There is something romantic about brooding over your latest literary endeavor over a steaming hot cup of tea. It’s wonderfully grown-up, sipping tea and looking down on the lowly coffee drinkers. What’s truly great is the variety of tea that’s available. My favorites are black teas — robust breakfast tea, soothing chai, tangy earl grey — but there’s a whole spectrum of green teas, white teas and red teas to choose from. There is choice and room for experimentation within the walls of a white ceramic mug. I love the sophistication and the assortment, but what I really love is the way it kick starts my day.
I never enjoyed coffee, no matter how much I tried to drown it in milk and sugar. Still disgusting. I went my whole life without much caffeine, but in college I found that I needed a boost.
And so I went to Ireland.
To be fair, I didn’t go to Ireland on a quest for tea; it was a lucky discovery I made purely by accident. After hours upon hours of traveling in airplanes, buses and taxis, I was ready to collapse. My saving grace was a cup of brown liquid. To this day, I don’t know exactly what kind of tea it was (in Ireland, tea is just tea, but it tastes a lot like what we know as Irish breakfast tea). All I know is that it was love at first sip.
From then on, I’ve become something of a tea snob. I’ve tried dozens of teas. Teas in bags. Loose leaf tea in infusers. I’ve tried it straight and with honey, sugar, milk or lemon. Hot and iced. Steeped for different lengths of time. It’s great, no matter what I do to it. It’s a beverage for all seasons.
The truly extraordinary thing about tea is that it isn’t just dry leaves and hot water. It’s an experience. Tea requires patience. You have to wait for the whistle of the kettle as the water reaches a boil. You have to wait for the tea to steep and darken. It gives you time to think or converse. Available anywhere in the world, it is at once universal and personal.
Also, it’s delicious. It may not have the caffeine karate chop of a cup of joe, but it more than makes it up for it in class. Maybe that’s why we tea enthusiasts like it so much. We feel cooler, more mysterious and smarter as we’re shrouded in the steam that rises from our tea. The point is, we love tea. Tea is more than a drink. It’s a lifestyle and a culture; maybe even a cult. And I’m proud to be a card carrying member.
Tea drinkers of the world, unite!
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I wax philosophic on the merits of my beloved caffeinated beverage in 140-character sips on Twitter, where my fellow loose leaf enthusiasts know me as @jonnyeberle. We can also let the conversation brew in the comments below.