Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tea, Sympathy and Home Baking

I have spent many hours at home recently, contemplating the choices of tea in an alcove we had made specially for the purpose when renovating some years ago.  Shoulder surgery to my right arm has rendered me somewhat useless at the day to day tasks I take for granted, driving being one of them, hence the time spent in the confines of our house.  Fortunately I have been blessed by a stream of visitors who have helped pass the tedium of home detention.  They're all tea drinkers and excellent bakers.  My luck.

I can still fill the kettle one handed and with a little help, get the lid off the tea caddy, fill my chosen teapot and generally go about tea making duties.  As I contemplate the various offerings in my tea alcove it has become painfully obvious my tea choices are of a narrow focus.  No longer do I house an array of flavoured black teas, greens and the odd herbal to round out my preference for traditional single estate black teas. Over the last eighteen years as The Tea Lady my tastes have morphed from drinking anything and everything to a preference for the subtle nuances of grade, country of origin and time of picking.  In the afternoons I might add a pinch of Lapsang Souchong to my Ceylon tea or branch out wildly and have a Vanilla Rooibos after dinner.

My visitors are perplexed at the lack of exotic choices but they're unfailingly polite about the tea proffered, either with milk or without but rarely with sugar.  It would seem a shame to detract from the flavour of home baking that is bought, shared then left behind for our consumption.  Pumpkin and date cake, coconut and coco rounds, fruity slices and an assortment of biscuits all lovingly baked, artfully presented, unfailingly delicious.

The time honoured tradition of tea, sympathy and home baking as a way of nurturing and caring for friends resonates strongly with me.  I relish a rainy afternoon dedicated to baking, inviting friends to join us for a slice of something and cup of something else.  The bestowing of these blessings in return has lifted my spirits and no doubt aided my recovery.

The power of tea, sympathy and home baking should not be underestimated.
Anna Salek

Monday, August 12, 2013

Tea and Tanks

The news out of Syria has been one long, terrible stream of horror and atrocities. But even in the midst of war, the country's fighters have been captured putting aside their weapons for an afternoon tea.  READ MORE below for a startling collection of images from Reuters.

Free Syrian Army fighters use poster of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad to start a fire for heat and making tea in Aleppo.

 A group of unemployed Iraqi men drink tea in Sayydeh Zenab, an Iraqi neighbourhood near Damascus. Since the start of the U.S.-led war on Iraq in March 2003, Iraqi refugees, who fled the country, have started to create their own community inside the Syria. An estimated 1.4 million Iraqis are now living in Syria..

 A member of the Free Syrian Army blows a fire under a teapot, as he stands near curtains used to provide protection from snipers loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, in Deir al-Zor.