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Rituals of Tea Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

Afternoon Tea With Doris by Hugh W. Roberts

Every Sunday afternoon, I attended the ritual afternoon tea with Doris.

I never got a word in edgeways. Doris talked through cups of tea, plates of cucumber sandwiches and dainty pastries.

Natter, natter, natter. She never shut up.

But today was different. Everything seemed the same as I took my place at Doris’s table. She remained silent until her mobile phone rang.

Natter, natter, natter. Christ, does she never stop talking?

“Yes, I do miss Hugh. Sunday afternoon tea will never be the same again without him,” chirped Doris. ‘Why don’t you join me, the person reading this story.”

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Chai Time by Ritu Bhathal

Water simmers as I add tea leaves.
I peruse my spice cupboard, wondering which to add, today.
Fennel seeds, cardamom pods, cloves, some cinnamon, too.
Each releases its unique scent into the air as it is added to the deep brown liquid.
Milk added, the boiling halts as the liquid begins its simmering journey again.
A careful eye is needed as the bubbles increase and the froth begins to rise.
Gas down, froth down.
Gas up, froth up.
Three times, then off.
Strain it. Pour it into a cup.
Perfect masala tea to warm the cockles of anyone’s heart.

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Eyes Dotted – Teas Crossed With… by Bill Engleson

Don’t be a teas.
Spell that.
T E A S.
Like, peppermint.
Nah, like a josher. A tease.
You mean?
A leg-puller.
How’s it spelled?
TEASE.
That’s steep.
Like tea? Steeped?
Yeah. Soaked.
Soaked in tradition?
No. Steeped in tradition.
Like the history of tea?
Could be. Could also be infused.
That confuses me.
Sorry. It’s the same thing
Steeped! Infused! Brewed!
Brood? Like lots of children?
Absolutely not. The world has too many kids. Brood, like in worrying.
That’s deep. If I had a brood of kids, I’d sure be worrying.
I’m thirsty.
I’ll put on some tea.

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The Language of Tea by Anne Goodwin

I try to be patient: the woman beyond the curtain is clearly unwell. But what about me? I’ll never recover if I don’t get my sleep.

I’m just nodding off when the alarm blares again. Heart pounding, I grab my pillow and wander the corridor, searching for peace. “The noise is finished,” the nurse reassures me.

“Shall I bring you a nice cup of tea?”

I nod, although I won’t drink it. Why squander a fifth of my fluid allowance on thick builder’s brew? I’m accepting the ritual, the symbol of caring: right now, that’s all she can give.

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Saturday Tea by Kayla Morrill

Tea is something I don’t indulge in anymore.

Ten years ago, my wife and I used to warm a caramel wafer over our teacup back when we were just neighbors and friends. She and I loved tea so much that we had a private tea party every Saturday when we were little. That tradition continued after marriage.

Drinking tea without her seems criminal, as if taking one sip would hit her with another car containing a drunk driver.

But I now realize she is drinking tea up there too, every Saturday, with her killer, with me, and our baby.

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Dry by Eliza Seymour

Pluck a leaf. Pack it away. Pluck a leaf. Pack it away. It’s a rhythm Tadala falls into; the rhythm of centuries of tired hands toiling under the blistering sun. But the rhythm has been broken by the unbroken heat.

The next tea leaf Tadala picks is scorched and brown. Her stomach clenches knowing this won’t pay for the flour she needs this week.

She shuffles on, kicking up dust from the cracked soil beneath her feet. She starts work on a new row. The basket is far from full. The leaves are dying, and the rain won’t come.

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Tea for the Monarch by Margaret G. Hanna

Mary stood before the glass-fronted cabinet. “I see you have Mother’s silver tea pot.”

“With the dent turned to the back,” Dorothy replied.

Mary chuckled. “Good thing she missed Father when she hurled it, she might have dented his head as well.”

“Remember how she toasted every monarch’s death and coronation with that tea pot?”

“Nothing but Twinings English Breakfast, if I remember rightly.”

Dorothy took the tea pot out of the cabinet. “I think we should revive Mother’s tradition, now that we have a new queen.”

