(If you haven’t read His Take on tea at Sketch, you should definitely do so first. This is my response to that post.)
I cannot lie: I like tea.
Some of my very fondest memories of my time in England were of having tea. It was everywhere.
The minute you walked into a home or any communal space in a workplace, the first question is usually, “shall I put the kettle on?” The British seem thoroughly convinced that a cup of tea can make absolutely everything better and I’m not convinced that they aren’t correct.
Telling a friend about a fight with your boyfriend? She’ll likely respond with a sympathetic cluck and ask you if you’d like a cuppa. Commiserating with a work colleague over some looming deadline? Out comes the PG Tips. It’s just what the British do.
So I didn’t think it was such a big deal to have tea in London on an otherwise cold and dreary day. In fact, it seemed like the perfect thing to do on a cold and dreary London day. Except in the eyes of my manpanion-for-life.
Oh, he went along with my afternoon tea plans at Sketch, but there were a lot of questions, puzzling looks, joke-making, judging, maybe even a few eye rolls. He seemed utterly perplexed by the whole thing.
To be fair, Sketch does skew a bit quirky and in a very feminine way. There’s a hopscotch board drawn onto the floor, as if you’re going to merrily skip your way through the restaurant.
The tea room or “gallery” is full on womb pink, for crying out loud.
The artwork is loopy and looks like something a school girl would draw on the cover and back of her Lisa Frank notebooks.
Even the bathrooms are all white and rounded edges and slightly womblike.
The cleaning crew were wearing pinafores and frilly maid caps!
So yeah, not a very masculine space, to be sure.
And I understand that while I may love some Coronation chicken salad, crustless finger sandwiches are hardly a manly meal. XFE would have had to eat about 50 of those things to feel satiated. I completely understand.
However, I don’t think that’s the point of tea.
The point of tea is to sit back and let a cushy, overstuffed chair (or, even better, pink velveteen settee) enfold you in its familiar embrace. Tea is meant to allow you to take a little time out from whatever drama or stresses may be unfolding—and these days, there’s quite a bit of it. Tea is meant to be a quiet time of reflection, a time to put the world on pause and find a bit of barely caffeinated comfort in the bottom of a pretty piece of porcelain. Maybe even having a nice little biscuit and or a small sandwich with bland fillings just to give you something to thoughtfully chew while you ponder what to say next or how to respond to what you’ve just heard or gather your thoughts on what to do with the rest of the day, the week, your life.
Or, if you’re XFE, tea can provide a perfect excuse to tease your girlfriend. And do some not-so-secret people watching.
It’s ok. Tea can mean different things to different people. The main thing having tea provides is a sense of community. We’re doing this together. We’re taking a time out and reconnecting. I think XFE would agree with that sentiment as well.