Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Beverage Ritual

Long ago, in a life far, far away, there lived a former version of myself. One who had plenty of time in the morning. I actually woke up a good forty-five minutes early in order to enjoy my daily ritual: a proper cup of tea. Golden Assam Tips, a hearty English or Irish breakfast tea, Darjeeling...these names bring back sweet memories. I would recall the names of teas past with the romance one would experience recalling the names of former lovers.

Teas are the first loves of my life, in so many ways. Good friends, dependable, all with their own qualities, wonderful on their own but marvellously adept at being comfortable with a bit of sugar and milk. Creamy, dreamy, that first cup of tea in the morning. Time belonging solely to me and the tea-- ideal time to gather thoughts or to space out, staring at a favorite painting and petting the cat.

Here is the Western World modern tea ritual:
  • Run cold water for the brita. Wait for it to filter. Contemplate dreams from the night before.
  • Pour a fresh kettle of water; place on stove to heat to a boil. In the meantime, fill teapot and cup with hot water. Smile to yourself that you haven't given up on the finer things in life, one of them being a warm cup for your tea.
  • As water comes to a boil, use one heaping teaspoon of loose leaf tea per cup you are going to make. As I was always up first, one was all I needed.
  • Pour boiling *not hot, but rapidly boiling* water over the tea leaves. Cover, set timer to steep for five minutes. Get your cozy spot ready on the chair or couch of your choice.
  • DING! Pour your tea through a strainer into your warmed cup, then add desired condiments: sugar, milk or lemon. Clasp your warm cup in your hands, find your cozy spot, and enjoy the quiet.

Now with my new life, baby calls, but I usually have time for a small french press of decaf. It still feels like a ritual, still keeps me sane. Only this ritual is much less reflective.

  • Run water through the brita. Wonder if baby is going to wake up with the noise. Race to use the bathroom while brita is filtering.
  • Put kettle on stove. Go back upstairs to check if baby is still breathing.
  • Kettle boiling. Take kettle off heat. Scoop out one tablespoon expensive water-process decaf per cup the pot will hold. Remember, one standard cup of coffee is considered two by European standards. We are Americans. There is no time for teeny cups.
  • Pour water over grounds, stir, cover. Set timer for four minutes. Wonder if ticking timer will wake baby.
  • DING! Pour coffee, add condiments: milk and sugar. Stir, race upstairs carefully and sit with cup of coffee, sipping contentedly while baby sleeps. Watch the baby breathing and realize how life changes and rituals adapt.

Be thankful for decaf. It keeps me sane.

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