“Shall I Be Mother?”

I’m a huge fan of British murder mysteries. I especially enjoy the ones that are set from about 1880 until around 1920, before traditional English culture was so very changed by World War I.

In these stories by the likes of Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, and Patricia Wentworth, you’ll come across the phrase, “Shall I be mother?” It seems like a strange question until you realize someone is asking if they should pour tea for everyone.

It’s only fitting, then, that tea is a beverage associated with mothers, at least in the United Kingdom. And on my last visit to the…