Love for English Breakfast Tea Explained

NTU Creative Writing Competition

SARAH TAN

Nov 16, 2018 | Creative Writing

When I visited my Grandma at
Uncle Benedict’s place, she never failed
to ask whether I wanted tea at 3
in the afternoon. You would think with
knowledge she should have acquired
by 84, she would be rattling off on the types
and benefits of tea leaves she stored at home.
Oolong, Tieguanyin, Pu-erh? Nothing of that sort.
She sifted through tea homes, and landed
on the familiar butter yellow box
of English Breakfast tea – a favourite I turn to
even at 24. I waited at the dining table, as she
poured boiling water, letting it envelop and dance
around the teabag, forcing flavour to be flushed
from the filter paper. Her sleep-shut crusty
eyes reminded me of our afternoon nap,
where I lay tucked beside her skin, in safety.
After all, she used to be a police woman. Her hands
were coated with protruding green veins. But they still
had the dexterity and grace, stirring tea
as if it was an art, lulling me into the quiet
of the afternoon. Grandma taught me that first sips must be swirled
on the tip of my tongue, that way it would taste like fresh moonshine.