Some of my most treasured memories are of my family sitting around the kitchen table, drinking steaming pots of loose leaf tea, and listening to my Mum and Dad tell stories of their childhood. They both grew up in London during the second World War, and entertained us with many tales of a life that involved air raid shelters, making clothes out of curtains, and the first time that they had chewing gum. One of my favourites was always the story of my Dad's Mum Rosie. She was only about five foot in height, but as the mother of twelve children, was known as a woman not to be messed with. And she loved her tea! As the story goes, when the sirens sounded to alert people to go the air raid shelters, Rosie would not be one of those running to the shelter. She would be found in her kitchen, and would not budge an inch until she had made herself a pot of her precious tea to take with her. This story never failed to highlight the stubborn streak that runs deep, but also how important tea was to my family. Hence my obsession!
A Brief History of Story Telling.
I am sure I am not the only person who has stories that they hold dear. So why is story telling so important to us as people? It is well documented that the art of storytelling dates back to the earliest human civilisations. Before the advent of writing, people told stories to pass down their histories, cultures, and beliefs to future generations. In many ancient cultures, storytelling was an important part of religious rituals, and stories were often used to explain the mysteries of the natural world, the origins of the universe, and the meaning of life.
As our societies evolved, storytelling also grew to include other forms of entertainment, such as myths, legends, fables, and folktales. These stories often featured memorable characters and were used to convey moral lessons or social values. In many cultures, storytellers became revered figures, passing down the knowledge and wisdom of their ancestors to future generations. With the invention of writing, stories could be recorded and preserved. The presence of books in our lives only made our stories more accessible and real to a greater number of people.
Advances in technology has resulted in exponential change in the way we do things. However, storytelling remains an important part of who we are. It is now done in a different way which includes not only books, but movies, TV shows, video games, and even social media.
Possessions are also associated with story telling. They can hold sentimental value and memories that are deeply intertwined with personal stories, as well as helping to preserve family history and traditions. One of my favourite teacups was gifted to me by one of the lovely friends of my Mum. She told me the story of how she was given the teacup set as a wedding present. Her married life involved living on a farm, and things were often quite hard. She said that having tea in the beautiful teacups was her moment of luxury and one little way that she could spoil herself every day.
Secondly, possessions can also serve as symbols of social status or cultural identity. In many cultures, certain items of clothing or accessories may be associated with specific roles or social classes. This is very evident at the moment, with the preparation of the crown and other artefacts for the imminent coronation of our new King.
Thirdly, stories associated with possessions can also help to shape personal and group identities. By sharing stories about our possessions, we can connect with others who share similar experiences or values. This can foster a sense of belonging and help to strengthen social connection. I have certainly experienced a sense of belonging and acceptance of my quirky nature when meeting up with other lovers and collectors of teacups and teapots.
Stories Steeped in Tea.
Tea drinking has been associated with storytelling for centuries and has played an important role in many cultures around the world. In some cultures, such as Japan and China, tea drinking is often viewed as a form of meditation that is conducive to storytelling. The preparation and serving of tea can be a ceremonial act, and the actual sharing of tea with others can create a sense of hospitality and community. One of my favourite examples of this is that of Moroccan Mint tea in Morocco. This lovely tea is always made when people visit a house as a sign of welcoming and hospitality. And one Irish lady informed me that if you wanted a visitor to stay for a long time, then you made a pot of loose leaf tea, as opposed to giving them a teabag.
Tea houses and tea rooms have historically been popular gathering places for storytellers, poets, and other artists. The relaxed and peaceful atmosphere of these spaces can encourage creativity and conversation, and the shared experience of tea drinking can create a sense of friendship, belonging and connection.
In other cultures, tea drinking has also been associated with storytelling. The tradition of afternoon tea, which dates back to the 1800's, provided the opportunity for the society ladies to gather and impart tales. Nowadays, morning or afternoon teas are a time for friends and family to gather and share stories over pots of tea and delicious snacks.
Stories and the next generation.
So why is it important to share tea and impart stories to our next generations?
- Preservation of Our Heritage: Our stories are an important part of our culture, and by passing them down to the next generation, we ensure that our traditions, values, and beliefs are not lost over time. Sharing our stories can help to preserve cultural diversity and promote understanding and respect for different cultures.
- Learning from the Past: Our stories can provide valuable lessons and insights into the experiences and challenges faced by previous generations. By sharing our stories, we can help the next generation to learn from our successes and failures and to develop a deeper appreciation for the struggles and sacrifices of those who came before them.
- Identity Formation: Our stories are an important part of our personal and group identities. By sharing our stories with the next generation, we can help them to understand their place in the world and to develop a sense of pride and connection to their family, community, and culture.
- Strengthening Family Bonds: Sharing stories can be a powerful way to strengthen family bonds and build a sense of connection and belonging. By passing down family stories and traditions, we can help to create a shared sense of history and identity that can bring family members closer together. Thank you Rosie - you certainly did that for our family!
The art of storytelling remains a powerful way to connect with others, share ideas, and explore what it means to be human. And tea is more often than not at the core of this. No matter if your are drinking English Breakfast or Earl Grey, the making and sharing of cups of tea creates a sense of relaxation, comfort and connection. And the story telling just flows!