A Ballade in Praise of Tea

Image by Holly Ordway
Image by Holly Ordway

Malcolm Guite recently wrote a delightful ballade, in the style of Chesterton and Belloc, in praise of pipe-smoking. I commented that although I approve of pipe-smoking, I don’t myself smoke, so for me, the equivalent would be a nice cup of tea. Malcolm, of course, promptly challenged me to write a Ballade about Tea. Challenge accepted!

A Ballade in Praise of Tea

There was a time I didn’t care for tea –
I can’t be blamed; in fact, I had good taste.
That lukewarm Lipton’s brew just couldn’t be
The cup that cheers; it’s really just a waste.
Nor was I ever very much impressed
By attempts to make it seem like highbrow stuff.
Spices, berries, flowers – it’s a test
Just to know what’s in it – I say, enough!
It’s time to make a proper cup of tea.

The electric kettle’s full, it’s heating up,
The teapot’s warmed, and has its bag of tea:
Twining’s Everyday – a good strong cup –
Is what I like – the kettle boils! Quickly,
Quickly, don’t delay, no time to lose!
Done! A splash of milk goes in the cup
(I firmly hold to prelactarian views)
And now to pour the golden brew. Drink up!
I’ve made a lovely, proper cup of tea.

Now, I cherish my morning coffee, too –
But tea is humbler, more friendly in a way;
A quiet companion for all one has to do.
In summer it refreshes, in winter warms,
It’s very nice with biscuits if you have ‘em,
It suits at morning, midday, sleepy afternoon.
A drink to share with Lewis, Tolkien, Austen –
How glorious is tea! A real boon!
Praise God for simple pleasures like a proper cup of tea.


Holly is a poet, teacher, and apologist exploring the intersection of literature and faith, reason and imagination. She is the author of the memoir Not God’s Type: An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms.  


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