A dear family friend is in town this week, visiting with my mom. She has known me the entirety of my life and has been unconditional in her love for me and my own little family.
My first tea memories are with this lovely Canadian woman who was our next door neighbor. We lived on Queen Anne Hill in Seattle, until the end of my Kindergarten year. Her name is Hazel and she is proper, gentle, and kind.
I am not clear under what circumstances I would wind up as a guest in her home, eating cookies off of bone china plates, and drinking tea from an elegant teacup and saucer, but I am grateful. Hazel patiently taught me suitable etiquette such as:
- My teaspoon should be noiseless in the teacup while I am stirring my sugar (not in circles, but rather gently from front to back, in the center of your teacup, never touching the sides or the rim).
- How to properly place my teaspoon on the saucer (behind the teacup with the handle pointed in the same direction as the handle) once stirring is complete.
I am grateful to have been guided in those formative years to be inoffensive in my enjoyment of tea. Putting these memories to paper cause more and more memories to flood in. This writing wouldn’t be complete without sharing Hazel’s special way of keeping me in my seat during our teatime. Fifty years ago, large, square shaped, cotton, embroidered dishtowels could be found in every kitchen. If they were folded corner to corner, they made lovely belts which could tie a youngster, seated on phone books, securely in place. All I remember is Hazel being genuinely concerned I might fall from my chair and her wanting to be sure I was safe, but in retrospect…
My sister and I took our mom to Canada in 2013 to celebrate Hazel’s 90th birthday. This week’s visit is the first time I have had the pleasure of seeing her since. Her wit is sharp. Her smile is quick. Her hug is tight. Her giggle is ageless. I love her.
As I enter the 4th Holiday Season in the cozy retail space called Mimi’s Teas, I am beginning to reflect on the steps of my unfolding tea journey. If it is true “the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” (Lao Tzu), then Hazel helped me take my first step. She made the process of tea enjoyable for a preschooler so I could be well established on the path. I hope to do the same for others.