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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  8 comments for “A Little Brown Betty

  1. Sandy Erdman
    June 17, 2010 at 8:18 am

    My sister-in-law has 85 tea pots and that may tell you that she enjoys tea. How many tea pots do you have? I am going to do an article and would love to see and hear from others, too.

  2. June 17, 2010 at 8:21 am

    I have about 5 🙂 Not quite as impressive as the teacup collection.

  3. Drea
    June 17, 2010 at 11:09 am

    Yes there are lots of memories 🙂 i’m still waiting for our sun tea to finish lol

  4. June 17, 2010 at 11:15 am

    Oh! The sun tea! almost forgot…let’s have some! 😉

  5. Chantelle
    August 2, 2011 at 11:11 am

    That’s so great to have those memories and to know that many more are likely on the way! I couldn’t agree more about the time with the kids, and I’m so glad you get to share your love, enjoyment, and knowledge of tea with your gorgeous daughters….would love to see those pics of Miss Andie. 🙂
    And your teacup collection is quite impressive. 🙂 I love that Andie has the tea pot now and can enjoy it, and hopefully soon be able to start sharing these memories with her little Madeline. 🙂
    Thanks for sharing another beautiful glimpse of your family with us.

  6. Melissa
    August 2, 2011 at 11:28 am

    XO Chantelle 🙂

  7. Rebecca Walker
    May 19, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    I love the story, and the memories you hold dear around the tea tradition. As the mother of two–very different–boys it was and is harder to find common interests. I have had special traditions with each of them. I read out loud to my oldest at bedtime until he was 14, believe it or not, all of the Lord of the Rings and right up to the last Harry Potter. It could be exhausting because he loved that I would do all the different voices and accents. My younger son has always loved field trips, and he and I have been to the Nature Museum umpteen times. And we always have had family dinner time, even though my 17 year-old now rebels at such a “ridiculous” concept. I agree that these are very important times, and our kids will cherish them someday. 🙂

    • Melissa
      May 19, 2012 at 12:57 pm

      Hi Rebecca! I love hearing how other parents create traditions with their children. I think it’s awesome that you read all of those (very good) books with your oldest son. How cool. My husband and I started the tradition of reading to each other early on in our relationship, and I think it’s a great way to share time with someone you love. The nature museum is great too! Does your younger son like to garden? (another fun activity if the kiddos are into it.) 😉 My daughter Gracie likes small garden projects, and a couple years ago we planted a pizza garden. Thanks so much for sharing your traditions with me. SO inspiring! xo

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