Tea & Crossbows is the name of our regular Saturday night game group here at Casa del Nerd. I borrowed it (okay, I stole it - happy?) from the name of the unpublished Watchers sourcebook for the Buffy The Vampire Slayer RPG. It fit us perfectly, partially because several of our favourite, most formative games used the Cinematic Unisystem that powers the Buffy and Angel games, and also because we often serve our guests an assortment of teas on game night.
Shortly after moving to Merrie Olde London, Ontario, my wife discovered a wonderful little tea shop at Covent Garden Market called The Tea Haus. They sold a wide variety of interesting loose teas, and Megan began exploring them -- in typically exacting Megan fashion, in alphabetical order. In the years we have been in London, we have sipped our way through the alphabet several times. (The Tea Haus is run by very nice people who also happen to do a large portion of their business via the Internet. Visit them here: http://www.theteahaus.com/)
Guests in our home are often offered a choice of teas as they come in the door (especially during typically cold Canadian weather, which is to say ten months of the year), and it's not uncommon for us to enjoy a pot of tea midway through our gaming evening, sometimes with dessert.
Tea is a very civilized drink. It warms and welcomes you. It greets you with a variety of delightful smells, tickling you with cinnamon or bergamot or lavender. Tea is a drink that requires you to be patient, slow down, take a moment and savour. It is the drink of conversations where we catch up on each others' lives, the sweet kick of caffeine that gives us the gusto to get dinner on the stove, the pause that brings us together halfway through the evening and lets us re-focus so the game can get into high gear.
Food is a big part of our gaming life. We often cook a meal (or, more accurately, our friend Colin usually cooks a meal and we ply his culinary talents with tea) as part of gaming night. Sharing food with our friends before we game is an important part of the social fabric of our group. A meal lets us come together around the table and get to know each other again, gives us a common baseline before we blast off for whatever roleplaying world the night has in store for us.
And all of that usually starts with tea.