Tea – time is not a time of day, it’s a state of mind.
My earliest memories of chai (black tea, milk, cardamom, and copious amounts of sugar) would involve my self as a child drinking tea out of saucers. The sweet milky consistency was ambrosia to my young taste buds – still is when I consider it.
The saucer though, I was obsessed with having my tea in a saucer. If I remember correctly I was given a saucer as a child because I was not dexterous enough for a cup, let alone sticking a pinky out. Plus it was easier to dole out tiny portions.
If one were to traverse the asian subcontinent it would not be uncommon to come across saucer aficionados. In fact, parts of southern asia are best experienced with a saucer to one’s lips.
I would be misleading you dear reader if I claimed that the saucer is exclusive to the asian subcontinent. Our Persian brethren share much of the love for the saucer. With qand clamped between teeth, they sip bitter tea out of saucers which sweetens as it passes through the rock of sugar before sliding onwards.
There is more charm in the saucer than one gets from first impressions. Drinking out the saucer is a patient, exercised task. One repeatedly pours the cup in splashes of servings onto the saucer. Four, perhaps five times before finishing an entire cup. Also, the added benefit of increased surface area allows for faster cooling.
The bustle of the city and the toil of the farm leave little time for tea to cool.
The tradition of saucer drinking is rather less barbaric than one would imagine. The late 19th century saw European elite enjoying saucer filled helpings of tea. Up until the mid 20th century saucers served the dual role of setting cups on, and drinking from.
Somewhere along the way I imagine, our colonial masters having infused their cup and saucer culture with our chai culture, abandoned the saucer to the commoner.
And there it found its home, amid the warm embrace of tea, and the mouths of many.