-n-g in the tree.
I was willing to work for it, too. So when his accounting career didn't work out, he stayed home, and I worked. It was going to be great, right? I figured, with all that time on his hands, there would be a clean house, meals ready, you name it. That was me, the 1950's husband expecting her wife to take care of her.
It didn't quite turn out that way ... Bee wasn't really wife material. He did still do some wonderful things ... a few years with me taught him how to make the perfect cup of tea. And each morning, when I changed jobs and had to get up waaaay before dawn, he would get up first and make me a cup of tea. I tell you, waking up in the morning to welcome that warm cup on the bedside table was wonderful. I still treasure those mornings, they never returned.
Tea. Boil fresh water in a proper tea kettle -- we searched for years to find one like my English grandmother's. Eventually we did, and purchased it. Only to return to England a few years later to find out she had replaced hers with a newer model. Oh, snap.
Buy your tea loose, as good a quality as you can afford. Bags are okay, if you can find the British brands like Ty-Phoo. For a morning mug, put a teaspoon of tea in a large-ish tea brewer so there's room for it to move and expand. Morning tea was always strong black tea -- Keemum, Assam, whatever was hefty and black but otherwise unflavored. Just the tea, ma'am.
Rinse the mug (mugs are okay for breakfast tea, though my grandmother _always_ had a pot, no matter the time of day) with a bit of the just boiled water to warm it up. Put the loaded tea brewer in the mug and pour the boiling water over it. Let it steep for 2 minutes. Remove the brewer.
Now, this is important ... removing the brewer takes out enough room for the milk you need to add for a proper cuppa. We always kept 2% in the house, and you would pour it into the mug until it swirled down and back up again, reaching the top in an arc. Once milk first returned to the top, you had the perfect amount of milk in your tea -- turning it from a dark rich brown to a creamy strong tan color.
Sugar? If you must. Sometimes I was a teaspoon-er, sometimes a half-teaspooner. But that mug eventually became just tea and milk for me.
After we had children, Bee got me a mug one Christmas -- "Queen of all She Surveys" -- a poke at Hyacinth Bouquet from the BBC shows. That was the mug my tea usually showed up in. I didn't realize at the time that it was likely a portent of what was coming down the road.
You see, Bee was my best friend. He knew me as well as I knew myself. My foibles, my limitations, my fears, my hopes. I thought I knew him, too. But too late I realized I'd asked him to be my knight in shining armor, to bottle up his emotions and feelings and be my rock. A job he tried to do, valiantly. But it overwhelmed him.
So one morning the tea stopped. It had been a long time coming. We were arguing constantly. I wanted to stop working and raise our children -- our little girl was barely a toddler, there was still time for me to mother her 24/7, not around a desk job. Bee had some skills to fall back on. But instead, he returned to college for a new degree. Okay, we would get through that. I had bonuses from working saved that we could live on during his studies. But, we didn't get through it.
The tea stopped. I lost my best friend. I lost my 50th wedding anniversary, my forever marriage, my life partner. We fell apart, and there was no mending it. We're divorced now, and I raise our children by myself. They see him 2 times a year since he moved several states away. The internet and their cell phones give them and him the ability to contact each other when they like, so I don't know how much contact they have. I hope it is enough for them. I do know Bee and I are barely civil to each other -- we fell apart so badly that it only takes a few words to reopen those raw feelings.
I make my own tea now.
Copyright 2014, Amelia Garripoli