There’s nothing quite as soothing as a cup of ‘black’ tea, which nowadays is much maligned because of its caffeine content and teeth-staining quality. I confess to not having brought enough tea-bags on my holiday to Galicia, North West Spain. I’m here in the rural Spanish countryside, with an alpine view from my window and sheep grazing in nearby fields. The scenery is not far removed from that of The Sound of Music. I’m far from shops, and I thought that I was hundreds of miles from strong, breakfast ‘black’ tea.
Today, we visited Spanish friends for lunch, and ate a scrumptious meal of prawns, tortilla, honey-topped melon and red wine under the kiwi trees, with a shy sun sparkling from among the clouds. Afterwards we were about to have coffee, when our host turned to me and said, ‘you’ll have tea! We have PJ Tips from London!’ When I went into the kitchen, my host flung open the tin of tea and exclaimed, ‘I just know that you need some. Here take as many as you need. Take all these!’ She started taking out more and more tea, saying, ‘I have a feeling that you need tea… That you must have tea!’ Why, of all the things that she could have given me, did she feel stirred to give me tea? I had said nothing about needing/wanting it. But she was instantaneously struck with the idea of giving me pyramid shaped teabags full of tea.
Maybe it’s because us Irish have become synonymous with being tea-aholics. Maybe it’s because she is a very spontaneously generous person. But I believe it was St Anthony.
PS - And we might even deduce that St Anthony is in favour of tea!