The following stories were submitted to Tea & Me by the wonderful patrons and staff at Gympie Library. Chrissi
Janice van der Molen's trio set, Gympie, Queensland
My cup, saucer and plate were purchased here in Gympie, along with a few other sets, either at Vinnies or the markets after I moved down from Darwin in 1998. I am sure they would have a history attached to them. Janice van der Molen
An Unusual Afternoon Tea.
Our section Head invited myself and four work mates for afternoon tea at her home. We were hesitant in going as she was not very popular. Nethertheless we accepted and duly turned up at her home inDarwinon a hot, dry afternoon. We all arrived at the same time with comments such as—”I am dying for a long cold drink”, another— “I would like a coffee”. Our hostess greeted us and we were ushered into a large room where the dining table was already set with a lovely table cloth, delicate china cups, saucers and crystal glasses. When seated our hostess poured cold water with a slice of lemon into crystal glasses, very acceptable. Two of us were asked to help bring in the plates laden with dainty sandwiches, a chocolate torte, little tartlets and a platter of fruit. We were told to help ourselves while our Hostess made the tea, “a very different TEA” she remarked as she disappeared to the kitchen, returning with a very large red teapot. Pouring into the dainty china cups, she suggested we sip first and if we wanted sweetness to not add sugar, but the honey from the dainty glass jugs on the table. “Quite a few of our guests enjoy this tea on a hot day”, remarked our Head. I must admit we were all rather hesitant at first as to what may have been added to the tea pot! I sipped, the flavor had a citrus taste, honey was added and it was then enjoyable (I have a sweet tooth). We all agreed that even on a hot day it was refreshing. Then, after the second one with laughter and jokes on what the flavor was, our Hostess told us she had put COINTREAU into the tea pot, but she assured us that we would all be fine to drive home later. I did again try serving Cointreau Tea to friends, but they remarked that would rather have “Normal Tea”. Janice van der Molen
Janette Wilson's cup from Amsterdam
Travelling Tea Story
Wandering the cobbled streets of Amsterdam eating hot chips with mayonnaise, would really have loved a mug of Australian tea. Before us was a small truck with a crane moving a piano through a double door on the third floor of an apartment block. Amazing, no staircase to carry it up. Then I realised all the buildings in Amsterdam had a hook at the top for just this purpose, and this was the face of “moving” in Amsterdam. I came across my cup just after watching this, it has all the distinct and different houses that line the canals. In Amsterdam some houses and buildings lean a little, but my cup isn’t like this, my houses all appear straight and tall. I purchased it to remind me of a wonderful holiday in 2007 when we visited our daughter, Alison and because I still wanted that cup of tea. Jeanette Wilson
David Wilson's cups from Vietnam
Purchased in Hanoiin 2008 my cup is a twin. The first cup has a pictorial display of labourers making pottery in Vietnam, the second shows the artisan completing the work – the second cup is the one that I prefer. The thought of the creative effort is always very appealing, but the labouring cup is always available when I have misplaced my cup. As there is a degree of labour with all things creative this seems to be very appropriate. I like my tea black, though not too strong. David Wilson
Rachel Letham's trio set
My earliest Tea Memory is of Grandma drinking tea from a teapot when we went to visit her on a Saturday afternoon. As no-one at home ever drank tea, I used to find the tea being poured out of a teapot very intriguing (all steam rising from the pot made it all seem a bit dangerous). Grandma used to always make my sister and I a spider drink, whilst she sat and drank her cuppa. The teacup set pictured here is over 77 years old and belonged to my Grandmother Beryl Wilson. It is made of Fine Bone BellChinaand is pattern number 34472. Rachel Lethem
A day of “Cuppa’s”.
Olive Regina Webb, known to seventeen grandchildren as Nanna, baked the best scones and pikelets and always served them warm. “We’re here Nanna, and we’re starving” would be the cry that would herald our appearance as we ascended the back steps to the kitchen or the heart of the home as Nanna declared it. It was she who introduced my brothers and me to the cup of tea and at a very early age. The first pour of the pot would half fill the teacup, it would then be diluted and cooled with milk. A single teaspoon of sugar was allowed as long as we did not stir too long or vigorously. This morning and afternoon tea ritual was enjoyed many, many times during our childhood and thus the happy connection was made with a cup of tea and the feeling of belonging.
