Lady Grey is one of the choices from my Twinings sampler that Audrey got for me, and one that I've wanted to try for a long time. It just conjures up many beautiful images in my mind. Interestingly enough, I was surprised to find that the packet proclaims it 'zesty and bright'...I was thinking of a lady wrapped in mist and fog, cloak pulled about her, coming in to her ancestral home and pouring a fog-like tea out of her silver teapot. But one taste of this tea, and that image vanished as quickly as the imagined mist.
It is definitely 'zesty and bright'. It's cheery, with a flavour of oranges and citrus combined with the Earl Grey taste. As though our lady of the mist was wandering through the fog and suddenly the sun breaks out, and she realises she is standing in an orchard, row upon row of green trees laden with succulent orange fruit. The oranges catch the sunlight as it breaks out from the clouds, and for a moment she thinks she's in an orchard of gold. There is fruit in abundance on the trees, and lying scattered in gorgeous profusion on the ground. The green grass lights up, too, and the dark blue-grey sky serves as a perfect contrast. She reaches out (with her lily-white hand, of course) and plucks one particularly bright one, cradling it in her hand. As she walks, the fog disappears behind her, and the sun comes out in full glory, sending rays slanting through the orchard, over the rooftops of her massive home. It's a huge place, rather like something belonging to Mr Darcy, or Mr Bingley (but not Mr Rochester, because there is no gloom in this home). She reaches the side door, where the butler has laid out the tea for the morning - silver tea set, white china, crisply ironed linen, and of course her husband's tea, the tea he had commissioned (he is an Earl) is there, ready to be poured out.
'Your tea, madam?' The butler inclines his head graciously, and begins to pour, as he has every morning for this beautiful lady.
But what's this? She stops! A hand is raised! She holds out the orange, and the sun's glorious morning rays light up her joyful face, and the little golden orb in her hand. The butler, apologetic, sets down the tea service. As all butlers do, he understands immediately, and no words need be said. He takes the fruit - gently, reverently - and disappears in a whisper of movement to the kitchen. In mere seconds, it feels, he has returned. The fruit has been sliced in glorious perfection and laid out on a white china plate. There are tiny silver tongs laid next to them, waiting breathlessly for their role in the morning. And our Lady accepts this offering, and herself takes the tongs and - hesitating only momentarily, as each piece seems to be perfection itself - chooses a citrus slice. The butler pours, carefully, quietly. The Lady places her chosen piece in the cup, with great decorum. No drop is lost, no noise is made.
The butler waits. Not with bated breath, for a butler is ready for all things...but there is slight anticipation in his frame. The Lady seats herself in the ornate (but comfortable) chair, the one she uses every morning, the one that looks out to the gardens, to the morning, to the orchard beyond. She reaches out - she takes the cup - she sips.
And there is her glorious morning, her golden fruit, her beauty and rest and tranquility and joy, all encompassed in one tiny sip. She sighs slightly, with contentment. The butler, again, does not relax...but if you knew him well, you would see a sense of true accomplishment, understanding, and appreciation there. He stands at her side, and she sips her tea, and the morning begins.
What a beautiful tea.