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Time for tea

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A STRANGE way of consuming tea was reported in Lockerbie in the early 1800s.

It is described by G Carruthers Kirk in his pamphlet, Dryfesdale Various Pen Sketches’. Farm workers were treated to the substance in return for harvesting flax locally. The author notes that in the early 1800s it was a common sight to see dozens of shearers at the work in the local lint fields. He goes on: “It was the custom of the cottagers in the harvest season to assist the farmers in shearing the lint for a certain return in kind: for a three days’ assistance they received six square yards, or a fa’, of lint. “One one occasion, no fewer than 105 workers sat down to dinner in the open air in connection with the lint shearing at a farm in the parish. “It chanced that the mistress of the house had received a gift of a lb of tea; it was the first she had ever seen, and was anxious that the shearers should share the taste of it. She accordingly prepared it for them; but it was after an original method. After having boiled the tea leaves, she strained off the juice, gave it a plentiful admixture of butter and served it out in spoonfuls on their plates, with the opinion – “I dinna ken what ye’ll think of it. For my pairt, I think it a gey dry concern.”

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