“I hear she prefers Earl Grey tea.”

“With a dash of milk.”

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The Perfect Cup of Tea by Nancy Brady

When I was a child, every adult drank coffee except for my grandparents, who drank tea.

As an adult, I neither drank coffee nor tea until recently. A friend once brought me tea laced with Indian spices for my laryngitis, staying to ensure I drank it, though unwillingly, but her tea worked.

In the past twenty-five years I began drinking hot tea. At first, I added several teaspoonsful sugar along with milk, making white tea.

Making tea correctly requires boiling water, scalding the pot, adding tea, and letting it steep for five minutes. Add sugar and milk to taste.

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The Tea Party by Norah Colvin

Ollie said the table looked divine. Teddy agreed, adding the fairy cakes were the prettiest and sweetest he’d ever tasted, and the tea was the perfect temperature. Amy and Lucy beamed. The tea party to welcome the happy couple home from their honeymoon was a success. Everyone was there. It was all going swimmingly, until a balloon popped. Ellie started, upsetting the teapot with her flailing trunk and whipping the cakes from their stand. Monkey screeched. Bunny watched tea puddle under the table.

“I’ve ruined the party,” wailed Ellie.

“It’s okay, Ellie,” said Lucy. “No one’s hurt. Nothing’s broken.”

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It’s in the Tea Leaves by Colleen M. Chesebro

Miss Pearl, the tea-reader seer scooped a teaspoon of loose tea into the cup and added hot water.

“Now, we let the tea steep,” she said. “Stir the leaves and drink your tea.”

I stirred the tea. When it was cool, I finished the cup.

“Now, use your left hand and pick up the cup. Silently ask your question. Then, turn it upside down on the saucer.

I complied. “What do you see, Miss Pearl,” I asked?

She examined the contents of the cup. “He loves you!”

“How do you know?”

“There’s a tea leaf heart in your cup.”

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Tessa Remembers by Sue Spitulnik

The day Queen Elizabeth II died, Tessa got out her treasured English teapot and the cozy a close friend had given her. She boiled water, took the last of her PG Tips tea bags from their air-tight container, and set the bags to steeping. She fondled her exquisite china cup, milked it, and added one level teaspoon of sugar. When the timer dinged, she filled her cup with the steaming liquid. While watching the TV coverage, she imagined she had crust-removed cucumber sandwiches and hot buttered currant-filled scones to accompany the elixir she had enjoyed while living in England.

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Two Teas for One by Kate

Alice ushered Shelley into her kitchen.

“If you want to make some tea while you’re visiting, the tea leaves are here,” she said, opening a cupboard door.

“Tea leaves?” Shelley quipped.

“In the canisters. The teapot and kettle are over there.” Alice pointed to them and continued, “You know, one scoop per cup and one for the pot. Oh! here, use this silver tea strainer.”

“You do all this for just one cup?”

“Of course. Why, how do you make yours?”

“I throw a tea bag in a mug, add water and microwave until it’s hot.”

Alice was speechless.

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Rituals of Tea by Sumiko Courtney

Ten years ago:
“Would you like a warm drink?”, Mom offered.
“Warm drink? Like tea?”, I questioned. Mom drank tea, 5 cups daily, minimum.
“No, not tea. Milk, honey, spices. An experiment.”
“I have decaf or herbal tea in the cupboard-”
“I don’t drink tea anymore.”

Today:
Mom still doesn’t drink tea, or concoct warm drinks. She drinks Soda, the evil we could only get at other people’s houses as kids. She prefers milkshakes. Unless assisted, she feeds herself spoonfuls of leftovers straight from the refrigerator, unheated because she can’t figure out the microwave.
Was shunning tea the beginning?

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Grandma’s Teapot by Tessa Dean

Breaking glass followed by gasps of pure horror pierced Annie’s ears. She stared at the floor and the shards of china from her grandmother’s tea set that was decades older than Grandmother even.

Everyone began talking at once, while grandmother just sat there, and a silent tear ran down her cheek. Annie began apologizing, “Oh, Grandma, I am sorry. It just slipped out of my hand.” She began crying too.

