I am reading a wonderful novel by Margaret Atwood called “The Blind Assassin”. Ms. Atwood is a skilled writer and often captures my imagination with small turns of phrase. Today’s mental excursion was prompted by:
“She made me a cup of chamomile tea, which tasted the way spoiled lettuce smelled….” This description is both amusing and accurate.
I live with and among tea drinkers. It is because of this passive exposure to tea culture that I know that chamomile tea is not tea at all but an herbal concoction. I am accepted into the society of tea drinkers because, while not a true believer, I am at least not a coffee drinker.
I drink iced tea on occasion. Having been raised in a family with southern roots, I knew the truth in the quotation from “Steel Magnolias” that iced tea is “The house wine of the South”. There was always a pitcher in the refrigerator when I was growing up. And it was always sweetened.
I will drink a cup of hot tea once in a blue moon if I am out for breakfast and there are no other options readily available. In our home we have a variety of teas; bagged and loose; black, white, green, and oolong. They originate in far away places like Japan, China, India, and Bolivia. These all have very specific instructions regarding water temperatures and steeping times. All this seems a little ‘fussy’ to me. Apparently adding three bags of Lipton Orange Pekoe to a sauce pan and bringing it to a full boil before combining it with sugar and cold water in the Tupperware pitcher that is already in the refrigerator is not the prefered method. Who knew?
I take comfort in knowing that I am not sitting in the drive-through line at Starbucks in a Hummer or Suburban (because that is what coffee drinkers drive) with the engine idling waiting to spend $5 or more for a cup of something coffee-ish. My morning caffeine of choice is Diet Coke. “Tis mother’s milk to me!” I confess I sometimes (OK, often) pull through the drive-through at a major, national fast-food chain (think golden arches) to buy one. But it only costs $1, the line moves faster, and my fellow soft drink buyers drive earth-friendly small cars and hybrids; just as God intended.
There is one negative association with tea that has developed in recent years with which I struggle. There is a loosely aligned group of politically active individuals (let’s call them “Nutbags”) who associate themselves with each other through a vague philosophical movement they refer to as “The Tea Party”. They have nothing to do with tea. Listening to their views is no party. Worse still, they have put me off the idea of tea parties. I guess that is fair in a way. They probably don’t feel comfortable describing their last little get-together (think klan rally) as ‘a gay old time’. I can live with that.