It all began one summer afternoon. I was barely 13 and suffering from an upset stomach. My grandmother introduced us. She said I'd feel better. And indeed I did. Then it became an everyday affair.
Soon, I would look forward to our encounter every day at 4:00 pm. Grandma always facilitated it. The warmth spread through me like golden sunlight, making me forget the world and it's woes. It was just us. I experienced the comfort of being cocooned in a snug embrace. The warm fragrance made me feel utterly relaxed.
Then one day I left for graduate school where I had to manage everything on my own. I missed my grandma terribly. But the magic she had introduced me to, was still a part of my life. In the cold pacific north west our encounters were more important than ever. In fact they became indispensable to me.
Because we met so much more often some of our encounters were rushed, routine and I started to take them for granted, and the magic was fading. Yet I could not do without them, or at least I never tried to find out how I would do, without them. The thought simply never occurred to me.
Some years later, soon after I was married, my husband decided to re-kindle the magic for me. For my birthday, he got me some excellent first flush Darjeeling tea, a kettle, a glass teapot and tea cup and an infuser. Yes it is my relationship with black tea (no cream, no sugar, no milk or any other additive), I have been talking about.
Once again tea drinking became something to cherish. As soon as I got home, I would set water to boil in the kettle and fill up the infuser with 2 teaspoons of tea leaves and place it inside the glass tea pot. When the kettle whistled, I would pour the water in to the teapot and slowly watch it turn golden brown. That is why a glass tea pot is awesome.
Then I'd pour the tea in to my glass cup and sit by the window where the late afternoon sun came streaming in and savour my tea. Just enjoy every sip and contemplate the day that had just gone by. My husband never liked tea and respected my alone time with it.
Just like a voracious reader loves reading everything but still enjoys certain books much more than others, I would drink any available black tea, but I definitely had my preferences.
Then came a very rough patch in our relationship. When I was pregnant, I had severe morning sickness and drinking tea made me nauseous. What a shock for me that was! Someone suggested ginger tea but I found that revolting. Fortunately these troubled times lasted only 10 weeks. No, my morning sickness lasted longer, but somehow after 10 weeks I could enjoy tea again. What a relief.
In the US, I found out that lots of drinks called tea, like chamomile tea and peppermint tea have nothing to do with tea leaves at all. Quite horrifying! Then there are rose, vanilla and other oddly flavoured teas including our very own Indian masala chai, that would throw my olfactory senses in to complete confusion.
My love for tea is quite well known to my family and friends, but not my fondness for trekking apparently. A friend of mine wanted to go on a trek with me when we were attending a physics conference. So he said “Hey, I've found this great tea house. It has lots of amazing varieties of black tea and they have tea cakes and stuff too. Want to go?”
“Sure. Sounds great.”
“But we will have to trek up a mountain to get there.”
“Awesome. I love treks.”
“Really? I went through all this trouble to find a mountain with a tea house on top because I thought you wouldn't agree to a trek and I'd have to entice you.”
“Oh! Lets trek up the one with the tea house anyway. I'd love to check it out.”
My friend was fuming about all the time he had wasted :D
After my first baby was 9 months old, my in-laws wanted us to take a trip with them. They usually like going to hill stations and love treks. My father-in-law pitched. “Do you want to go to Darjeeling? That's where all the tea you love so much comes from. Don't you want to see it? We can take a trip to a tea plantation too.”
“Sure I have been yearning for a trip anyway.”
“Really? I racked my brains and came up with Darjeeling, so you wouldn't be able to resist, in case you thought you were not ready to travel and trek with the baby yet.”
“Oh! I love walking in hill stations. I have the strap on baby carrier so we should be able to manage and we can take turns at carrying her.”
“Sure. So you would have agreed to any hill station?”
“Yeah, but let's go to Darjeeling anyway. I have never been there and a tea plantation does sound tempting.”
Ever since we became parents, my husband always calls my kettle my oldest baby. Because its whistle, is about as loud as the sound of the baby's crying, but usually gets a more cheerful response.
Everyone knows, choosing birthday gifts for me is easy. If you can't think of anything else, there is always tea related paraphernalia to fall back on.
I am also happy to report that, I am not addicted to tea. Motherhood has sometimes presented crazy days with no time for tea, and I survived them without any withdrawal symptoms.