Making Tea.

I once heard a story—probably apocryphal—about a doctor and a writer going to their child’s kindergarten open house. All of the kids have to introduce their parents and say what they do for a living. Their daughter says: “This is my mom…she’s a doctor. And this is my dad…he makes tea.”

For some reason, the caffeine in coffee doesn’t do much for me. It’s black tea that can keep me awake and focused. I make tea first thing every morning. Then again after my afternoon nap. With half & half and raw sugar. One cup can last me a couple of hours. Which drives my fiendish dental hygienist crazy. She says it’s like soaking my teeth in sugar. So I keep a water bottle nearby and take a sip and half-hearted swish once in a while.

My tea-making will never get me into a Zen monastery, but I do have fairly rigorous standards. The water has to boil furiously. The cup or pot has to be warmed. And I always steep five minutes, even when they say three will do.

When I need more than a tea bag’s worth, I use loose tea. I buy it with the discrimination of a connoisseur and blend it with a heathen’s abandon. Those tea sacks or sachets are easier to use, but some kind of mesh insert is better. Forget the steepers that look like a spoon—you just can’t get enough tea in there unless it’s totally pulverized. 

Many writers have written about tea and, more importantly, it figures prominently in the lives of many of literature’s most important visionaries including The Mad Hatter whose tea party borders on bacchanalia, Mary Poppins who is served tea by penguins, and Winnie the Pooh who drinks it because Piglet insists that it will make “pooh feel like pooh again.” Of course, Adderall works too. In which case the story would go: “This is my mom…she’s a doctor. And this is my dad…he takes drugs.”