Join myself and Doug for a brew as we chat about all things tea-related!
Do you have a daily routine?
Generally I wake up about seven or eight, roll out of bed, head for the kettle – and that’s as similar as each day gets. From then on it’s a bit of a rollercoaster, some days I’m interning – others I freelance, so my life is pretty varied at the moment. I find that the structure of the morning is more important than anything else as it picks you up and gets you going.
Could you tell us what you do for a day job?
Probably not! At the moment I’m finishing off one of four recent internships and preparing for some freelance copywriting I’ve arranged for afterwards. And then it’ll be back to the job hunt. Currently I’m dragging myself out of bed to be in the office until ten and from then on it’s a mixed bag - requesting images from PRs, writing various articles and bits of copy - some days I’ve had to go in and help in fashion shoots which has been a very new venture for me.
When's your first cup of tea?
I’m supposed to say ‘the minute I wake up’ aren’t I? It’s not actually, because I need a good twenty minutes to slowly crank open my eyelids and start the rusty cogs of my brain a-whirring. As soon as I can stand, my feet take me to the kettle, but because my boyfriend is a coffee-drinker, I’ve found recently I’m drinking coffee before 11am which as any true Englishman knows is tantamount to heresy. I’m expecting a letter cordially inviting me to my own execution any day now.
What's your preferred tea-making ritual?
My parents have always sworn by tea-leaves and so I grew up in a house with a tea-strainer, special leaf devices, and a beautiful, but rather worn, tea caddy by the kettle. However I’m not so discerning, and when it comes to making a hot drink I’d rather be drinking it already - and in this, teabags are my friend. I would say though that I’m a little bit picky in my teabag brands - PG Tips is a bit too rough for my sensitive palate, I’m more of a Twinings Everyday man, with afternoons reserved for Lady Grey. Or if I’m feeling ménage-a-trois-y, we’ll invite the Earl along too.
Did you drink tea as a child?
Incessantly. I’ve grown up understanding it as the real healing drink in times of stress, woe, or just unease. Forget homeopathy, Darjeeling will salve you. I remember once, nearly twenty years ago now, my parents getting rid of the stinging red ants in our garden by pouring boiling water over them. They made three kettles full - two to dispose of the ants, and one to drink tea while doing it.
But it’s also such a homely thing - the act of making tea. You do it for guests, but also in more difficult times it provides such relief. My grandmother died in hospital and I have the strongest memory of my dad, his brother and sister, all sat round our kitchen table after returning from seeing her body, wrapping their hands around mugs of tea and reminiscing, beginning to laugh again at old memories of her.
Confess. Can you say no to biscuits or cake? Are you a dunker?
I can! I’m more savoury than sweet which is something that would shock me from ten years ago. Offer me some nice bread with French cheese though and the animal within will emerge...in my biscuit scoffing days though I never dunked. The biscuit falls apart and suddenly you are left with a lot of wet biscuit miserably destroying the sanctity of the tea-moment. It requires so much skill to successfully dunk, that probably the only people who can do it are ninjas and grandmothers.
Which is your favourite cuppa of the day?
I would probably say the evening one. The morning is a requirement, it oils the machine of the brain and the tongue, while afternoon tea is more to chide you through. But the tea you have upon returning home and laying on the sofa about seven or eight is a thing of beauty. I’ve known a cup of tea - Chai in particular - to relax me to the extent I can feel my muscles losing tension.
Is there one break that's non-negotiable?
Lunch! Actually no, elevenses is hugely important. I’ve always lived my life in the attempt to be glamorous and you get the feeling Grace Kelly would always have had a little cup of black coffee at 11am, possibly nursing a terrible hangover and wearing something Chanel. I can’t drink black coffee though so I have tea or a latte, but the illusion hopefully remains similar.
Milk or tea in the cup first?
Ah. I know it’s supposed to be afterwards, and that the Queen apparently refers to ‘commoners’ as ‘MIFs’ or the ‘Milk In Firsts’ but I only do as royalty does when I make tea for other people. When I do it for myself I put the teabag, milk and sugar in together to make a sort of ‘all-in-one’ thing. As I said, when making tea: speed matters.
And finally, any projects or news you’d like to talk about?
I’m currently workshopping a play and hoping to put it on later in the year or early next year - it’s about shellshock and family and all sorts of things - and I’m in the beginning stages of making a short film for the ShortList competition this year. Apart from that, I’m just writing more and more, and trying to get my work out there. Here’s hoping!