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photo: CC0 Public Domain
graphic: Martha G. Brady

I learned the proper way to make tea during my time in Jamaica. For the most part, my Jamaican friends weren’t all that concerned about making tea a certain way. But I had a friend who was from New Zealand who definitely felt  there was a certain way it should be made!

One day, I asked her to show me. She boiled the water and dumped some into the teapot. She swished it around a couple of times, then dumped it out. Then she poured in the boiling hot water to the spot she knew would fill it to 4 cups.

She measured out the raw tea. One teaspoon per cup. She may have added one more for good measure. She poured it directly into the pot. To keep the tea leaves out of the cup of tea, the tea was poured through a strainer into the tea cup.

The next step I’ll never forget. She covered the teapot with the tea cozy and took the spout saying, “Now you turn it 3 times.”

I laughed and said, “Margie, you’re kidding right? Then do you say, “Bippety, boppity, boo?”

“No I’m not kidding!”  She said, slightly offended. “You turn it 3 times to gently blend the tea.” I think she turned it clock-wise. I do remember that even the direction she turned it was very important to her! That was when I realized making tea was serious for her. This was not a joking matter.

We let the tea steep. Then she poured me a cup. Usually, the choice was for either lemon or milk. This American was weird. I just wanted sugar. Americans and their tea. So strange!

So that is my making-real-tea story. As I said, most Jamaicans weren’t nearly so serious about making tea as my New Zealand friend. And I learned something new.

Tea time was a great ritual…whether I had tea or not!

Tea time became an important and valued ritual.  We had it often. Sometimes, we even drank tea! It was especially great for a mom with littles.

Tea time was a great ritual in Jamaica for me. We had it often. It was especially great for a mom with littles. Click To Tweet

Often, after a morning of work around the house or play for 1 or 2 of the girls, we would get out of the house for a walk about 10 AM. We often ended up at the home of Miriam Imbach. She was from Canada. In fact, when they arrived in Jamaica, we discovered that she and my husband had met when he was a college student and she was in Junior High.

He and a college friend took a summer mission trip in the mountains near Banff, British Columbia visiting little towns and doing VBS’s for their churches. Here it was about 15 years later and they were now working together as missionaries. Her husband Jeff and I crossed paths in Bible College but didn’t know each other well. I just knew who he was.

Our years together in Jamaica were made fun by their presence. Their oldest daughter was between our daughters in age. Our second daughters were both born after they arrived and were about a year apart in age.

Miriam was especially helpful to me during my time of working through my grief. It all came to a head when my dad died…but that is a story for another day of these 31 days. Her brother died from a work accident a few years before, so she was all too familiar with grief and the process.

Generally, those morning chats over tea were enjoyable for the girls as they played together and gave the moms a break in our mornings as we caught up on news, discussed the girls and their funniness, solved world problems, figured out how be great wives or whatever. Then we headed home, up the hill to our house to finish a few more jobs before lunch.

Generally, those morning chats over tea were enjoyable for the girls as they played together & gave the moms a break in our mornings as we caught up on news... Click To Tweet

Sometimes, we took a tea break in the afternoon…rarely at the same place. We took an excuse to walk somewhere and stopped for tea and a few minutes of play…then back home again where it was time to start supper…a light meal. We had the big meal at noon.

Challenge: What rituals do you have in your day that help you pause and take a break?

What rituals do you have that help build community into your life with people outside your immediate family, and give your children other children/families to interact with that aren’t just like yours?

What ways do you have of remembering that life is not just about work and tasks but about people and relationships?