Ernie and Anna come over each year to train dogs and give me the latest gossip from Clove Valley, which lately has been rather slim. But they bring their own tea after the first year when they thought they could buy decent tea here in the States. After the first cup, they thought that it was the worst thing they had ever tried and I agree. The British, the Indians and of course the Chinese know what proper tea should taste like. This past fall they brought over a big box of PG Tips, a regular off the shelf commercial English tea and I can tell you, it tastes great. The box contains 150 bags and I am using it sparingly. My theory is that as we are coffee drinkers generally the sellers can dump their bad tea on us and we wont know the difference and maybe they are right. I gave up coffee a few years ago to cut out the caffeine and I don’t want to hear from my readers that tea has caffeine also because while it does have some, it is less than 20% of a cup of coffee.
I thought it was Rudyard Kipling who wrote the poem about thank God for the man who first invented tea but when I looked it up I found it was Robert Service, the bard of the Yukon. His brother Alfred Service died in the First World War and there is a small book of his poems dedicated to his brother’s memory. It is called Rhymes of the Red Cross Man. so here is the poem and very beautiful and moving it is:
A Pot of Tea
You make it in your mess-tin by the brazier’s rosy gleam;
You watch it cloud, then settle amber clear;
You lift it with your bay’nit, and you sniff the fragrant steam;
The very breath of it is ripe with cheer.
You’re awful cold and dirty, and a-cursin’ of your lot;
You scoff the blushin’ ‘alf of it, so rich and rippin’ ‘ot;
It bucks you up like anythink, just seems to touch the spot:
God bless the man that first discovered Tea!
Since I came out to fight in France, which ain’t the other day,
I think I’ve drunk enough to float a barge;
All kinds of fancy foreign dope, from caffy and doo lay,
To rum they serves you out before a charge.
In back rooms of estaminays I’ve gurgled pints of cham;
I’ve swilled down mugs of cider till I’ve felt a bloomin’ dam;
But ‘struth! they all ain’t in it with the vintage of Assam:
God bless the man that first invented Tea!
I think them lazy lumps o’ gods wot kips on asphodel
Swigs nectar that’s a flavour of Oolong;
I only wish them sons o’ guns a-grillin’ down in ‘ell
Could ‘ave their daily ration of Suchong.
Hurrah! I’m off to battle, which is ‘ell and ‘eaven too;
And if I don’t give some poor bloke a sexton’s job to do,
To-night, by Fritz’s campfire, won’t I ‘ave a gorgeous brew
(For fightin’ mustn’t interfere with Tea).
To-night we’ll all be tellin’ of the Boches that we slew,
As we drink the giddy victory in Tea.