Monday, January 14, 2013

Downtown Abbey and Star Trek: A comparison of methods for obtaining aqueous extracts of Camellia sinensis

It was a gray day in Philadelphia, the fog never quite lifted, making the view from my study window look like a black and white photograph. Layer upon layer of trees stripped bare by winter fading into the mists. I was writing, working on an essay due later this week, and when the middle of the afternoon rolled around, I wanted a cup of tea.

As I made up a tray in the kitchen, warming the pot, and filling the sugar bowl, I imagined what it might be like to live at Downton Abbey. I would ring the bell and tell Carson that I'd like tea. It would arrive steaming hot on a silver tray, irregular lumps of sugar piled in a bowl, lemon slices fanned out on a tray. Carson would slide the tray onto the table next to the desk and quietly pour me a cup before easing out the door.

Or perhaps I have a post on the USS Enterprise. I could say to the air, "Tea. Assam. Hot, with sugar and lemon." A sleek white mug would shiver into being in the replicator slot in the wall next to my desk, steam curling above its surface. A discrete chime reminds me to grab it before it gets cold.

Instead, I put the tea pot on the tray and carefully carry it up to my study, where I pour a cup and sip strength from its steamy caffeinated contents. I'm Daisy, Carson and the Dowager Countess, all rolled into one.  But the tray is silver (for which I paid $1 at the thrift shop, #lifeonthemainline)...

I once stayed in a house that had "staff" while traveling with my parents.  (My father was on business and I was being a companion to my mother.  The company he was visiting put us up there.) After a rather formal dinner, I was asked if I wanted coffee or tea on my morning tray.  "Tea, please."  The next morning, while I was in the shower, a tray appeared with a pot of tea.  Hot.  This, is my view, was the height of luxury.


  1. Downtown Abbey and Star Trek, there are many reasons we are good friends...

  2. Just the thought of having a teapot of hot tea on a silver tray sounds royal. And the fact it was a thrift store find makes it better. Even in hot weather in January - had to turn the a/c on today.