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Would anyone like some tea? As the cold winter months approach, we Caribbean people increase our tea intake. But with us, even in the hottest temperatures, we West Indians like to have a cup of tea for comfort and good digestion. True to British tradition, all over the English-speaking Caribbean Islands, women still love to dress in their finery, their Sunday best, for afternoon tea.

Afternoon tea is one of the cultural practices that have stuck with us since the colonial days of the 1600s. When sugar began to be produced by the blood, sweat and tears of Caribbean slaves, someone had the brilliant idea of ​​using it as an ingredient in their herbal tea.

In the Caribbean, we use the word tea to refer to a plethora of hot drinks in many forms. For example, homemade chocolate tea (not to be confused with a packet of hot chocolate), bissey tea (made from grated kola nuts which can help flush toxins from your system, with a high concentration of tannic acid which has many antioxidant properties), the more familiar mint and ginger tea, and lemongrass tea (fever herb) are all examples of hot drinks consumed regularly in every household on the islands. . Growing up in the Caribbean, all of these teas have been administered for headaches, stomach aches, stomach aches, and nausea. Teas were also used for internal cleansing, especially after the mango season (usually August), just in time for the start of the new school year.

The word “tea” is often used in place of “breakfast” for the first meal of the day. This custom also originated in colonial times, when slaves and other plantation workers took “tea” at sunrise before going to work. The second “snack” of the day took place in the middle of the morning.

Tea is also associated with cheerfulness and pleasure. Tea parties are special Caribbean cultural activities. These formal occasions are mostly orchestrated by women dressed for the occasion. I recently read a story of a family planning a family reunion and at the heart of it was afternoon tea. Family members from Canada and the United States were heading to the US Virgin Islands with great anticipation for this event, which was very much like an excellent invitation to Queen’s High Tea. When the long-awaited day arrived, the women arrived in their best clothes, hats, dresses (long and short), feather boas. They wore what made them feel good. The hostess queen used her finest china, tea cups, teapots, linen and lace to set the table. The setting was beautiful and the steel pan music set the mood. English scones, fruit skewers and local johnnycakes, along with banana bread and traditional sides of creams and jams, were served with tropical mango and melon tea, among other popular choices. All diet thought has been put aside. The ladies let their hair down and had a wonderful time with the family.

The tea parties we attended at home were fundraisers. Participants purchased raffle tickets in advance and the winner received a beautifully decorated cake. The snacks included entertainment such as poetry and the opportunity to present a locally written skit that had been rehearsed before the event. The participants had the opportunity to taste different flavors of teas, sandwiches and various desserts.

As my daughter recently became a freshman, I think back to a time when life was easier (a long, long time ago before COVID) when she was in pre-K and we were sitting at her Little Tikes table. on those little chairs and have tea together. We placed her miniature tea set on the table, put our assorted herbal teas and, for the piece de resistance, we put ginger cookies, muffins, whatever our sweet tooth dictated, and enjoyed a moment of mother bonding. -girl. It was the good old days.

But, it shouldn’t stop there! We can still carry on the great tradition of tea time. If you are retired, invite a group of sister friends once or twice a month, get dressed, set the table and treat yourself to a lavish and relaxing encounter that will help you stay young and create wonderful memories that will last. a lifetime.

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