My appreciation for tea started nearly 30 years ago when a favorite aunt gave me a delicate cup and saucer from her antique shop. This Christmas gift was too special to collect dust on my shelf. I was a young mother at the time and every quiet moment was precious. In the afternoon when my active little son went down for his nap, I sipped steaming tea in that beautiful cup and relaxed while the house was still.

This habit of stopping to rest and enjoy a cup of tea strengthened when I returned to the business world after a five-year absence. Working long hours with daily deadlines, I kept myself going on strong coffee and soft drinks. Before long, my stomach was paying the price. Then my sister recommended I try red clover tea. The soothing aroma and smooth taste calmed my jittery nerves. I’ve been hooked on a daily tea break ever since.

At first, my tea drinking was limited to the simple taste of tea purchased at the grocery store. But as the years have passed, my tea collection has greatly expanded, as have the memories I’ve gathered related to this choice beverage.

A few years ago during December, my daughter took me to a little shop in New England and bought me a tea ball. Up until then, I had used a small strainer to brew. Now as the nights grow colder, I often use the ball to steep a cup of fragile white tea. It takes me back to that pleasant winter evening in that cozy shop when my daughter and I, immured in talk, sipped tea and watched the shoppers hurry by.

Today, the whistle of the kettle on my stove reminds me it’s time to slow down. I pull my old rocker to the window to watch the first flakes from a winter snowstorm, the mug of warm tea in my hands.

This year, I will tuck an antique cup and saucer under the Christmas tree for my daughter, a way to keep us connected now that she lives far away. And maybe she’ll use it to find some peaceful moments in her hectic days – and begin gathering up some tea memories of her own.