“How many times have you been told not to touch Grandma’s teapot, Annie?” her mother said.

“I said I was sorry!” She deliberately knocked off several teacups as well.

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Finally, Perfect Tea by Duane L Herrmann

As with everything in her life, my mother was very specific about one aspect of the tea she made and drank. One day, as an adult in my fifties, having invited her over for a meal, I think it was her birthday, I finally made her tea to her satisfaction, despite trying all my life from a small boy when I was charged with preparing meals and other work around the house. The preparation was not a problem, she was satisfied with instant.

“This is perfect,” she beamed. “Just the way I like it: the color of pee.”

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Butterfly Pee by Charli Mills

“First it’s purple. Like the prettiest purple ever,” said Mace.

“Pretty as forget-me-knots? Periwinkles?” Freya continued to mulch plants with her bare fingers. Her flowers and medicines glowed with vitality.

 “Mom, not everything is flowers.”

“Uh-huh.”

“Then, you add lemon. It turns pink!”

“Uh-huh.”

“Please, Mom, please. Can you buy me Butterfly Pee? All the girls are drinking it.”

The next day Freya drove to town with a delivery of bouquets and herbals for the co-op. She asked the grocery-manager, “Ever hear of Butterfly Pee?” To Freya’s delight, she discovered a new tea made from butterfly peas – a flower.

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Would You Drink Yak Butter Tea for Me? by Anne Goodwin

In Kathmandu we learnt the Nepalese for black tea without sugar, but it didn’t work in the Himalayas. Eventually we relished sweet spiced chai at the rest stops as much as we relished shrugging off our heavy packs. The farther we trekked, the thinner the air, the friendlier the people. We grinned when Tibetan monks invited us for tea.
Yak butter tea, smelling of goat and rancid cheese, black with grease floating on top. I couldn’t drink it. I couldn’t refuse their hospitality. I couldn’t throw it away. My companion saw me gagging, swallowed his and swigged mine too.

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Tea Party by Ann Edall-Robson

Plates the size of a little person’s hand rest beside china cups and saucers from another generation. Delicate napkins made from lacy material, found in the sewing room, lay across the guest’s laps. Mr. Bear presides over the gathering from the head of the table, and curly haired dolls wearing their finest dresses and hats sit quietly on cushioned chairs. The young miss joins her friends at the table when the lady of the house emerges from the kitchen carrying tea and baked goods on a linen covered tray. Announcing it’s time for the monthly tea party to commence.

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Love For Ethiopia by Frank James

Malik landed in Ethiopia for business. He knew tea would cheer him up. He entered a café getting more than he bargained for.

“May I have a kettle?” He asked. A tall woman pouted, “You look sad.”

“I’m home-sick,” he replied.

“The perfect thing,” a slender one popped in with cookies. He grinned. The original woman changed into traditional garb. She hummed, “Kinat, or rise up.” The slender woman wafted incense around Malik. The first crescendoed, “Your future is bright,” as the other poured tea.

Malik clapped, “I love Ethiopia.”

The tall woman smiled, “A tea ritual always helps.”

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Disappeared 58 by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Eloise peeled out onto the river road, heading for home. Andrew sat silent beside her, his eyes turned to the haunted mansion. It had begun to rattle like a teacup and saucer, in the age-spotted hands of someone who’d just received very bad news indeed.

“99 flagons of beer on the wall, 99 flagons of beer…” the Twins sang lustily.

“Who taught you that?” asked Bethany.

“Shadowman!”

“At least they’re learning their numbers.” Joseph tipped his head.

“We have more to talk about, it seems.” Bethany sighed, raising her eyebrows.

Behind them, the mansion groaned and dropped a meter.

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Ex Wife by Simon

Every morning, beside the curtain, steam of her hot tea, prints the little heart I drew on her window. She removes the sleep crust, wipes her fingers on her pyjama, stares at my window for a second, a little smile at the corner of her lips.

