Blackpool Tea Party

Wabi Char with Young Carers

It is pouring with rain this August evening in Blackpool. It feels like November and yet inside tea is stewing, weaving its spell. Tea is more than a drink. It is a brew, a potion that slips its way into our memories and imaginations, the things that make us who we are.

At the head of our tea table sits Caroline Jupp, a self-professed afternoon tea drinker. She?s making and drinking tea with people all over Blackpool and Wyre, collecting stories of people?s tea drinking habits for her blog

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She has made two brews. A mojito inspired Moroccan mint tea, shaken with ice and served with cocktail umbrellas. And a Masala Chai which conjures Christmas (from its cinnamon sticks), childhood toothache (drawn out by the cloves) and fireball sweets (rolled and swallowed with the aniseed).

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It is raining. We are drinking magic around a table filled with mugs, cups, shot glasses, black tea, green tea, white tea, a mint plant, dried strawberries, chamomile flowers and a shiny mass of more packets, straws, glass pots, ceramic pots, metal pots and spoons.

We have different attitudes to tea. Some of us don?t drink any tea; some drink one or two cups a day; one needs five in the morning simply to wake up; and another swings from some days having one to eight on another. A quiet voice, almost lost behind the shimmer and shine of packaging, says tea gives them headaches. Not the tea they?re brewing tonight, though.

Imagine?each one of us as an ingredient to an enormous pot of tea being watered by the rain outside and infused by the chatter and activity within. The tea we mash this evening is stirred with our tea memories, new experiments, an old aroma, an improvisation or careful blends. From the ingredients on the table, the young people are invited to experiment for the infusion

What is made and what is spoken imbue this one-night-only concoction with the precision and freshness of a raindrop.

First in is a memory? Turkish Apple tea. As a powder it?s a bad thing to bring back from holiday, as customs get suspicious, but worth it, by all accounts. Just two teaspoons in a tulip shaped glass, no milk, gives a beautiful flavour. No tea flavour just apple. It?s supplied in the steam rooms so people don?t overheat and, despite the heat, everyone drinks it in the caf?s, to keep them cool.

More locally, Fresh and Fruity is whorled up on the spot, with enthusiasm and delight at the possibility of taking the majority of it home to share with a grandmother.

Slower, more considered is the making of a green tea, lime and mint infusion, as careful as the description of how green tea good for losing weight, has more anti oxidants in it than black tea, while white tea is less fermented, and how this drinker drinks a lot of white tea, likes it black, first started drinking white tea a year ago, moving on from green tea. This tea has no name but what?s in it.

All Hale Tealicious rides on the back of laughter, inspiration and friendship, coming from white tea, strawberries and mint. Mint is the crucial ingredient as this one is mint crazy. Mint candles aren?t enough for her, she needs to melt Vicks in the microwave, put it in hot water and leaves it to fragrant her room. How delicate is mint? She is testing the difference between tearing up a mint leaf and leaving it whole in the drink. Either way it is a delicate stream in the evening?s spice. Everyone agrees: tealicious.

Mint is also a memory of childhood, bringing happiness and relaxation. The perfect thing after a hard day: just a few leaves in a cup. Breathe it in.

Carer?s Cuppa is a cooperative essence, all following their noses, to replicate the Spring Garden Tea sitting dry in a wee glass jug. Spoonfuls of Japanese tea, rose buds, chamomile and strawberries are mixed, then bagged by another pair of steady hands, and labelled by another. This is an assembly line of concentration, a corner of industry, all because carers need calming down and a boost.

These eddies eventually, unavoidably, whirl into cocktail hour. It is decided a cocktail representing Blackpool needs to be rude, historic, busy. And is set to.

We have a cook who turns their hand to making anything, who takes to the pestle and mortar even though he?s never used one before, and before we know it, he?s pulverised the rock to resemble the sand on Blackpool?s beach. A peppermint sugar ready to lap the icy waters of the north.

Two variations. For every cocktail worth its salt has two beaches.

The Historic Blackpool Cocktail bouquets flowers: roses and chamomiles from the Victorian gardens, a pinch of Blackpool rock, strawberries because they?re always at the market. And black tea, like builders tea, because there are builders everywhere.

The Contemporary Blackpool Cocktail whisks up black Assam tea with equal mixes of Blackpool rock and dried strawberries. Tea pink.

Chin chin.

Caroline will be serving teas at the Banquet event in October in the style of some of the rituals she recorded through her tea ritual survey. She will select three or four, and be using the young carer?s cocktail recipes and serving those.

LeftCoast is a programme of arts?and creative activity happening?across Blackpool and Wyre. We?re all?about creating amazing art on your?doorstep.?From jaw-dropping spectacle to?intimate experiences in your?neighbourhood, we want to make art?happen. In the process we hope to?inspire and support creatives who?live, work and study here.