A cup of memories

”Good tea is sweet enough to choke a bear”. Sabaa Tahir, ‘An Ember in the ashes’ series

‘No, it’s not’, I say, closing the book. ‘A good tea has enough flavour to burn a memory in your brain. Good tea is memorable enough to tie itself to an event in your life, even if it isn’t something big.’

After this little discourse I give myself, I take a sip of my teacup. Do you know those moments in your life when you just think, without a specific purpose? When you have a speech so powerful that you feel you could win a case at The Supreme Court? Well, my dear reader, this is one of those moments, so… ready, set, go!

Tea is more than flavoured water. To call it so it’s like saying coffee it’s bitter water (which it is, in my opinion, but that is beside the point). Drinking tea can be a way of meeting new friends, of remembering people, maybe even of developing new ideas.

Like, when I drink a cup of onion tea I remember the week I was sick and my mom made me drink it and then she gave me chocolates to make me feel better. If I choose ginger tea I think of the day my father made it for us and put a whole teaspoon of flavor into half a liter of water.

Now, I know I said I liked it packed with flavour, but not so much that it burns your throat. When I think of apple and cinnamon tea I remember my gymnasium desk mate, who used to bring a whole bottle of it hot to school in the morning. In the cold winters, when our central heating was failing, I would steal his bottle and warm up my hands with its warmth. It would drive him crazy, and to make it even, he would steal my pencil or a notebook, and wouldn’t give them back to me until the end of the day.

When I think of basil tea, my mind goes to my grandmother’s garden, and the jar of small basil sticks that we have at home. If I think about camomile tea I remember dipping pieces of material into it and gently placing them on my eyes to try to minimalise the bags under my eyes, or at least pretend that’s what it did (usually, I just wanted to be pampered).

I know these flavours aren’t the fancy ones people choose when drinking tea but they represent me, they show who I am. And who am I, if not the girl who laughs when she gets her tongue burned for dinking the tea too hot one night, and then forgets about it and drinks it cold the next?

Who am I, if not the girl who longs for a sip of that apple and cinnamon tea, but refuses to drink it cold? And who am I, if not the girl who almost spit out the tea at a school event because it was too sweet? And, the most important question, who am I, if not the girl who never, ever, says no to a cup of tea? (that ‘never’ is a bit subjective, it doesn’t apply when the tea is too sweet; I might love drinking tea, but I have standards)

When you drink that tea, you don’t just try to warm yourself up. It’s not just about the liquid hydrating you, it’s about the memories coming back to you, about all the places you’ve seen, about all the people you’ve been.

So, what do you think of when drinking a cup of tea? Does the wild berry tea remind you of a hunt for raspberries with your family? Do you drink the fancy aromas like paradise-fruit tea, or classic ones like green or black tea? Do you drink it with milk or honey or lemon? Do you choke when you see someone pouring three teaspoons of sugar into their perfect cherry tea?

I know these seem like a lot of questions, but you have the answers. You thought of them while I spoke of mine. You remembered the days when you would drink tea to calm yourself down, when coffee was off-limits for you.

They say that you have to drink coffee when you are an adult to keep yourself from falling asleep from exhaustion. I know some people love coffee, but to me, it tastes like adulthood, like great expectations. For now, I would like to drink my tea, which tasted like fun and games, love and hate, late nights and early mornings, school and parties.

So, how do you like your tea?

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