Years passed and many cups of tea later I had the blessing of a sharing a very special day with my Nanna around my kitchen table. It was a day of cuppas. It began early on the 12th of May 1993. I woke knowing that today was ‘the day’. My certainties lead to my husband, Ross, ringing my mother who lived over 500km away and telling her the news. She was on her way! At breakfast we discussed the day’s plans over a cup of tea. Claire (9 years old) and her twin brothers Peter and Robert (6 years old) went off to school as usual. Kate (2 years old) and I waited for the expected visit of Nanna. She just happened to be in town staying with her daughter and family. Over a cup of tea we shared the news. ‘Keep walking’ was her advice. Time passed. Nanna shared with me the stories of her motherhood over a lunchtime cuppa and while we prepared a casserole for tea and pikelets for afternoon tea.
What an afternoon tea it turned out to be. The tablecloth was spread and the blue and white teacups were set out (not a mug was in sight). Mum had arrived much to the delight of the children who had returned home from school. Nanna sat at the head of the table around which everyone else had congregated. Ross had even found time to join us. It was a gathering of four generations. The large willow teapot was full and chatter flowed. There was an air of excitement and expectation. It was a holy moment, a moment of belonging.
At about 5pm Nanna was collected by my aunt and with a small suitcase in hand, Ross and I also left. There was work to be done. Mum took over the kitchen. By the time the wall clock chimed 8 pm, the children were fed and bathed and ready for bed, and she had answered the phone call which told her that the midwife was satisfied, Ross was relieved and I was sipping a well earned cup of tea. Her new grandson, our Jeffrey Ross was wrapped snugly and asleep. She would call Nanna and pass on the good news. Narelle Davies
Geoff Barlow's koala tea cosy
Tea in High Places.
Having been introduced to tea at the ripe old age of three, I now admit to being an addict and carrying a thermos flask of the brew into some very unlikely places. It has to be said that none of my tea drinking experiences quite rival the efforts of eccentric mountaineer Chris Darwin who, besides being the great-great grandson of Charles Darwin, is famous for staging the world’s highest ever high tea, on the blizzard-blasted slopes of the highest peak in the Peruvian Andes (6769 metres).
My somewhat more modest tea drinking experiences include:
1. Lunch at the picnic tables in Brock Park Stanthorpe, while sleet was falling.
2. Sharing a thermos flask and chocolate cake with my family on the top deck of the Stradbroke Island ferry.
3. Tea at Thredbo with snow all around.
4. Drink-driving (but only tea) while steering a 1974 Valiant sedan between Townsville and Cairns.
5. Tea and hamburgers on an Amtrac cross-continental train while travelling through theS ierra Nevada Ranges between Nevada and California.
6. Tea in the back yard of a bush pub (lots of “what are ya- where’s your fourex” commentary).
7. Anyway, tea is the most civilised drink in the world, wherever it is drunk. We owe China a lot for bringing it to the world and England a lot for bringing it here. As long as it’s not tea bags with the floor sweepings included – leaf tea, in a pot, is the way to go! Geoff Barlow
As a young child I would love to stay with my Gran and Grandad who lived around the corner. At home I was not allowed to drink tea, but at Gran’s I was not just allowed to drink tea, it was my job to make the tea! I would empty the old leaves out of the aluminium pot through the kitchen window onto the garden, heat up the pot with hot water from the wood stove, put in the tea, one for each person and one for the pot. Fill up the pot with hot water, put on the cozy then turn the pot round three times and let it steep. Gran would pour the tea into our cups, big breakfast tea cups with saucers for herself and Grandad, my special cup was this carnival glass mug, as I was too young to use the traditional china set that was handed down through our family. Patricia Shaw
Mary Powel's Japanese cup c. 1946
My tiny Japanese cup and saucer are part of a small set given to me in 1947-48 not long after the end of the Second World War. I don’t know if my Uncle bought it or “souvenired” it. I played with it as a child, as did my own daughter. I think it is hand-painted It has survived a great many moves, from Japan to England to Australia. Mary Powel