After a long trip, the first thing that runs through my mind is, “Just tell me there’s a cup of tea and a biscuit waiting inside.” It’s a Dame Maggie Smith quote perfectly stated in its need for the comforts of home and hearth but reminiscent of the somewhat exhausting tone underlying the excitement of new faces and places.
And if the Dowager Countess said it, then it must be true, right? Dame Maggie Smith is probably one of my favorites whether dressed as Lady Violet, Miss Jean Brodie, Professor Macgonagall, or as Lady Trentham in Gosford Park (“It’s positively glacial in here,” every vowel pronounced in summary of the imaginary icicles forming on the walls!), she is consistent, sharp-witted and, above all, lovely.
In my book, if Dame Maggie Smith gives you a recipe, you follow the recipe…no embellishments, changes or flights of fancy to suit things such as personal tastes!!! So when she declares in infinite detail the recipe for a perfect cuppa tea – that’s how it’s done, consistently to create the elemental sharpness of heat and the lovely richness of warm English Breakfast tea with hints of sugary sweetness.
This is not the time for plain old white caster (granulated) sugar. Only the finest will do for the Dowager Countess – large granules of turbinado sugar in the raw, glistening in the light, melting in the shadowy darkness rising from a porcelain teacup.
- 1 sheet or red or pink card stock
- 1 small heart stencil
- A good pair of scissors
- Quotes from the Lady Violet herself or from your favorite romance novels
- A good English tea bag such as PG Tips or Prince of Wales tea
- A kettle of boiling water
- Trace 3-5 hearts on the back of your card stock and cut them out using a good pair of scissors. Flip them over and calligraphy your favorite quotes on the front. Once decorated, tape them to the paper handle of your teabag such that they lovingly decorate your tea cup.
- “Listen and learn, dear. Tea is a herb, that’s been dried out. So, to bring it back to life, you have to infuse it in boiling water. That is BOILING water. Everywhere I’ve been in this country, they slap down a cup of tepid nonsense in it with a teabag lying beside it, which means I’ve got to go through the ridiculous nonsense of dunking the teabag in the lukewarm liquid waiting for the slightest change of color to occur…and at my age, I haven’t got the time.”