Thursday, February 21, 2008

All the Tea in China by Barbara Quinn

I’m a tea drinker. My morning brew is hearty Irish since it has a nice caffeine kick. I’m grumpy in the morning, a slow starter. But once my tea has warmed me, and the fog of sleep dissipates, I become conversational and eventually pleasant, though my husband might say it’s more like noon before I’m truly civil. He too is grateful for my tea habit.

When it’s cold, I’ll brew a cup of green tea to get me through the chilly afternoon. In the summer I make pitchers of herbal teas to serve iced. In the evening, no matter the season, I finish off my meal with a pot of herbal or decaf tea. No more caffeine in the evenings for me. Decaf espresso ends some of my meals, iced coffee in the summer is a great pick-me-up, and no dinner is complete without wine, but tea is my most frequent beverage companion.

When I travel, I take a tiny immersion coil to heat my water. Any tea drinker will tell you that the coffee pots in hotel rooms make an awful cup of tea. Though I miss the tea my proper teapot makes, the coil heats the water in a minute or two providing a decent cup.

I use lemon, not milk or cream. When I was backpacking through Italy as a college student I became friendly with a young Roman fellow who was the concierge at my pensione. He quit his job to travel with me and our innocent romance turned to friendship. In the mornings he brought me tea in a white bowl with a large slice of lemon floating on top. That round slice looked like the Italian sun floating in my cup. I added a little sugar and was hooked by the tangy and sweet taste. Ever since then, I’ve drunk my tea with lemon.

Each morning when I float a slice of lemon in my cup, fond memories rise up. That slice of sunshine gives my eyes and brain something familiar to focus on, something that’s not blinking, or ringing or asking incessant questions. My tea with lemon waits to charm me, bring me pleasure, and propel me forward into my day. There is joy and comfort in familiar rituals and habits, even in something as simple as enjoying a cup of tea.


Nannette Croce said...

I am a coffee person myself. Actually,an espresso person, straight or a latte. Funny how that all sounds so yuppie now, but I caught the habit in Italy more than 30 years ago when you couldn't get an espresso here in the States even in an Italian restaurant. I still have one of the pots I brought back with me.

Angie Ledbetter said...

I'm a joe-aholic, too, but you sure painted a lovely picture of a little slice of sunshine in your cup to start the day.

Kathryn Magendie said...

What a lovely post - so full of sensory images...beautiful...

our "routines" are so comforting. Yes.

I have black coffee in the mornings, two cups. But, tea is for the afteroons, though I haven't been drinking it as I usued I want a cup...after my coffee of course.

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