My love affair with tea began at the tip of Northern Ireland, in a restaurant at Giant’s Causeway. My geology-minded cousin wanted to visit the site, so there we were, the four of us–my grandparents, my cousin, and me.
Once we had clambered among the rocks, it was time for lunch. The table was so small, we had to put the tea pot underneath the table! My grandfather ordered the tea, but when it came, it was hot. He had hoped for iced tea and asked if anyone wanted it; I did not think I liked tea but figured I should try it since, hey, I was in Ireland, land of tea and sheep.
I loved it, and I proceeded to drink my way through Ireland–with tea. I kept a journal, and at the end of our trip, I had had something like twenty-four cups of tea. That’s somewhere around six cups of tea a day!
Of course, when I returned home to Richmond, I could not keep consuming tea at that prodigious rate. Too much caffeine, not enough walking-everywhere-as-a-tourist exhaustion. But my love of tea remained with me for the next three years.
I read books on tea, collected teapots, gave a speech on the benefits of tea-drinking for speech class, bonded with my not-at-that-point boyfriend over mutual coffee dislike, frequented the tea store in Richmond, began every morning with a mug and like as not ended the day with the same.
I still love tea. But I have long wanted to drink decaffeinated coffee after dinner parties. It seems so elegant, the delicate white cups on their saucers, a dessert more refined than a brownie. A few months ago, I began to accept a half-cup of coffee at every catered event I attended. I mixed in milk and mounds of white sugar and sipped at it a few times, disliking the bitter taste but enjoying the sophistication aura of dessert coffee. Silly, I know. I feel the same way about cheesecake; I don’t like it, but it seems so refined!
And then I ordered a decaffeinated coffee from Starbucks. I managed to get about half of it down. Then came the decaffeinated vanilla latte from the Monon Coffee Company. Then the vanilla latte at the airport Caribou Coffee a mere week ago–the first caffeinated coffee drink I’d ever tried. I managed to drink most of the small size, wishing there were a half-cup size I could order.
Now I sit in Hubbard and Cravens, having tried my first mocha. And I want another. This might be the first coffee drink I really enjoyed… and I might have been craving coffee for a few days prior to the event.
Tell me now. Am I treading a dangerous path? Should I nip this coffee craving in the bud before it gets out of hand? I don’t want to have to have coffee in the morning to function. Tea is quite sufficient. And mixed coffee drinks are expensive. And I feel a traitor to tea. But the foam, the foam! Mmmm….