Jan 14, 2009

On Tea Drinking

By nature I am a coffee drinker, and by coffee drinker I do not mean the sort of latte-cappuccino-skinny-sprinkle-of-nutmeg kind. I mean the hardcore, high-caffeine, microwave the pot made yesterday kind of coffee drinker, the "69 cents beats 99 cents" consumer who eschews taste for effect.

A coffee drinker with one purpose, which is to ingest as much liquid caffeine as he can without alkaloid-overdose jitters.

Yet there are times when a hot cup of tea sounds especially inviting, like during my current bout of laryngitis. There is a soothing sensation with the consumption of tea that coffee cannot match, and I prepared my first cup of tea in many months this afternoon.

While the Lemon Earl Grey teabag steeped, I paused to inhale the steam from the boiling water, allowing the vapors to radiate throughout my sinuses. Earl Grey, for non-tea drinkers, contains oil of bergamot; while there are dubious pharmaceutical claims made about this citrus oil (including its use as fat burners), its aroma certainly perks up the senses and calms the mind. As I absorbed the tea vapors, my iPod changed to Pink Floyd's "Shine on You Crazy Diamond." At one point in my life I might have wowed by some perceived alignment of pan-dimensional forces, but for today I just enjoyed the moment.

I keep the teabag in the hot water as long as possible, preferring a strong and bitter tea over a languid, warmed over brew. Normally I avoid additives, but today I added a teaspoon of honey to soothe my irritated throat. A lecturer can lose most any appendage, but the inability to speak is a deal-breaker, unless you arrive prepared with a voice synthesizer. Tomorrow will be the true test of tea as a laryngitis palliative, as I am scheduled to deliver over four hours of lectures, though thankfully I have several hours between each class to allow my ravaged vocal cords to recuperate.

If not, I have a bottle of vile-but-effective Buckley's Cough Syrup as a backup.


Lisa Renee said...

I drink coffee in the morning but in the winter after the morning or times like now when I'm fighting something similar to what you are, I'm a tea drinker.

When you are sick a nice decaffinated green tea (Celestial Seasonings has a great mix) works really well. There are also some great loose leaf teas, one in particular that I'm fond of is from Sri Lanka called, Ceylon black tea. You do of course have to have at least a mesh strainer if you don't have the whole teaball and tea pot, but that's one of my favorites. I've found it's actually faster using the loose leaves to brew tea because of the steeping time.

It's also fairly inexpensive, one large box is under $4.00 and makes quite a bit of tea.

historymike said...

I've been reading a lot about the loose tea method, Lisa, and dedicated tea drinkers insist that this makes a better quality cup of tea.

Agreed also that loos tea is much cheaper than pre-bagged tea. Thanks for the reminder!

mud_rake said...

My father mixed oolong and green in his porcelain pot and strained the leaves while pouring. I quite enjoyed tea ever since I was a lad, surely spoiling its essence with a healthy dose of milk and sugar.

Hot tea is my afternoon drink in winter, preferring English Breakfast, but just as easily sipping Tetley. With milk and sugar, of course.

Quite British, I would say, eh?

Wishing you a good throat on the morrow.

John Spalding said...

Coffee usually for me. But I do like Celestial Seasonings - Nutcracker Sweet - Holiday Tea. It has several different spices and flavors and actually tastes sweet.

Mad Jack said...

Tea? Why?

I quit smoking some years back, but I still prefer coffee with a shot of Irish whiskey in it. Braces me for the morning, you see.

microdot said...

I have taken to drinking tea in the late afternoon...usually ceylon or english breakfast from a tea bag. After dinner, the ritual is a pot of loose leaf green tea.
Aside from that, coffee! In the morning and a cup after lunch and and expresso sitting on the sidewalk in a cafe...like I did today.

dr-exmedic said...

The only tea I don't drink black is Indian-style chai, boiled with milk and honey. Mmmmm....