I used to get a lot of stomach aches as a kid – I tended toward anxiety and I was the youngest, so I was a little bit of an attention hog. Usually, they came in the middle of the night (conveniently when the best Nick at Night shows were on), so my mom would let me stay up until it felt better and she always gave me a cup of chamomile tea. It always did the trick of settling my stomach, but I had to gag it down – I hated it.
I’m not a coffee drinker either, so late nights and early mornings in high school and college were always accompanied by a Diet Coke. I remember cracking one open at 7:30 am when I was a camp counselor after a late summer night out with friends. Nothing like trading in the healthy antioxidants in tea and coffee for chemically goodness.
I still enjoy a Diet Coke on occasion – if that’s my worst indulgence, I’ll take it – but I have come to love tea also. The jury is still out on coffee.
Strangely enough, tea has made me reflect on how I move through the world. Brewing tea correctly takes patience, a trait I’m often short on. To make the best tea also requires being aware, and knowing when to take the leaves out and stop steeping.
One of my favorite parts of our trip to Turkey was sharing a cup of Turkish tea at the end of every meal. Even when it was 90 degrees, and we were desperate for air conditioning, we always found pleasure in a cup of hot, dark tea. Tea encourages you to linger, stay a while.
And depending on where you are, tea is enjoyed so differently. I’m pretty sure you won’t find any tiny, crustless tea sandwiches or adorable tea cozies at a Japanese tea service. I’m equally sure you won’t find the same kind of beautiful, precise presentation at an English tea house as you do in a Japanese one.
I love tea’s adaptability – to be exactly what you need it to be. It can wake you up, calm you down, comfort you when you’re sick, refresh you after a long day in the sun. Sitting down over a cup of tea seems to bring out the best in people.
So now I’m a faithful tea drinker, mostly herbal and green, saving black for before long runs so I can reap the full caffeine benefits. I know there’s so much more to know about tea, and that there’s a wealth of information here in San Francisco – I can’t wait to explore it and see what tea teaches me next!