and why I drink it

I usually try to post something helpful, or meaningful, or whatever. Something that folk will be able to take away and use. Not that I suppose I very often succeed, but chances are you're not going to go away with much from this post in particular. This is about tea.

If you're a coffee-drinker, don't go. I tolerate you guys too, even if I loath the stuff myself.

I'm a Southern girl, so I've grown up drinking sweet iced tea and the like. I've run into waitresses in the North who squinted at my family quizzically when we asked for "sweet tea" - "It's tea, just put some sugar in it." It wasn't until I got into highschool that I began to develop a liking for hot tea. My mother bought me a box of Twinings Lemon & Ginger and I made myself a cup of tea. I will never forget that cup of tea. Just you try steeping lemon and ginger for more than the appointed time. I could barely even taste the lemon through the ginger, and I could barely taste the ginger through the scalding sensation running down my esophagus. This smug little Southern girl with her fine iced teas of sweetness was put in her place. I could hear the shades of Twinings chuckling at me.

But I tried again. Mother got me a prim little box sporting a green and gold vista of an Indian tea-field, also from Twinings. Rudyard Kipling helped give me an intellectual interest in the wilds of India, and this box of "Darjeeling" tea struck that nerve. "Darjeeling." I could jingle it to myself all day. I tried it, and I loved it. It's a subtle black tea, rich but light, and when they say it has hints of "muscatel and honey," they mean it. Drinking Darjeeling is like drinking royalty, only without all the nasty trappings of diluted blood, bad upbringing, and scandals. Drinking Darjeeling is like drinking red velvet and damson silk. I love that stuff. Once we ran out, as stocks of anything will run out, and Mother bought a different brand. I tasted the difference at once, and I went back to Twinings the moment I could.

I'm not a connoisseur, though. I don't drink widely enough to be that. I can pick out the differences in brands of Darjeeling, but that's about as much as I can boast. I never really liked the typical teas: Earl Grey, Lady Grey, Irish Breakfast, English Breakfast, etc. I tried Earl Grey, and it was too flat. I tried Lady Grey, and it was too fruity and sweet - the same with Irish Breakfast. English Breakfast...it's been too long, I don't remember what that tasted like. I retreated back to my faithful Darjeeling and stuck there.

"Tea is nothing but hot water with leaves in it."

An accusation levelled at me by one of my own characters, one which I couldn't really refute. But it's tasty water with leaves in it, and we take the leaves out before we drink it, you know. Give me a good black tea, a Darjeeling or an Orange Bliss, and I'm set. I like my teas dark and strong - but without the lemon and ginger. I don't use milk, because I think milk makes tea look uncomfortably like coffee; on occasion I'll take my Orange Bliss without sugar, but Darjeeling needs just a touch of sugar to take the edge off its bitterness (but if you put too much sugar in, it tastes like grossness). I'm not very adventurous either, save in an emergency. I'll dabble in a dubious Pomegranate Delight if there is no Darjeeling to be had (I think the Pomegranate brews too thin) and I'm not adverse to Ceylon Orange Pekoe if that's all I can get.

I drink a cup of tea every morning. Every morning. I get up, put my contacts in, get dressed, and put the kettle on the stove to heat. Not that you could ever set a clock by me, because I get up at different times: I suppose that routine is my only claim to regularity. But I must have my tea in the morning. I am not a morning person, and I've been told I'm a simmering mass of murder until I can get my tea down my throat. I like to think the report is exaggerated just a wee bit. It doesn't matter what time of the year it is, or what the weather is like, tea must go on. Tea is regular, tea is soothing, tea doesn't taste like engine sludge... In fact (I almost hate to admit this) I think my body has become so accustomed to having tea in the morning that it doesn't always mind substituting it for a proper breakfast. On occasion I have had only tea before shooting out the door, and I've managed without too much agony.

On a purely emotional level, I deeply enjoy the sight of a good ambery cup of tea in morning sunlight. It's like drinking sunlight itself. This is half the reason why I skirt around and avoid green teas (also, green teas are thin and dastardly, and don't do the job): tea may be only leaves in hot water, but I want it to at least look like I'm drinking something. Tea in the sunshine. It's hard to beat that.

that is why I drink tea, because I love it

6 ripostes:

  1. Hey. Nice post. Tea is always a good topic. I have to know if you've ever tried Rooibos? I dare say you'd hate it, but I had to ask, just in case. It's very different to "normal" or "Ceylon" tea (the category to which all non-Rooibos, non-green and non-herbal tea belongs in South Africa regardless of whether or not it was actually grown in Sri Lanka). It's caffeine free, so those who like strong tea or coffee generally can't stand the stuff. But I grew up on it (with milk, although I've recently started drinking it black...red, and a pinch of sugar). I can drink "normal" tea if I absolutely have to and recently gave into coffee when I figured that Pepsi was the wrong place to get my caffeine fix, but Rooibos tea shall always be my favourite.

    Ajjie >'.'<

  2. I can't claim to like tea myself, but my sister LOVES peppermint tea... nicely written post! :)

  3. I love tea--and coffee, but that's a subject for another day--hot, iced...but always sweet. :) Personal favorite? Either lemon or English Breakfast. :D

  4. I've tried Twining's Rooibos before. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it, either. It's a gorgeous colour, I will definitely give it that. Hmm, Rooibos, peppermint, lemon and English Breakfast. All very upstanding teas.

    Come to the dark side, Taylor. We have scones.

  5. Aye, indeed. It's a Jedi-instigated lie that we have cookies.

    Irish Breakfast, Vanilla Chai, and White Berry-Blossom. Those are my tea staples, though they aren't by any means the only kinds I have. I absolutely adored the Orange Bliss you sent me; so, unfortunately, did several other members of my family, and I haven't been able to find any more yet. But I'll keep hunting. ;-)

    "I am not a morning person, and I've been told I'm a simmering mass of murder until I can get my tea down my throat." Yep. That's me. That's very scarily me.

    We ought to belong to a club.

  6. I'm afraid any such club would have padded walls and very tall iron gates, and possibly a lack of shoes with laces.

    I do want to try this fabled White Berry-Blossom. It sounds delicious, dubious as I am about white teas. Publix might have it. I ought to trot round and have a look one of these days.