Sunday, October 08, 2006

Tea For One

So, I'm sitting here at work on a Sunday (don't ask), and thinking lots of things, hateful and otherwise. My mind is doing a fair bit of grumbling about lack of sleep, potential missed football games, and the general unfairness of it all. I'm cursing Microsoft PowerPoint, InFocus LCD projectors, and debating the wisdom of holding financial board meetings on a weekend. But, as I sit here mumbling to myself and sipping on a cup of coffee, do you know what I'm really thinking? I'm thinking, "Hey man, tea is, like, SO back - and in a big way."

A couple of things have led me to this conclusion. The first, and most obvious, are the health benefits of tea that all manner of people are spouting on about from on high. The medical community is praising tea for its high levels of antioxidants (I've never really been clear on what antioxidants are, but I hear they're good for you, and I think they might help prevent certain type of cancers - so that's cool, then.) Not to be outdone, lots of Eastern religions and philosophies are saying, "Yup, yup. See there? I told you so, sucka", and showing how tea has been an integral part of their practice for many a moon. It would appear them chilled out Buddhists have a point too, as now modern science is showing that tea alleviates stress - and isn't there too much stress in our world? Hear Hear. Wouldn't it be cool to take a sip of black tea and just sit back and sigh a big, "AHHHHhhhhhhh." See? Now we can.

Another reason for the increase in popularity is the influx of "tea bars", for lack of a better term, popping up around town. Places like Tealuxe and Teavana (former is better than the latter, in my opinion) are doing darn good business. I'm a frequent patron of both places, and rarely do I not encounter a line when I go to purchase my loose-leaf. Plus, it doesn't cost $3.50 a cup and they have TONS of different varieties. Let's face it - there's only so much you can do with coffee. Yeah, you can market it towards the seasons and serve it with mint or pumpkin or mocha, but underneath it all it still just tastes like coffee. But tea? Jesus, you can turn anything into tea. Blueberry Oolong, Gunpowder Green, Irish Breakfast, Pomegranate White, etc... Just throw it into a porous filter and let it sit for a couple of minutes. A couple of friends of mine in college regularly did this with mushrooms, to great effect. Plus, each tea has it's own distinct flavor so you don't have to worry about getting bored with the same old taste.

But perhaps the biggest reason for tea's resurgence (touched upon briefly before) is that people are seeing it as a viable alternative to coffee. Several years ago, I decided to go the black tea route in the morning, for reasons already mentioned above. However, towering above all those incentives was the simple fact that I didn't like what coffee did to me physically - namely, get me wired to the gills and make me pee with great frequency. I don't have to look very far to prove it was a smart decision, either. I'm drinking coffee right now - Green Mountain Coffee's Fair Trade Sumatran Reserve, to be precise - and I'm bursting out of my skin. (Note: Try and ignore the hypocrisy for a moment, if you can. My employer has shamefully run out of tea on this fine Sunday, so I was left with no other option.) My eyes are wide open, and in the past twenty minutes I've had to go to the bathroom twice. Hell, even my nose is twitching. No joke. I'm a regular Elizabeth friggin' Montgomery. That's the other think I don't like about coffee. Drink too much of it and you start getting all sorts of weird facial tics. Muscles you never knew you had will start tap dancing. It's different for everyone, but in my case it'll usually be the nose, the right eyebrow, or the left side of my left eyelid. Drinking a beverage that makes me look like I have a mild case of epilepsy... well, there's something wrong there, wouldn't you say?

So, while not eliminating coffee altogether, I'm sticking with tea as my caffeinated beverage of choice. I like it black in the morning (straight, no chaser), maybe a little green in the afternoon (like Ireland and Kermit), and herbal at night (no, not that kind of herbal, smart ass. Sleepytime, calm type herbs.) With any luck, I'll live a long, happy, seizure free life filled with ragin' antioxidants and a lack of stress - executive PowerPoint presentations notwithstanding.


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