“Coffee or tea?” she asks and then laughs as she interprets my pause. Accurately. “It’s okay — we have an espresso machine, I’m not offering you instant.”
And with that, I accept the coffee. My caffeine-addled brain anticipating the jolt. Addicted to all the fast, fast, fast — the more, more, more. Coffee suits my lifestyle. Cramming just a little bit more into each moment than is altogether healthy. Using that shot of espresso to push myself just that tiny bit further.
Tea isn’t like that. Tea is cosy and slow. Tea takes its time. It steeps and deepens and takes its sweet while to achieve full flavour. You don’t rush tea. It’s not the kind of drink you slam down so that you can get to the next thing. It’s the kind of drink that you take your time with. It goes well with books, chats, craft and late night television.
I seldom pay for tea. Too many cafes offer hot water and a tea bag and charge $4.50 for the pleasure. I’ll hand over my life savings for the elixir of caffeine, but when tea is involved I am miser. Tea is a drink I make myself or someone else makes for me. An act of generosity. Cheap and priceless.
Tea solves problems. I don’t know why or how that strange alchemy works, but it does. Hot, sweet tea calms frayed nerves in a way coffee never could. It is balm to wounded hearts. Particularly when its made with love by someone who cares. Something passes through tea from the person who makes it. A certain kind of kindness. You talk over tea. About important things as you pour another cup. Tea soothes sickness and souls in equal measure.
Over the past few months I have given myself far too much to do. I always do around the middle of the year. And instinctive reflex, a sub-conscious way of coping with difficult dates. It’s been all rush, rush, rush. All coffee, coffee, coffee. I haven’t given myself time for cups of tea and cosiness. For settling and reflection. And in all that busy-ness, I have had friends who needed me. Friends who really just needed me to stop and make them a cup of tea. It’s a sobering moment when you realise your coffee culture has edged out all of the tea and then someone needs you. When you rearrange your life in a slight panic and wonder at your priorities.
Tea is caring. Coffee is motivating. Tea is slow. Coffee is fast. Tea is happiest in a beautiful cup on a gorgeous saucer, fine china coated in flowers. Designed for sipping. Coffee is happy in a take-away cup. Designed for chugging. Tea allows rest. Coffee gets you through. Tea is pause. Coffee is push.
My life is full of coffee moments. And sorely lacking in tea moments.
I need more relaxed chats with friends. More time doing nothing. More pauses. Less pressure to get to the next thing and the next thing and the next thing. I need to find some rest in the moments themselves. Savouring things rather than rushing them. And allowing the spaces for nothing to widen so that when something new comes up, I don’t have to panic and grab a coffee to get me through. I could just make myself a cup of tea and carefully figure out where it all fits.
Are you a tea person or a coffee person or a little bit of both?