Teatime: My Top Five Blends These Days

Being in London, Oxford, and Paris two years ago sparked a new dalliance with tea on my part. Nothing can separate me from my coffee in the morning, but one can’t be a true Anglophile without a love for the cuppa, right? Here’s what I’m sipping these days.

1. English Breakfast Tea

English breakfast tea is a standard black tea blend that many describe as full-bodied, robust, and rich. I find it to be rather light for my taste, but it’s a good and serviceable tea for regular use. It doesn’t work as a replacement for coffee in the morning, but I do enjoy it for a mid-afternoon break in the action. The red telephone tin is a bonus.

2. Earl Grey Tea

Earl Grey tea is a popular black tea blend flavored with Bergamot, a type of citrus. It has a generally mild, balanced taste, which I find to be more full-bodied than the English breakfast tea. It’s good for those “one-step-above standard” occasions, well suited for mid- to late-afternoon breaktime.

3. PG Tips Tea

PG Tips tea is the bomb on this tongue—a real treat for those who like it bold. It has the same effect as a good cup of coffee in the morning. I find it to be strong but not bitter, robust but not muddy. As one reviewer writes, “There’s not a lot of pretense in a cup of PG Tips, despite the fact that it inspired little prince George’s nickname, ‘Tips.’” I love this blend!

4. Celestial Seasonings Peppermint Herbal Tea

Readers of TNL will know of my affection for all things mint. The flavor and aroma of this blend are neither overpowering nor overly sweet. Rather, there’s just enough zest to delight the tongue and remind a person of the North Pole. It’s not quite Christmas in a cup, but it’s pleasant enough to remind us that Santa is still making his list and checking it twice.

5. Bigelow ‘I Love Lemon’ Tea

Bigelow ‘I Love Lemon’ tea is my current favorite—especially as the day is winding down and bedtime is right around the corner. There’s more than a hint of lemon in its flavor, and the blend is free from caffeine and artificial ingredients. While many view this particular brew as a kitchen staple, I find it to be a real comfort and delight. My lips enjoy sipping this one.

 What’s your favorite tea?

The Kilns: Where C. S. Lewis Lived and Wrote

Below are a few pictures from the scores I took during our 2019 visit to the “The Kilns,” the adult home of scholar and author C. S. Lewis, located on the outskirts of Headington Quarry, Oxford, England. The place is named for a brick-making operation that had two large kilns on site. The house today is a study center, so reservations for tour times are required. Our guide was a doctoral student from the United States, and we had about 20 minutes before the tour began to talk about the research he was doing for his dissertation. The best tour guides are those who share the stories we don’t read about in books, and our guide had plenty of those woven into his presentation. In the end, it was great to finally see where so many of Lewis’ treasured thoughts were put to paper.

Departing for “The Kilns” on a double-decker bus like this, which are common in Oxford (and throughout England).
Walking the lane to get to the Lewis home.
Coming around the corner to the front of the house.
A left front view of the Kilns.
Plaque posted at the main entrance.
Desk in the downstairs study.
A bookcase in the downstairs study.
The upstairs study, where Lewis did much of his reading and writing.
The writing desk in the upstairs study. All evidence suggests that the Narnia tales were written here.
Lewis at his writing desk in the upstairs study.

“Jack” as Lewis was better known, slept in the upstairs bedroom, the smallest and most inconvenient room to access. When his college roommate Paddy Moore was killed in World War I, Jack befriended Paddy’s mother, Mrs. Janie King Moore, and her adolescent daughter Maureen. In 1920, after completing his first degree, Lewis decided to share lodgings with them (in fulfillment of a vow he had made to Paddy during the war) so he could more carefully look after their needs.

Lewis gave Mrs. Moore the larger bedroom, which he had to pass through to get to his own. That would have been inappropriate, so Leiws had an external staircase built off his room so he could access it another way. If he needed to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, he would use this staircase, putting himself out for the sake of his friend’s mother, who could be quite demanding. Lewis patiently lived what he wrote in The Four Loves.

Lewis’ modest bedroom. The small size of the room made it hard to get an unobstructed shot.
The ladder stairs built so Lewis could access he bedroom without having to go through Mrs. Moore’s bedroom.
The kitchen table, where Jack and his wife, Joy Davidman, often played Scrabble. They allowed themselves to play words in any language, including Elvish languages, as long as the word could be found in any book in the house.
The typewriter of Warnie Lewis, Jack’s brother, who also lived at the Kilns. (Jack wrote all his manuscripts by hand.)
The downstairs library and gathering room.
Around the side of the house.
Gathering area in the front yard.
Bidding farewell to the Kilns, and the other people we met on the tour.

The simplicity of the Kilns was quite a contrast to the ornate houses, palaces, and castles we visited during our time in England. It just goes to show that we don’t need to be wealthy or live in luxury to have a great impact. We just need to have an openness to the beauty, truth, and goodness of God as revealed in Christ—a willingness to be enchanted by wonder.

Friday Fun: Conway, Korman, and the Dentist

I’m finally getting my tooth fixed that I cracked last spring while touring the Bodleian Library in Oxford, so my mind has been on the dentist lately. Thankfully, my dentitst is a whole lot more competent than Tim Conway in this classic sketch with Harvey Korman from The Carol Burnett Show.

Conway plays a recently graduated dentist who accidentally injects himself with Novocain during his first day on the job. Korman, the straight man, keeps losing it. You might, too.

Have a great weekend. And be sure to laugh a little. Let others see your pearly whites, and then watch them smile, too.

Be blessed!