Drinking a Glass of Tea is a Family Tradition

5 Mar

Every evening, some time after dinner, I have a cup of hot tea. Each evening I ask my husband the same question as I prepare my tea, “Hey do you want a cup of tea?” Nine times out of ten he answers, “No.”

That was not the response in my home growing up. My parents always had a cup of tea together after dinner. That is when they would have some cookies or dessert. They would sit in the kitchen with their snack and have tea together. It did not matter if they were in our home in North Bergen or our bungalow in the Catskills, When they got older the tradition continued in their apartments in Cliffside Park and in Florida.   Wherever they were, after dinner they had to have a cup of tea.

Perhaps that is why I love tea.

Although they usually drank Swee-Touch-Nee tea (which I always called sweet touch me tea), when they came to visit me, they tried other teas as well.

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I keep mint, chamomile, English Breakfast, Constant Comment, and all sorts of herbal teas in my home. For them I always bought some Swee-Touch-Nee tea, including some green tea. Whenever they stayed at my home, I always joined them in drinking a cup of tea after dinner. This tradition sometimes drove my husband crazy.

An example, we took my parents to eat in their first fast food restaurant when we lived in Michigan. We had to be somewhere at a certain time, and were eating along the way.   My Mom wanted a hamburger, cooked medium. That was the first indication to my husband that this was a bad idea. But Mom accepted that all the burgers were cooked the same.

It was when my Dad wanted tea after we ate that my husband lost it a little. “Dad,” he said. “We are here at a fast food restaurant because we have to eat fast. We really do not have time for tea.”

I promised that when we got home later that evening, I would make tea for them. And I did.

In fact, whenever we went out to dinner, Dad had to have tea before the meal was finished. We all learned to have something to drink along with him. It made the waiting easier. When my parents drank tea, they almost always shared a teabag.  Mom liked her tea really weak. As my brother remembers, five dunks of a tea bag were enough.  Dad liked his tea strong.  He would let the tea bag sit in his mug for a while.

Drinking tea had another tradition: the snack!  Some might call it dessert. But in our house it was a snack.  And, of course, having a piece of cake or pie with the tea made it much more enjoyable. Especially when we were at a restaurant and Dad needed his cup of tea.

When my children were growing up, they also liked to have a cup of tea with their grandparents. My son especially wanted to sit with his Grandpa and have tea. When he visits now, he often has a cup of tea with me.

Although I drink my tea without sugar, my son is a sugar addict. He makes me think of my grandfather, who he is named after. “Papa,” who was born in Europe drank his tea out of a glass cup and he often would put a sugar cube in his mouth as he drank it.   Although my son does not put the sugar directly in his mouth, he loves his sugar as his great grandfather did. We often accuse him of drinking some tea with his sugar.

My daughter also likes to have a cup of tea. She seems to like to put honey in hers, especially when she is not feeling well. When she was away at college, I would have honey sent to her for Rosh Hashannah. She and her college friends called it “Holy Honey,” They decided it made the feel better when they were sick. By the time she was a senior, I think I was sending honey to her and about four of her friends.

Drinking hot tea after dinner is not a seasonal event in my family. Tea is perfect throughout the year. It is a good way to end the day. To sit quietly and think about what has happened. A mug of herbal tea calms me.

Each evening as I ask my husband if he wants tea, I flash back for a minute to my parents. I still hear my Mom asking my Dad. I still see her preparing the tea. And I still see them sitting at the table discussing the day. I am so glad that drinking a cup of tea is part of my family tradition.

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4 Responses to “Drinking a Glass of Tea is a Family Tradition”

  1. Protopian Pickle Jar March 5, 2015 at 2:32 pm #

    Swee-Touch-Nee! Reminds of hanging out with my Grandma, and Passover.

    • zicharon March 5, 2015 at 2:36 pm #

      We also always drank it at Pesach because it has kosher for Pesach Hecshar. But my Dad drank it year round. 🙂

  2. howard March 14, 2015 at 12:00 pm #

    very sweet story…and one i can relate to with my grandparents….it is funny how such simple experiences can leave a lifetime of memories..

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