Over the past year or so, I’ve quite fallen in love with just about every variety of tea. Now this may slightly surprise some of you as more of you will associate me with coffee than tea and this is not an incorrect assumption. I have an intimate knowledge of the section in my nearest Asda which holds the delights that are coffee beans and ground coffees. There was a time in my life that my attempt to go cold turkey on coffee for lent resulted in vicious headaches and frightful bad moods because I used to drink so much, but that’s a story for another day I feel.
However, tea has conquered my heart after years of being “that accursèd drink”. I now quite enjoy a cup of tea if coffee no longer takes my fancy.
I’m quite a bit of a tea snob though. I prefer tea made from loose leaves and with a funny foreign name and I don’t take milk. I’m not as snobby as I used to be though. I used to hate the ‘typically British’ idea of a cuppa. The very thought of an unspecified type of tea being stuffed into a bag and then having boiling water sloshed about it before (or perhaps after for you prelactarians) some cow juice was plonked in regardless of the strength of the brew or my mood at the time. I think I even had nightmares.
Nowadays I’m quite partial to your average cup of tea though. After all, it’s such a simple drink and it does help to calm me down. It amuses me how people frown at the volume of coffee I like to drink and mutter something about it being bad to be addicted yet they can’t seem to go ten minutes without having a cup of tea. In fact, these same people become very agitated when the proper facilities for making tea are not available to them and they complain as if it’s a basic human right to be served tea every quarter of an hour. Who’s the addicted one eh? *rant over*
A cup of tea is also the safest thing to drink when I find myself round at somebody else’s house. Were I to ask for coffee, the chances are I’d be given instant coffee (made with boiling water no doubt) which, as every person who claims to love coffee will know, is not coffee.
Maybe instant coffee was coffee once, long ago. It was roasted and ground lovingly and then served to some very nice people who enjoyed it and it brought them closer together as a couple*. The used coffee grounds were then tossed out of the window of the whitewashed simple brick building in Ecuador where they were trodden underfoot by passing street children into the dark soil on the ground, urinated upon by some South American sewer rats before being gathered up and packed into a cold, damp bag. Then the grounds were burned to a crisp in the searing heat of the sun upon the Sahara desert. Dehydrated and rather confused about the sudden change of continent, the remains of the coffee beans gave up the ghost in the vain hope that nothing else would be done to them. Wrong. The rotten carcasses of the coffee grounds, along with the soil, dirt, sand and various lethal pathogens left behind by the rats were then carted off to Belgium, the land where all good things go to die, and there the sad conglomerate of coffee-ish remnants were freeze dried and then packed into jars to be sold on our supermarket shelves. No thank you dear, I’ll have a cuppa. White. One sugar.
*The heartwarming tale of Eduardo and Anita goes something like this: Once upon a time, there lived a man named Eduardo and he loved a pretty young woman by the name of Anita. Being only a poor Ecuadorian coffee farmer, he felt that he had very little to offer Anita and very little in the way of means to provide for the two of them should they want to be married.
One day, Eduardo invited Anita round to his house to talk. He intended to tell her that he could no longer continue to see her romantically as he was without any way of being a breadwinner for the both of them.
Inviting the lovely Anita into his home, he asked her if she would like a drink. She replied that she would love to have a cup of coffee and that she would make it. She took some of the beans that Eduardo had harvested and roasted the previous day and ground them while singing Eduardo a beautiful love song. Pouring all of her heart into creating the perfectly brewed coffee, she served it to the handsome young Eduardo and watched as he took the first sip. The coffee was so lovingly made that it tasted like a cup of beautifully distilled paradise.
“Anita!” Eduardo exclaimed, “This coffee is divine! We should open a coffee house and sell this heavenly drink. People will come from miles around just to have a taste of Anita’s Angel coffee!”
And so they did. They opened a little café on the street with a church at the top and the coffee plantation at the bottom. The money they made was more than enough to support them both and a little while later Eduardo and Anita were married at the church on the top of the hill on a serene summer evening.
They’re still there. They have three children who manage the café as Eduardo and Anita are now too old to wait tables. Anita still makes the coffee though and if you go there, you can hear her sing as she pours her love into the cup of coffee she’s making. Just for you.