Chamomile tea in a Spode tea-cup.

One day in the cafeteria at a former place of employment I saw a colleague sipping at a cup of some yellowish infusion, rather than her customary cappuccino. She told me it was chamomile tea. I’d heard of the stuff, but hadn’t hitherto seen anyone drink it. The stress of the place had been getting to her, she said, and she needed something without caffeine in it. Knocking back my usual espresso I felt slightly smug that I was weathering that workplace’s unreasonable demands a little better than her. Within a few weeks though, our roles were reversed. At the tail end of a nasty migraine I had a first taste of chamomile for myself.

It was OK. Its softly bland flavour struck me as unexceptionable. Although a sub-optimal substitute for the proper tea and coffee I prefer, there are times – such as now – when it meets a need. In the picture is some Teapigs chamomile in a Spode cup decorated with a ‘Geranium’ pattern apparently first used ca. 1820. The cup and saucer were given to me about twelve years ago, and have seen very regular use ever since. Alas the cup has now developed a crack along one side so may not have much more mileage left in it.