He likes his tea with milk and one teaspoon of sugar. She likes hers black and weak. Just two dunks of the tea bag into hot water. Barely enough time for the tea leaves to infuse.
A hot cup of tea reminds me of them the most. It’s offered, just to me, every time we visit them. Not to my husband. They know their son doesn’t like hot drinks.
English breakfast, Earl Grey, Lady Grey. I know them well. But they are not the teas I grew up with and I still find it a little strange to drink it with milk.
Jasmine, Oolong, Pu’er are more familiar to me. And you have it with food, either to clear the palette or help with digestion. You have it with loud family meals with uncles and aunties around the table.
I know it’s just a cup of tea. But there is something different about their enjoyment of it. It’s quiet. It signals a time when they can sit and rest – a short break from their day.
There’s also something different about how they cater to individual taste. White with one. Weak, black. Strong and sweet. Not once has anyone in my family asked how I liked my Oolong tea. It’s tea. It’s good for the body. You just drink it.
Cuppa: noun 1. A cup of tea.
Origin: British. Informal.
They met more than 50 years ago in England. An Australian woman and an English man. He moved half a world away, leaving all that was familiar and married her.
In 1945, the Government of Australia initiated the Assisted Passage Migration Scheme as part of the “populate or perish” policy. Adult migrants, primarily from the United Kingdom, were charged ten pounds for their fare. Children travelled for free. In return, the Government promised housing, employment and a brighter future in this country. People called these new migrants Ten Pound Poms.
He was a Ten Pound Pom. A much needed resource for this country to support its booming industries after the Second World War. But the process of settling in a new country wasn’t easy.
“Australia must have been very different for you back then,” I asked once. It was late afternoon in St Kilda, Melbourne. We were right near the water in that bright afternoon sunlight.
“Oh yes, it was,” he replied. He was very homesick for a time.
These two people who like their tea so differently are my other mum and dad. Two remarkable people who stuck it out through difficult times and better days. Who had a family of their own and whose son I married.
I love them very much.
Now they travel. They bought a caravan when they retired, and like other grey nomads, they wander Australia chasing the sun.