Sips the tea and read a novel for 10 mins straight and walks away, swaying her wide hips. After an hour of boxing, she closes the curtain and disappear.

Nothing changed with my Ex Wife.

She said she left me for two reasons, I never listen to her and something else she said.

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Tasseography? by JulesPaige

reigning days
senior discounts; an
age-’vantage’

Putting ducks in a row. Silver Sneakers, new health insurance for ‘covered’ prescriptions, and taking advantage of ‘elder’ discounts. Ten percent may not be much, but every little bit helps when mostly everything. Brew your tea, tackle your tasseomancy with fancy or plain jane leaves. Personally I keep my moments as my present. When has knowing the future been a true benefit.

I’ll take my tea with some honey. Maybe a squirt of lemon? But I think I’ll bank on keeping myself as healthy as I can so I can enjoy my life.

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Two By Two by Jenny Logan

Friday nights out for a tenner invariably ended the same way. We got surprisingly drunk for so modest an amount—several double vodkas and two halves on the walk home.

I tried to go to bed sober for golf on Saturday morning. There was a formula for this: two slices of toast, two mugs of tea and two paracetamol. Repeat upon rising.

My game was never better than after the night I danced until dawn—no inhibitions. I never did get to go for rooftop cocktails with the Pro, though.
Now I can’t tolerate alcohol, caffeine, dancing or golf.

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A Ritual for Thought by Gary A. Wilson

Like a preemptive therapy, a peaceful ritual precedes my joining the workday storm.

Two hours of pre-dawn darkness, one small light, my chair, blanket, bible, a second scholarly book and big mug of freshly brewed loose-leaf tea; these are the tools of transitioning from sleep to thoughts and conversation of who and what I am before God, thoughts of our world, finally time left for thoughts worth writing before tackling the problems I’m paid to solve.

Thoughts arranged – my day begins.

Like a cold engine, tea and ritual have warmed and lubricated my mind for the day’s challenges.

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Containers by Reena Saxena

Flowers neatly arranged in a teapot placed on the coffee table always fascinate her.

Secrets tumble out during leisurely conversations around the table. Anne’s father worked for the railways, and always traveled in a salon attached to the train. She loved journeys bordering on luxury, and once flicked a teapot as a memoir.

“You know what … I never have tea on trains …. lest my hands turn kleptomaniac….” Anne flashes a naughty smile.

Did she hear the wilting flowers sigh in relief? Containers occupy more mind space than contents. Stories we tell ourselves matter more than originating thoughts.

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Before the Devil Invented Teabags by Doug Jacquier

Mum used fresh water and brought the pot to the kettle. She would warm the pot before adding loose tea and boiling water. A stainless steel teapot was used day-to-day and covered with a woollen tea cosy to keep the tea hot. For guests, the pot was china, with a delicate artwork glaze. Tea was always served unstrained in a china cup, with a saucer. Milk and sugar were added after the pour and dunkable biscuits arranged on an ornate china plate. And when she didn’t offer to brew a fresh pot, guests knew it was time to go.

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The Gospel According to the Housewife of 1950’s Australia by Doug Jacquier

No elixir known to the human race has more curative powers than the humble cuppa. It’s ability to restore hydration leaves plain water, soft drinks and beer floundering in its wake. No level of exhaustion cannot be immediately dissipated by the ingestion of this wondrous nostrum. Yea, though the mercury be bursting from the top of the thermometer, nothing will provide quicker cooling relief than a hot cup of tea. And when domestic labors, fractious children and spendthrift husbands threaten a woman’s equilibrium, peace will be restored by a cup of tea, a Bex, and a good lie down.
*Cuppa – Cup of tea
**Bex – This was a product heavily advertised as a pick-me-up. Some housewives took as many as three doses a day of the powder that could be dissolved in water or a cup of tea to help them get through the day. Tragically, they contained the addictive pain killer phenacetin and caused massive kidney damage before they were banned.)

