Sunday, February 12, 2012

Still Trying To Like Tea

For years now, I've been trying to develop a taste for tea.  Tea has so much to recommend it:  tons of antioxidants;  a strong aesthetic tradition and a world of adorable pots and cups--not to mention cozies-- to go with it;  not enough caffeine to keep me awake at night, and so on.

So why am I not drinking as much tea as I think I should?  Because I'm drinking coffee.

Compared to coffee, tea, whether green or black, lapsang-souchong, darjeeling, orange pekoe, Irish breakfast, or gunmetal, seems to me anemic, namby-pamby.  Even when sweetened, it never tastes like much more than slightly bitter H2O.  Whereas a good cup of coffee can take the place of dessert, can be almost as satisfying (if memory serves) as smoking a cigarette, can revive the flagging animus.  It tastes of chocolate, of red wine, and best of all, it tastes and smells strongly and unmistakably of what it is:  coffee.

During my recent years' immersion in British literature, I have read thousands of accounts of tea made, served, and drunk in every possible circumstance, from the sordid to the exalted.  And I am no closer to understanding its hold on the British, just as I do not--and never hope to--share their taste for marmite.

Perhaps there is nothing I can do about it.  Perhaps there are coffee people and tea people, just as there are dog people and cat people.  But I have loved and lived with both dogs (the coffee equivalent) and cats (more of a tea kind of pet), so I see no reason I shouldn't bridge the coffee world and the world of tea as well.

For years, believing that coffee was not good for me, I gave it up in favor of tea--usually green tea, never in a bag, made with water at the recommended temperature.  Every time I drank a cup, I wished it were coffee. Then this year, hearing that women who drank two or more cups of coffee a day were significantly less likely to be depressed than those who drank less or none, I threw myself back into the arms of coffee.  Black, strong and full of attitude, it leaves me, after each encounter, satisfied, exhilarated and a little shaky.


  1. Funny -- I do love a good cup of tea, but prefer coffee -- for the reasons you mention.

    However, I find that coffee, if I drink it after 10 am, gives me a stomach ache so if I need a pick-up in the afternoon I drink a strong cup of tea. My current favorite is Yorkshire.

    I also love Marmite. Really love it.

  2. I keep wishing I were a true tea drinker. The truth is whenever I make myself a cup, I will drink half of it. That's it. I never finish it. I like tea, so I don't really understand this. Except that by the time I do drink tea (afternoon), I've already had my fill of coffee.

  3. Replies
    1. Yes, I sometimes refer to myself as a closet anglophile.

  4. Indigo, maybe there's a support group out there for people like us?

  5. I think it's what you're raised with. I like them both, but think there are terrible examples of both. I'm thinking you're prompting another blog post as response - you're so provocative, Lali!

  6. I drink so much coffee my hair and skin smell like it sometimes. It's bad. I will drink herbal tea at night. But black tea? I have to load it up with so much sugar I might as well just not. I don't like the flavor. Mike says coffee smells like dirt, but tea smells like old leaves to me.

  7. I'm married to a non-coffee drinker myself. To him (though he doesn't remind me of it often) coffee smells like garbage...his parents' garbage that he had to take out when he was a kid.