I’m not an espresso wench, or a latte wench, but a coffee wench. There are few things better than waking up in the morning, lurching half-awake into my kitchen, grinding up some beans and making myself a pot of coffee. My morning lifting-of-the-sleep-fog routine is largely based around sitting at my computer slurping coffee until I regain the ability to actually read the words I’m staring at as I check my email and social media stuff.
So where does tea factor into that?
My friend Eliot is quite passionate about tea. In fact, he has an entire blog devoted to it. I’ve perused the blog quite a few times, partly because he’s my friend and I like to support my friends in their various endeavors and partly because I have a genuine curiosity regarding tea.
It’s common practice in Newfoundland to drink tea with everything. Throughout much of my childhood, it was normal to sit down at night, just before bed, with what my mother called a “bed-lunch”: toast with some butter or margarine and a cup of Tetley orange pekoe tea. With pre-slumber hunger eradicated, I’d go off to bed and typically end up needing to get up to pee halfway through the night.
When company came to visit, it was common practice to offer them a cup of tea. Coffee wasn’t usually offered, and when it was, you would be served a cup of steaming hot instant lighter fluid. Maybe it’s because of Newfoundland’s slower pace of life that tea was the preferred beverage of, well, everyone. So it’s a little strange that when I moved to Ontario in 2000, I pretty much stopped drinking tea completely. As a teenager, my drink of choice was obviously Coca-Cola, and for a short period of time in 2011 I consumed nothing but Rockstar energy drinks.
A couple years ago, I finally embraced coffee and I haven’t looked back. Then I got sick.
My throat raw and aching, my chest congested and my lungs useless hunks of meat underneath my skin, I was in search of the perfect drink to combat my feelings of death. (Yes, I AM being dramatic.) I went for a chamomile, since it’s supposed to soothe your throat, and my coworker told me I should be drinking mint tea because it would help clear some of the crap out of my sinuses. Since I had already put the chamomile tea bag into my cup, I added the mint and poured water over both.
It. Was. Love.
The chamomile did exactly as it was supposed to and made my throat feel less like it had been sandpapered by an aggressive lumberjack. The mint helped me breathe from my nose again, which is a gift from the gods for someone battling a monstrous cold. And it tasted wonderful
It was at that moment I rediscovered my deep love of tea. It’s like a happy childhood in a cup. In fact, since that moment, I’ve discovered I am not only in love with tea, I am cripplingly addicted.
STAGE ONE: HM, THIS AIN’T HALF BAD.
You have just discovered that although it may not be jam-packed with caffeine, tea packs its own punch. You’re at that experimental stage where you’re like, “I wonder if I’ll like this tea,” and then you try it, and you love it, so you move on to trying another kind of tea. You maybe add some milk and sugar because it’s what you’ve always done and you’re also still gravitating to black teas because they’re familiar, but you’re beginning to feel the pull of magical other teas, too.
CONSUMPTION RATE: 1 cup per day.
STAGE TWO: ON THE GREEN.
Everyone knows green tea kicks ass and you can find all kinds of information on the internet about how it’s good for you and might help you lose weight and all that. You feel pretty bad ass because green teas are typically taken with no milk and sugar, just green green goodness. Once you’ve tried your basic green tea, you start going crazy with it, treating yourself to tea with lemongrass, or mint, or both, and before you know it, you’re downing at least a cup a day.
CONSUMPTION RATE: 1-2 cups per day.
STAGE THREE: HERB ME, BABY.
The wonderful world of herbal teas calls to you and you answer that call because tea fucking rocks. You feel giddy because for the first time, you’re skipping milk entirely and just adding a tiny dash of sweetness to that bad boy. Maybe you’ve even switched to honey instead of sugar just to be that much closer to nature. There’s an entire world of fruity teas and minty teas and all kinds of crazy rooibos teas and you’re keen to give them all a go.
CONSUMPTION RATE: 2-3 cups per day.
STAGE FOUR: THIS IS MY TEA COLLECTION.
You are giving in to the goddess of tea. You don’t just reach for any old orange pekoe box on the grocery store shelf, you take time to read the boxes and consider what particular flavor and caffeine level you’re going for. Your apartment is slowly being taken over by different boxes of tea and you’ve invested in a tea pot so you can maximize your consumption. The tea siren has called to you and you are drifting toward the rocks. CONSUMPTION RATE: 4+ cups per day.
STAGE FIVE: I AM TEA. WE ARE ALL TEA.
You know you’ve reached peak level of your tea addiction when you are helping create your own tea. You’re not just interested in pouring hot water over a bag of leaves, you want to help choose which leaves are in that bag. You’re not quite a sommelier yet, but you are drifting towards that type of education. And now that you’ve attained true tea addict status, you want to share your love of tea with the world! Tea is wonderful, tea is love inside a warm cup and it’s better than anything. CONSUMPTION RATE: Immeasurable, for you are one with tea.