Sunday, February 08, 2015

This'n'that and the other - random thoughts about saucers

Don't ask me why but saucers have been on my mind, lately. Perhaps it's the result of a decreasing availability that's bothersome and somewhat perplexing. Just to clarify for people reading this and wondering if there have been visitations by unworldly beings, the saucers in question are the one's that go with teacups and act as receptacles for teabags.

Could be my early British origins in that there are conventions which have remained part of my essential nature. The afternoon tea ritual is part of a daily routine whereby life stops for a half hour or so to sit down for a "cuppa",  however, therein lies the problem. Over time it seems to me that saucers  have all but disappeared. In conducting some personal research, it appears that your matching tea cup and saucer have been slowly replaced by  your pedestrian mugs. Not that there's anything wrong with mugs per se, the choice of coffee drinkers, but tea drinkers need somewhere to place their used teabags and saucers fulfill that need. We tea drinkers have needs or requirements that coffee drinkers don't need to worry about.

For whatever reason, tableware manufacturers appear to have made the decision to eliminate or phase out the need for saucers. Perhaps there was a move to acquiesce to the world of coffee drinkers who are content to consume their beverage of choice out of paper cups. Consuming tea out of a paper cup is sacrilege for tea drinkers - okay - it is for me, anyway. In my view, paper interferes with the flavor and once again, what does one do with the used teabag, which leads me back to my original point.

"Spread the word," a dishware manufacturer might have told his workers, "we're cutting back on the production of saucers. If it's good enough for coffee drinkers - it's good enough for them teabag soakers."

"But what are they supposed to do with their used teabags?" a worker and tea drinker might have asked.

"Let 'em drink iced tea," the dishware manufacturer could have responded off-handedly and hence that could have been the creation and impetus for a new beverage. But I digress.

Thinking back, my grandfather who hailed from Russia, loved his afternoon glass of tea. The act
of sipping the hot liquid slowly until it cooled, was part of a ritual consisting of blowing on the surface for a short time followed by pouring the tea into a saucer and sipping it slowly for the finishing touch. What would he have used had a saucer not been available? A soup bowl? One can only speculate but somehow and knowing grandfather, it wouldn't have sufficed.

When it comes to the subject of tea time and societal correctness, Debretts is one of the best sources, at least in my eyes. Although no mention is made directly regarding the tea saucers and their disappearing act, the source does provide some interesting advice on how to drink tea and the important role of the saucer. According to Debretts, a spoon should be used to stir the tea  - this is important - without clinking it against the side of the cup and - still more very important and telling information regarding the saucer - should be placed back in the saucer. Note the usage of the saucer here. Once more saucers are the focus with advice that includes saucers remain on the table and never raised when the cup is lifted up to the lips. Perhaps - pure speculation - keeping the saucer on the table would prevent the breakage of the saucer in case some tableware manufacturers decide in the future to phase out the saucers. But I digress.

I'm wondering why the emphasis on not clinking the spoon against the cup. Is it the noise factor one wonders. Can't speak for others (why would I want to, anyway) and keep this to yourself but I'm guilty of hitting the side of the cup when stirring my tea. Actually I never gave stirring a second thought to be honest and nobody has drawn this faux pas to my attention, or perhaps they were too polite to mention it.

"Excuse me, Eleanor, but you appear to hit the side of  the cup with your spoon when stirring your tea," somebody might have but hasn't as yet, asked. To which my response would be, "oh really? Yeah - and?"

"Where there's tea, there's hope." - Arthur Wing Pinero. Along with the return of the saucer.

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