Sunday, March 4, 2012

Out Sick, or, Fueling the Writerbeast

Other than writing, there is one thing that writers frequently excel at: procrastination.

Case in point: I should be working on one of my ongoing projects (two of which need written and two need editing), or one of my knitting projects (two of which are so far past the deadline it's not even funny anymore), or finishing the library book that I've exhausted the renewals on and am still less than half done with, or refreshing my memory on The Hanged Man's Ghost so I can write that review I promised Missouri ages ago, or working on the next "How do you write" blog post that should have gone in this space instead.

But instead, I thought I'd talk to you all about tea.

This is partially because I have only left my bed to go to work this week, having been laid up with a fever and sore throat that necessitated a lot of tea and ice water drinking. I've spent most of this week writing and knitting and need a bit of a break--a tea break, if you will. I'm also in the middle of sampling a new tea I picked up at work, and, well, I thought I might warn you all.

This is the tea corner of our little apartment:

Into that cramped, awkward space we have no less than fourteen varieties of tea, plus three different kinds of hot chocolate (this is what comes of having two writers/anglophiles in the house).

One might argue that this is an awful lot of hot beverage options. After all, don't most people just buy a bag or a can of their favorite coffee and leave it at that?

Like a woman and her shoes, never come between a writer and her tea, unless you want to hear a justification of every single one (but I'll be nice and just give you the highlights):

One of my favorites is this vanilla creme spice I bought at work and have not seen since. It's very sweet and just perfect on it's own. I like to have a cup before bed sometimes, or when I want something sweet without resorting to junk food.

Around that same time I bought a can of pumpkin spice. This one I drink mostly in the fall for obvious reasons, and with a little cream and sugar it tastes like pumpkin pie.

Inside that blue tin is a selection of green teas, my favorite of which is the mint green. These were a gift, and I don't drink them often. There is a packet of oolong in there though, that I've been wanting to try.

Most of what is left is the result of our Never Ending Quest for True British Tea, which is difficult to find in our corner of the world. For the uninitiated, let me explain:

While traveling the UK and Ireland in college, Missouri and I developed the habit of stopping every day for a cup of tea at various cafes around London, Bath, Dublin, and Edinburgh. It's a wonderful tradition that we happily took up, sampling the various treats that afternoon tea entails. On our return to the States, we were devastated to find that none of the teas available in the grocery store were up to par, coming out bitter when allowed to steep, and too weak when the bag was removed early. Thus began our quest.

Thankfully, I work for a retailer that gets a lot of imported snack food, and that allowed us a chance to sample several varieties. For a while the favorite was Oxbridge Afternoon Tea (for which I cannot find an online purveyor), until Missouri was gifted with a box of Ahmed by a client, and it is amazing. Our one remaining concession to American black tea is the Luzienne, which is reserved only for iced tea. (Missouri's recipe, which is WONDERFUL: 1 kettle boiling water, poured over 2 trays of ice, 4 tea bags, and 1.5 cups of sugar. Stir until everything melts/dissolves. Slice 2 clementines in half, squeeze the juice into the pitcher and drop the halves in. Put in the fridge, and serve chilled).

Whatever you do, don't let that box of London Cuppa fool you. It does not taste like the English tea a know, and has the bitter aftertaste of teas from this side of the pond.

My favorite way to drink tea? Black tea with two sugars with cream, if you please, or just honey for an herbal or green tea out of one of these cups. They're imitation, but the pattern matches an heirloom set of my mother's almost exactly. I found the set of six, plus two creamers and sugar bowl at a local thrift store for $10.


  1. Very good. I too like a good cup of tea and find I am always searching for just the right one. I never had the pleasure of visiting the UK and sampling perhaps the world's best teas. I need to give Missouri's recipe a try. I sounds super.
    If I am not a writer does that mean I cannot be a procrastinator?

  2. I forgot something. I do sincerely hope you feel better soon.