I never drink coffee. I hate the way it tastes and I hate the caffeine jitters it gives me. I see all the articles people post on Facebook about the many health benefits of coffee, as well as the other articles about how caffeine will kill you. Sometimes I read them. Mostly, I don’t. It makes no difference to me. I am not part of the coffee culture.
My culture is tea. I love tea, and have devoted plenty of time and money to my tea education. Any generic Google search will reveal that tea is definitely its own culture, albeit a smaller one than coffee.
And so it was that I found myself paying far too much for tea at the Empress Hotel in Victoria, Canada about two months ago, and being completely shocked that they left the tea bag in the teapot. People, this is a mortal sin in my book, and many other tea enthusiasts will have my back on this. If you leave the tea in the water too long, it will turn bitter. Some people can handle bitter, some people even like it, but it is not proper and it is not okay with me. Nor my daughter, who wouldn’t so much as touch her favorite beverage.
While we were in Canada, I bought some loose leaf tea at one of Canada’s many tea shops. I bought three kinds I like – Ceylon, Darjeeling and Jasmine Green – and a tea towel that says, “Tea is the finest solution to nearly every catastrophe and conundrum that the day may bring.” Any search for tea on Pinterest will reveal hundreds of similar sayings on mugs and signs and towels. “If tea can’t fix it, it’s a serious problem.” “Tea: A hug in a cup.” “You can’t buy happiness but you can buy tea, and that’s kind of the same thing.” “Come, let us have some tea and continue to talk about happy things.” The calming and relaxed nature of tea is the focus of the culture, as opposed to coffee’s position as an essential life force.
After thinking about my tea experience at the Empress, what should have been the end-all, be-all of tea culture experiences, I realized something. I realized that I am not, in fact, a part of the tea culture.
First of all, I like my tea iced. Those that have gentrified their lives through the consumption of tea are drinking it hot. I remain among the hoi polloi. One cannot achieve such a calm, zen-like state with ice.
Second, most people don’t care quite so much about which kind of tea they drink. I’m limited to three or four kinds. Some, however, can sample all that the massive tea world has to offer, and they can probably finish what they buy without pawning it off on family members, even if it doesn’t measure up to their all-time favorite. Others might even drink (gasp!) herbal tea. Still others might try to make a less amenable tea more amenable through the addition of sugar or cream. I can abide no such additions, thank you very much.
No, somehow I’m too niche to fit within an already established niche. I don’t belong to the tea culture at large. As usual, I live in my own little world (of tea) with my own rules and regulations. I can buy the towels and the signs, but I am merely a pretender. But that’s okay. I wouldn’t want to be a part of any club that would have such a ridiculously picky person as a member.