Once when I was a child I was eating a teddy bear biscuit and drinking tea with a table of grown ups.
‘Do you mind if I dunk?’ I asked the man sitting next to me, a friend of my family’s.
‘No, not at all,’ he said, impressed by my good manners.
‘Oh that’s good,’ I said as I reached across and dunked my biscuit in his tea.
I grew up in a tea-drinking household. We only ever drank coffee when we had dinner party guests. I learned to appreciate coffee, but my first love is a steaming hot cup of properly brewed tea.
Every time I make myself a cup of tea – even if it’s just for me – I go through an elaborate routine of warming the teapot and mugs and covering the teapot with a cosy. I even set the kitchen timer for 3 minutes, because if it doesn’t steep long enough the tea will be weak, but left too long it’s bitter.
When the timer goes I pour cold milk into the warmed mugs and then pour in the tea. I know that seems an odd way of doing things, but to my taste it makes the best cup of tea.
My mother and I rarely went out to cafés together. When we met it was usually at her kitchen table over cups of tea. Now she’s gone that’s how I picture us – sitting at that table, drinking tea in floral mugs and talking, mostly about her favourite topic – her grandchildren. That includes you, Meg.