A Little Brown Betty

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“For the custom of afternoon tea, we have a peckish English duchess to thank. In the early nineteenth century, Anna, the Duchess of Bedford, experienced a ‘sinking feeling’ at about four, several hours before dinnertime. Not wishing to bestir her staff, she requested just a cup of tea with a slice of cake. Soon friends were joining her for this late afternoon delight, and the ritual spread, becoming an elaborate social gathering well sweetened with jam tarts, pastries, and even little sandwiches. Today, as the afternoon sun slants, we might well raise a cup to the hungry Duchess.”

From Victoria’s “The Pleasures of Tea”


Brown Betty Teapot, Sadler England

Memories of Afternoon Tea With My Daughter

My daughter Andrea and I have many, many memories of pausing for the daily ‘tea experience.’ It all started with a job I landed at a White Bear Lake tearoom…and later with a little Brown Betty teapot that lived in the kitchen cupboard of our apartment.  When Andie was just five I would go up to the bus stop every afternoon and wait to see her emerge from her school bus. Many times she’d ask before we reached our door, “Mom, what’s for tea?” She would always have fun choosing the perfect teacup for the day…a tradition that lives on to this day! And I’d take the Brown Betty down from her shelf.  Sometimes we sat at our little cafe style table in our dining room and talked about our day while sipping China Rosepetal from what Andie use to call ‘fancy’ cups. We’d discuss what had happened at school, or what I’d been writing about… and most of the time we’d share a snack… Chocolate chip shortbread was our favorite. Other days we’d take diner mugs of PG Tips to the living room, armed with tea trays and cucumber sandwiches and scones so we could re-watch our favorite…Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea on VHS.

After we moved to Red Wing we hosted many more after school tea parties. Andie even asked her friends over for tea. We have some great shots with her and a couple friends in full ‘dress up’ garb and hats!

Nowdays, fifteen years later, the little Brown Betty lives in Andie’s apartment cupboard and she uses it to make tea for me when I visit. But happily,  she still waltzes through my front door, almost daily, asking if there’s tea. Sometimes we take the time to make a pot of looseleaf Harney, other times we’re in the mood for iced sun tea. But no matter the tea variety, I am so pleased that my girl still likes to have tea with her mom. I love that teatime makes the sovereign statement: This part of the day is about us.

Andie and Gracie were both guests at my recent birthday tea party. The day after the party Grace asked if we still had any of ‘that rose tea’ left. I made a pot and we sat down at the dining room table. She looked up at me after the first sip and said, “Mom! This is SO good!” I smiled in agreement. Looks like I have another tea convert. YAY!

I think it’s important to cultivate special, relaxing time with our kids. In this fast paced world where everything is video games and television and running here and there for this or that sport…I think it’s important to take time to just be. I think that when our children see us sitting at the table with a classic novel and a cup of tea it conveys a message. That message is stop. Stop what your doing for four minutes, wait for the tea to steep and tell me about your day. Stop and breathe. Breathe in this moment. Tea is more than a beverage. It’s a meditation. It certainly says a lot more to your kids than blazing through the McDonald’s drive through. Just a thought. What are you doing with your children that will create lasting memories? Dust off the tea pot. Unearth the heirlooms great grandma or your favorite aunt left to you…Grams and Auntie had the right idea. Abandon the sofa and the remote control for the front porch, a fine china teacup and a sunset you’ll remember forever…

Put on the kettle! It’s time for tea!


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