Some of my earliest memories of visiting and sharing involve a cup of tea-always black, as the herbal varieties and certainly green tea was not yet available and so much a part of the current culture.
My parents were largely coffee drinkers, and the pungent smell hanging loftily in the kitchen each morning turned me away from the percolator and the bitter grounds that were my duty to clean. I became puzzled over the importance of coffee in university life, the work place and in my friend’s kitchens.
In my first staff meetings, there were simply no alternatives to coffee, no juices offered, no water, no tea. It was as expected that you drank coffee as you were expected to breathe air. Thankfully in due time, someone had the sense to begin to incorporate more options for those of us who were non-conforming or who had regulated themselves down to one early morning cuppa.
When I was young, my mother offered the ultimate satisfaction-tea after the evening meal, and I suppose in an effort to feel grown I began to join in, sweetening it until it was palatable. Red Rose or Orange Pekoe were the tea brands that landed in the shopping cart and made their way into our pantry and into my future as I prepared a cup on cold winter afternoons and during my days as a student while my friends drank “sophisticated” coffee-based concoctions.
Tea was always the go-to for me, synonymous with comfort and contentment. I eventually branched out slightly and bought loose black tea varieties such as Versailles Earl Grey, Chai and Ceylon and have succumbed to the dolled up versions of “tea” on occasion that resemble authentic black tea like a simulation war game resembles an actual battle.
Strangely enough, it is my go-to photo prop for my photography. Somehow just placing a small cup somewhere in the composition elevates it, drawing the eye toward or away with the intent of conveying an emotion in the scene. The days without prepping a cup for drinking or a photo are fewer than not; loose leaves with their berries and florals floating lazily as their juices swirl and darken awaiting the first steaming taste.
Tea remains my constant and as I make my way through the varieties such as Matcha, Assam and Keemun, the consequences prove familiar- a catalyst for calming and comfort.
Do you have any memories of growing up with coffee or tea?