THURSDAY: A Cup of Tea


Copyright is held by the author.

EARL HUNG on for dear life literally by a thread. He tried to stay afloat while leaning against the inner wall of the bone china cup. This was the ultimate test  — the purpose of his life. To live up to his claim to royalty when the time came, and the time had now come. His only wish was to remain immersed until precisely the right moment. He was aware that he was nearing the end of his existence, but hoped that he would be remembered in good taste. He dreaded leaving behind a bad taste and hoped they would engrave “delicious until the last drop” on his tombstone.

“Oh brewers!” he said.

The steam was slowly making him unconscious. “It’s boiling in here,” he thought. Gasping for air, Earl felt himself slipping away. He had to stay afloat. After all he still had a reputation to live up too. He squeezed his head for his very last drop of energy and found it. He had to stay the course. As his head simmered in the heat and humidity, he thought about when he had been part of a larger pack.

They were called loose then, in the good old days of freedom. It was always such a great feeling of losing one’s scent. Earl remembered growing up under the open sky on the rolling hills of Ceylon along with his immediate and extended family. His family had been hand picked for generations, as they belonged to royalty.

Then one fine day, he had found himself sitting in a pile. His whole life had come to a standstill. Without notice, he had been bagged and shipped off to serve, and all he had left with him, of his family was their scent. While on route to his destination, which was unknown to him then, he could not shake the feeling of being thrown in a bag with unfamiliar scents, as if part of a newer blend. He had been one of the lucky ones, as none of his kind had made it with him. They had failed to meet the standard.

Reaching his destination after months, he had lost his personal scent. Instead he had formed a new unique one that reflected his present state. He had learnt to accept change. Initially a little reluctant to be cleaned of body and soul, he had nevertheless evolved into a sachet and had been branded a stronger blend.

He hadn’t been allowed to sit idly for too long on the front before he saw action. The place had been unfamiliar, but he had learnt to call it home. Earl had become comfortable with his surroundings, although a little claustrophobic at first, after having grown up under blue skies and used to living without boundaries. He had been given special treatment.

Earl remembered, someone calling him special. “We’ll save this for an occasion,” she said.

Well, that occasion had arrived and just when Earl thought he would fail to live up to his reputation, he heard what he had been longing to hear. “This is delicious, truly royal. Lovely until the last drop.”

Earl was placed gently onto the silver holder and later came to rest next to a carton. The words on the side of the carton read: “Royal Tea, delicious until the last drop.”


  1. Beverley Burgess Bell

    Great story Ali. You have a way with puns. I really enjoyed it and will be looking at my next cup of tea in quite a different light. Bev

  2. Sara

    A very enjoyable read — and for all us tea lovers, it’s good to hear the other side of the story too ;).

  3. Michael joll

    Ah, bergamot! Funny how one simple yet exotic ingredient can turn the banal into the sublime, fit for Royalty — and for you and me.
    Well written, witty and as enjoyable as ‘the cup that cheers but not inebriates’. I think that was William Cowper who wrote that. Or possibly Alexander Pope.

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