A hot cup of tea, to some, is no different than “flavored water,” as one eloquent tea-hater once phrased it. But to those of us who have studied abroad in London, a cup of tea is a warm welcome–into someone’s home, heart, and the city itself. English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Darjeeling and Chai were some of our first friends. They were there for us on those dull grey mornings when we could not pull ourselves out of bed; they sat patiently with us as we crammed for exams; they held our hands on cold walks along the Thames. So to those who write tea off as “flavored water,” I say: pish posh. (And may I fix you a proper cup?)
Tea brings people together and is a reminder of how London and its citizens welcomed us with a crooked smile and porcelain saucer. To celebrate our collective appreciation for tea and British culture, all students who studied in London at some point during their Skidmore career (London First Year Experience, The Shakespeare Programme, or Skidmore in London) were invited to our annual High Tea reunion last Monday. From the recently-returned London FYE students to those students who are mere months away from graduation, the turnout was smashing.
Finger sandwiches, McVitie’s digestives, scones with clotted cream, petit fours and a variety of other goodies from local Putnam Market (which stocks an array of authentic and hard-to-find English sweets!) made for a lovely evening. While high tea certainly looks a bit grander from the sweeping vista of the sky-lit National Portrait Gallery Portrait Restaurant, it still tasted sweet (though perhaps our sugar is a tad more artificial) to catch up with our old friends–the Earl, and that girl we sat next to in art history class.