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Outback Swingers by Doug Jacquier

Tea drinking away from civilisation requires some swinging. The essential requirement is a once-stainless-steel but now black billy(can), complete with lid and handle. Make your fire, boil your billy, use a stick through the handle to remove it from the fire and to remove the lid. Throw in a measured handful of tea leaves and replace the lid. To make sure the leaves settle to the bottom, stand away from others, grab the handle and swing the billy vertically like a windmill at least three times. Pour resultant tar-like tea into enamel mugs and add four sugars. Bloody bewdiful!

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How to Make a Cup of Tea by Joanne Fisher

When people would visit, Steff would bring out her teapot, warm it, then add a teaspoon of tea leaves for each person and one for the pot. Once the kettle boiled, she would add the water and let it steep for a few minutes. Once she deemed it ready, she would pour the hot dark brown liquid into each cup, adding milk and sugar if desired. She made a good cup of tea.

These days she was alone, so now she just brewed a tea bag in a cup. She really did miss those strong cups of tea though.

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Taking Your Tea Like A Man by Geoff Le Pard

Ani Gav, owner of Little Tittweaking’s cafe rents a room to a variety of societies. This isn’t without controversy as, every Wednesday the over 60s BDSM society hosts their tea, scone and scolding afternoon, followed by the Reverend Stickler’s bible interpretation class. After one unfortunate overlap, when the Reverend arrived to find the members paddling each other as part of a fourply foreplay interactive, it was assumed there would be complaints. The Reverend, ever practical had other ideas and, by common consent sitting through his subsequent sermon was held to be a far greater punishment than any bruised buttocks.

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Comin Aroun by D. Avery

“Whoa! Kid, what’s with that mug?”
“Ain’t a mug, Shorty, it’s a dang cup. An saucer.”
“I meant your face, why’re ya scowlin so?”
“Cause it’s a dang cup. An saucer. Why d’ya gotta be servin tea?”
“Don’t you like trying new things Kid?”
“Really, Shorty? I. Don’t. Like. Change.”
“Tea is a very old drink, steeped in history. Ha! Steeped.”
“Jeez. I’ll try the dang tea. Mmm…”
“Um, Kid, yer s’posed to drink from the cup not the saucer.”
“This’s how old timers in New England drank tea. Reckon ever’one’s got their own tea stories an traditions.”
“Zactly!”

🥕🥕🥕

Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!


9 Comments

  1. Coudn’t be-leave the quali-tea this week, in which mercy was not strained. Readings from the bottom of my cup included:
    Hugh – Beyond clever in making a gem.
    Ritu – Even more so if you add chilli powder 😊
    Bill – Punned to a tea.
    Anne – Symbols count. Nicely done.
    Eliza – A poignant reminder of the price others pay for our tea.
    Margaret – A transgender Charles III. Who would have thought? 😉
    Sue – Transported by ‘crust-removed cucumber sandwiches and hot buttered currant-filled scones’
    Kate – Aren’t we all! What a horror story. 😊
    Sumiko – ‘Was shunning tea the beginning?’ You can put money on it.
    Tessa – Annie would have been eating her teacake from the mantelpiece at my grandmother’s place after that effort. 😊
    Duane – So she preferred it pee-lucid?
    Charli – I think you’re taking the urine.
    Anne – No greater sacrifice could a friend make.
    Reena – ‘Stories we tell ourselves matter more than originating thoughts.’

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Each of these stories inspired memories for me. The ritual of drinking tea has many layers to it. Thanks so much, everyone.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. orthodoxmom3 says:

    What inspiration. I thoroughly enjoyed reading these.

    Like

  4. Yes, this is quite the tea party, well done, Writers! These savory stories are rich and warming. You all never cease to amaze this reader.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. SueSpitulnik says:

    It looks like many of us have had a good cuppa’. I did have “crust-removed cucumber sandwiches” at a restaurant while living in England. I have to admit, I did not enjoy them made with butter. In my experience, the bread should have had plenty of mayonnaise. I did drink many, many cups of tea.

    Like

  6. Jules says:

    I managed to read a few and visit a few.
    Cheers to Tea!

    Like

  7. […] then “water”, were great prompts and got great responses. See the collection of 99 word stories HERE and […]

    Like

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