Monday, September 8, 2008

Tea Talk

"Tea of course, made the problem seem smaller, as it always does, and by the time they reached the bottoms of their cups, and Mma Makutsi had reached for the slightly chipped tea-pot to pour a refill, it had become clear what they would have to do."
~The Full Cupboard of Life, Alexander McCall Smith

In the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books by Alexander McCall Smith, Mma Ramotswe and her assistant, Mma Makutsi, are always brewing, drinking, or thinking about African red bush tea, called rooibos. In fact, I first heard about these books from my sister-in-law, Britta, a couple of years ago, when I mentioned that I drank red tea, and she told me that she'd heard about it in these books. It took me a few years before I read my first The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency book, but now I'm hooked on the series. I'm also a tea drinker but drink mostly green, black, and oolong tea, although I have red tea occasionally . The general sense in these books is that tea helps with all matters, large and small, and there's much talk with tea as well as of tea. Here in The Full Cupboard of Life, Mma Ramotswe craves a mug of tea and tries to convey this to Mr. Bobologo:

"So I see,"said Mma Ramotswe. "And I see, too, that they have just made tea".
"It is better for them to drink tea than strong liquor," intoned Mr Bobolgo, looking disapprovingly at one of the girls, who cast her eyes downwards, in shame.
"Those are my view, too," said Mma Ramotswe."Tea refreshes. It clears the mind. Tea is good at any time of the day, but specially at mid-day, when it is so hot.' She paused, and then added, 'As it is today."
"You are right, Mma," said Mr Bobologo. "I am a great drinker of tea. I cannot understand why anybody would want to drink anything else when there is tea to be had. I have never been able to understand that."
~The Full Cupboard of Life, Alexander McCall Smith

Unfortunately, Mr Bobologo doesn't get the message, and Mma Ramotswe must go without the coveted cup of tea.

Later in the book, Mma Ramotswe asks herself what's important in her life--and comes up with a ubiquitous three letter word:

"Most people had something in their lives that was particularly important to them, and she supposed that the Botswana Secretarial college was as good a cause as any. What was it in her own case, she wondered? Tea?"
~The Full Cupboard of Life, Alexander McCall Smith

Tea comes to her mind (though she wishes she could think of something else). In these books, tea is nearly as important as any other character, and chapter eight is even titled, "Tea is Always the Solution". I often find myself craving a cup of tea as I read them.


  1. Aaaah, tea. I too drink tea -- the herbal kind. In fact, today I bought a box of raspberry zinger, orange, and chamomile tea. I like to drink it early in the morning and when reading books by McCall Smith.

  2. What a preoccupied fool Mr Bobologo was to ignore her prompting for tea! I'd never bother to converse again with him - seriously!

  3. Christie, there's a wonderful variety of caffeine-free herbals teas; I enjoy them,too. Red tea is also caffeine-free,low in tannins, and rich in antioxidants.

    Rudy, Mr Bobologo is not the swiftest creature on the planet!

    Thank you both for your comments.

  4. I love how you are writing about the small bits and pieces of the Mma Ramotswe books. When I was reading Tears of the Giraffe, there were a couple of instances when I wanted to lift out a quote and blog about it, but then I read on and forgot about that.

  5. Thank you, Myrthe. These lovely stories are full of things to think about or write about.


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