To celebrate the fact issue 10 is out tomorrow we thought we’d give you a blog exclusive and invite Maria Whiteman of www.cordial-and-grace.co.uk to share some secret glimpses into her day in cups of tea….
Describe your home town
Bristol is a vibrant & creative city – a mix of green open spaces & local communities each with a unique character & independent spirit.
What’s your favourite receptacle and where did it come from?
I have a red & green thing going on in my kitchen at home so when I spotted these mugs (pictured), whilst visiting a Bristol friend in Melbourne, I just had to buy them. It wasn’t just the colours & the funky Australian design, but the shape, size & fine china are all just my cup of tea! I love that they are both a useful & beautiful momento of that trip and they are quite precious to me! So much so that when my flatmate had an unfortunate breakage she went to great trouble to seek out replacements to be packed into the friend’s suitcase on her next trip home!
I think a favourite or jolly mug can really enhance the enjoyment of your drink, which is why I have chosen colourful mugs for the tea rooms – they regularly receive admiration!
What’s your first break?
My day is no longer structured by breaks. it’s quite liberating! I just grab my drinks & lunch on the go at any time, which does often mean I drink the second half cold!
What’s for lunch?
Usually soup or a sandwich but sometimes I treat myself to something scrummy from our brunch menu.
Are you a tea dependant?
Well it would be extremely strange for me to get through the day without drinking at least one tea of some description or other – so I guess so!
Did you drink tea as a child?
Oh yes! It’s recorded in my baby book that I was given my first cup of tea by a family friend when I was just 7 months old and I haven’t stopped drinking it since! I guess then it’s no great surprise that I ended up running a tea shop!
Do you drink different teas at different times of day?
Yes, even more so these days after trying and choosing our range of loose leaf teas. Good quality loose leaf teas are like wines, full of interesting & distinctive flavours. People are discovering that loose leaf teas are just as much of an affordable treat as a well made coffee and it always gives me a thrill to hear people say ‘Ah, that’s a good cup of tea’.
Who are your favourite tea companions and what do you talk about?
I do love to share a pot with colleagues, family or friends but most often these days my tea (or coffee) drinking companions are my lovely customers. I decided on the name Cordial & Grace because I wanted words to convey bringing people together to enjoy the pleasant surroundings & the company of others. I wanted it to be a place where people made friends and could find a moment of calm no matter what else is going on in their busy lives. I’m thrilled to see that happening and I’m making some great new friends too.
Have you ever made strong, sugary tea for yourself or someone else to cope with shock or a crisis? What was the crisis, and did the tea help?
A girl wondered in last year in a state of shock, she was really out of sorts and had maybe fallen over but I really couldn’t make sense of what she was saying so I did the only practical thing I could do, made her a strong sugary tea! I refused to take any money & wanted her to stay to calm down but she quickly left. She did pop in a few days later to thank me for being so kind.
Can you say no to biscuits or cake? And are you a dunker?
Why have biscuits when you can have homemade cake? I’m often asked how I cope with the daily temptation of different cakes on our counter and the answer is I don’t! However, thanks to the drastic change in my working lifestyle (on my feet all day) and probably the stress of running my first business it’s had the opposite effect on my waistline. Who would of thought that you could open a cake shop & lose weight?
And your last cup?
Something herbal – I quite like to have a peppermint tea after a late meal.
Which is your favourite cuppa of the day?
Probably mid-afternoon as that’s when I’m most likely to take the time to pick a different tea, such as darjeeling or jasmine, and make it as I do for my customers. I’m also quite likely to treat myself to cake then too!
Is there one break that’s non-negotiable?
Not anymore – I guess that’s one of the great things I’ve discovered working for myself I no longer feel the need for breaks to get me through the day!
And finally, milk or tea in the cup first?
These days I’m a convert to tea first so that I can see the tea & decide if I want to add milk. It’s also much easier to add just a drop of milk this way, which is often all that loose leaf teas need.
And really, really finally, what’s your favourite ‘simple thing’?
Flowers picked by my mum from her garden for me! Like these hellebores that she rescued from under the snow, displayed simply in a recycled glass bottle, tied with a cheery ribbon!
If you’d like to see more of Maria’s day don’t forget to pick up your copy of issue 10 available in UK shops and ready for download from tomorrow.