Spot of Tea?

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I’m not much of a warm-drink consumer. I prefer iced coffee to hot, cold apple cider to warm, and believe it or not, I love a glass of “cold cocoa.” (I make regular ol’ hot chocolate and then let it chill before adding ice cubes and whipped cream.) Yet, there’s something about a hot cup of tea which exudes comfort, especially during flu season.

But for me, I think part of the allure is simply getting to choose a “type” of tea.  And truth be told, I’m really only interested in the pretty colors of the teabags.  At a restaurant recently, after I had ordered iced tea, I was jealous that a friend, who had ordered hot tea, had the choice of all of the pretty little squares in a wooden box provided by the server. Would she choose the emerald-green square for jasmine tea, or the pink square for raspberry tea? Would she go with the bright red cinnamon tea square, or the bright, citrus yellow square for lemon tea? (You can imagine my disappointment when she chose the boring smoky Earl Grey square. It was like choosing vanilla ice cream at a Baskin-Robbins.)

When a British friend of mine recently visited, she was appalled at my selection of teas at home. Apparently, chamomile and orange spice tea weren’t going to work for her. In her prim British accent, she said, “Every proper home needs English Breakfast tea.”  I didn’t know the difference between English Breakfast tea and Sunny-Delight orange drink, but I certainly wanted to have proper home. (The truth is that my home is FAR from proper, considering I masquerade old ski posters  as “framed art.”) So, we went to the general store,  stocked up on English Breakfast tea, and drank up. The tea tasted fine, but the ugly packaging was a real disappointment.

The following Sunday, after my friend had left, I pondered the many types of tea at my grocery store. Perhaps it was time to care a little more about the taste of the tea leaves, and a little less about the marketing scheme of the tea company. But old habits die hard, especially when old taste buds don’t really care. (Triangular tea packets, oh my!) I eventually decided on a box of “exotic coconut” tea, complete with colorful swirl packaging. The box of tea bags looked like a Hawaiian souvenir, which of course, meant I had to have it.

I brought the tea home, and the following morning, I soaked a tea bag in boiling water in my favorite “Becky’s of Portland, Maine” mug.  I took a sip. The tea tasted like sunscreen.  But gosh darn it, that ripped tea bag was pretty in my trash.

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