All right, I had a lapse in reason. I admit that. To give up coffee for lent was a ridiculous endeavor. Yet here I am, nearly three weeks in, and I live in a coffee dessert.
I can’t profess to be overly religious. Yet I do admire the metal vigilance needed to commit to abstaining during the season of lent. So much so that this year I set myself up for the ultimate challenge: No Coffee.
Now, if you’re a tea drinker, you probably think, what’s the big deal? Well, I’ve been java consumer since I was a wee little lad. In fact, I can recall my very first cup of coffee. Mexico City when I was sixteen. It tasted like someone stuck the whole coffee plant, dirt and all, into the cup. Horrific. Yet I stuck with it because I come from a long line of java drinkers. Many cups of espresso later, I learned to love the stuff.
I am a bit of a coffee snob, and the stuff I brew as home in my vacu-pot, is sublime. I purchase my coffee fresh from a pair of sisters in town who supply amazing beans. Why am I touting the coffee I can no longer drink? Because folks keep asking how I do it, all while clasping their Starbucks cup. It’s easy because I would sooner drink tea than slurp inferior coffee. To trouble doesn’t come from temptation, it’s the long haul.
Tea was a mystery to me. And I took on this forty day challenge so that I might know it better.
A week before Fat Tuesday, I visited Hessian Global Goods (my coffee connection) because they also sold loose leaf tea. The ladies were nice enough to suggest several brands? types? flavors? (I’m not sure how to classify tea). Anyway, they hooked me up with tea that would best suit someone coming from the realm of coffee. All of them black with plenty of caffeine.
I brewed single cups and started loading on the sugar and milk. It tasted god-awful. Like someone dunked a Pixie Stick in bitter liquid. I endured this saccharin concoction for over a week. Meanwhile, when I went to work, I tried tea bags. Since I teach elementary school, I couldn’t keep a supply of milk or sugar around and drank the tea black. This was even worse. The drink was insipid and weak. Oh, how I missed coffee.
Now, I did learn of a loophole in the whole lent system. Since Sundays are already a holy day, there is no need for fasting or suffering. Ergo, you can have your lented object again. And boy did I. That first Sunday, I fell upon coffee like a military coup, devouring it one long 10 cup run. But then Monday came and the pain of losing coffee yet again. This had to stop.
After much experimentation, I finally Googled the proper way to brew a cup of tea. After all, research has helped me with coffee and writing, why not with my arch-nemesis: tea. It turns out a fellow writer inadvertently saved me. Gail Carriger, taught me the correct way to brew, and drink, tea. You might know her from the Parasol Protectorate series.
Success. With her help, I was able to brew a cup of tea that was not only drinkable, but also satisfying. I’m not sure, but I believe it’s the ritual that helped. You see, I have all these ritualistic behaviors associated with brewing coffee. They are so strong, that I still visit the scene of the crime (so to speak) even on the many days I am forbidden to touch java.
It turns out there are plenty of “rules” about brewing a proper pot of English tea and these jive well with my psyche. In fact (I hesitate to even admit this) but on the following Sunday, something bizarre happened. Yes, I indulged in coffee in the morning (as was my right). Yet I yearned for a cup of tea. Yes TEA!. I brewed a pot that afternoon, despite being able to make more coffee.
Now, I am certainly not going to eschew coffee for tea. The sky will crack open and rain stars before that happens. Yet, I have grown to appreciate tea. Something that would never have happened without my coffee abstinence.
So in the true spirit of a newly-born tea drinker, I say: Long Live Mr. Tea.