Catherine Felegi is the founder and author of the blog Tea Love, a blog dedicated to all things tea-related. You can find this post and others on her page, http://cafelegi.wordpress.com/.
As far as tea goes, most people know I am a tea addict. Whether it be someone that I have known for years or someone that I have just met, the first thing that they learn is that I love my tea.
With that being said, what is the big deal with tea? Why love tea any more than coffee? Admittedly, I go through periods where I tend to drink more coffee than tea. Wouldn't it make sense to have a vibrant, zealot obsession with coffee instead?
The fact of the matter is, tea and I have had some wonderful experiences together and continue to do so. I'm in awe over how much tea has helped me in my personal life, compared to coffee, which likes to give me heart burn and heart palpitation.
So, this is a personal post, a "memoir" of why exactly I am so obsessed with tea.
I remember, as a child, being at my church at Coffee Hour. Adults mulling around, sipping from Styrofoam cups as they asked each other what they thought of the sermon, chatted about what the kids were up to, and lamented over not knowing what to cook for dinner that night.
I would watch the older women, usually in their seventies or eighties, go over to the hot water urn, pour out their scalding water, and grab a little yellow and white bag. Curious, I went over and saw they were brewing bag after bag of Lipton's tea. Well, of course, just like every other little girl, I had my own hot pink and purple plastic tea set that I used to play with and, wanting to be an "adult," I grabbed a cup of tea for myself.
I hated it! It was bitter and funny-tasting. But, not wanting to waste anything (nasty-tasting tea included), I doused it with milk and sugar and soon found it appealing.
As time went on, my tea versus milk and sugar ratio decreased, and soon, I was enjoying a cup of unadulterated black tea.
Time past and my love for tea remained surprisingly stable. I dabbled, I sipped, but never really heavily drank. For me, it was still milk, water, and juice.
Then, I was introduced to the Asian Food Market in Green Brook, New Jersey. The grand array of boxes of 25-100 bags of tea, flavored past my wildest dreams in all different forms. There were plum teas, green teas, hibiscus teas and white teas. I witnessed loose tea, tea bags, powdered teas. the whole thing astounded me. I bought a few teas that I knew I would not find elsewhere and brought them home.
Soon, tea became my relaxer, my comforter, my Zen. When I was depressed, the tea pot would boil. Every time, like clockwork, after cleaning my house from top to bottom and completing heavy work, I would light a sweet-smelling candle and sip on some tea as I embroidered and watched my favorite TV shows. Tea was rarely used in the morning; it was not meant to wake me.
Not only would tea be used to relax me, I would use it before I turned to medicines when I got sick (which is rare, since I hardly get sick). Normally, I do not need to turn to pills. Now, this is not to say that you shouldn't, but it definitely was worth it to me.
My knowledge for tea expanded the more I drank it. Why did the rice tea make my mouth dry? Why did some tea taste bitter when I brewed it for too long? Soon, I wanted to write a book on tea. I started exploring different teas and sampling different tea places, including Tea Spot, InsaniTea, and Teavana. My obsession for tea grew.
Not only that, my passion to share tea with others grew. On October 20, 2011, I posted my first blog post and quickly became known as "the tea girl" among friends, family and acquaintances. When a co-worker went to the hospital, she was overjoyed to find a tin of matcha tea on her desk when she came back and we formed a quick bond. Another co-worker was excited when I introduced her to the world of loose teas. My friend's daughter requested that I make her a custom Tea Love necklace for her birthday. Friends who suddenly became homeless, lost, or depressed knew that they could come to my house for a warm bed and a hot cup of tea while they worked to get their lives back together.
My love for tea has not died and my quest to learn will never end. No matter how many times I have read how tea came into being, I will always listen to a new story, hoping to gain a new insight or learn a new passion for the beverage. I can't become a tea snob and hope to never be, as that would close me off from the "more common" teas that can still cause a tingling pleasure throughout my being.
This is a short "memoir" into my love of tea. I welcome you to share why you drink tea, why you love it and what memories you would like to share of the drink. Most of all, I welcome you to keep drinking in good health.