Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Tea and Me

[memories evoked by the Weekend Wordsmith prompt "tea"]

I didn't drink tea. The first tea I knew of was iced tea, drunk by nearly everyone I knew in the summer. I didn't like it. With or without sugar didn't matter, with or without lemon. It just wasn't my thing.
When I was in Girl Scouts, we learned to make Sun Tea by putting tea bags in a large glass container that would sit in the hot summer sun for a long time. Since this was just another way to make iced tea, I wasn't really impressed.

Then I clued in to my dad making tea at home. He would put a kettle on the stove to boil, then he would select tea from tins and fill a teaspoon-infuser with his selection (or a mix of them). The gizmo fascinated me. It was like a spoon with holes in it, with a hinge on one side and a holey top that latched over the tea leaves. Then he poured boiling water into the empty teapot and let it sit for a minute to warm it up. Then he would empty it out and put in the tea, followed by more water to start steeping. Most of the time, I didn't like that tea much better.

I don't know who introduced me to flavored teas and then herb teas. Perhaps it was on that week-long vacation, when I just didn't feel up to skiing one day and I spent the day with my non-skiing mom instead. We had a late breakfast and I don't know if I looked poorly or what, but the waitress asked if I wanted Chamomile tea. I don't remember if I tried it then or later, but it was definitely not like the tea my dad had.

When I was about 12 years old, my family took a cruise in the Caribbean on a Greek ship with a lot of Americans. My brother and I were the only kids on the whole boat. We had a lot of adventures but I remember afternoon tea. Every day at 4pm they served tea in the lounge. Not only tea, but also cookies. I learned that I liked lemon and sugar in my black tea. My brother liked milk and LOTS of sugar. We both liked the cookies.

And thus began my love of tea. I don't like all teas - I am somewhat picky. And I don't need the caffeine, so I tend to pick the de-caf varieties (except for those rare mornings when my brain just doesn't seem to start at work and I make a cup of English Breakfast Tea). I somehow never learned to like Earl Grey, and green tea is wasted on me.

There are some teas that I love to smell, even though the taste is pretty pale. I found an almond-based one once. Another in this category is a jasmine tea - delightful to smell, but it really tasted like I was trying to drink a sweet flower!

But now one of my biggest delights on vacation is to wake up slowly, then make a cup of herb tea and sit on the porch watching the day begin. There are evenings when a cup of Sleepy Time tea (mostly chamomile and mint from Celestial Seasonings) is just what I want.

And in the last couple of years I have discovered chai. I have never made my own from scratch (I will some year) but I am particularly fond of Stash Decaf Chai Spice. It has lots of spices, but no black pepper (I don't like the dry end-bite that the pepper tends to give). With milk and sugar - yum!

Who would have thought that the girl who didn't like (and STILL doesn't like) ice tea, would grow to like so many tea beverages?


Bonnie Jacobs said...

Thanks for the memories, the TEA memories. I'm posting it now at Weekend Wordsmith.

Pauline said...

An ode to tea - how delightful.

Loose black tea flavored with blackberry is my favorite unless I happen to be drinking Yorkshire tea sent over by a friend from Great Britain and then that's my favorite unless someone offers me a cup of Constant Comment flavored with orange or a glass of iced peach tea...

Tea is my wake me up, just before bed, pick me up in the afternoon beverage. A touch of honey, a dollop of milk (in the unflavored varieties) and I'm in drinkable heaven. Sipping a cup now as I peruse your blog - thanks for the comment on mine :)

sister AE said...

Thanks, Bonnie.

Pauline - I had forgotten about Constant Comment. I do like that one!