This is actually a response to Brendan Leonard’s ‘Hey coffee, I love you’ post on his semi-rad blog. You could simply replace the word coffee with tea in Brendan’s post, but I thought it would be more fun to respond.
Coffee or tea, it doesn’t matter really, it’s all about drugs of choice. When one of my pals swam out of a class IV hole and went for his yellow box instead of a throw rope I totally understood. If that had been my box of tea I would have gone for it too!
When I was a baby I wouldn’t drink my milk until Mamgu added a drop of tea…I was good to go…it’s been pretty much the same ever since. If you are my friend, at some point, you will find me in your kitchen with one of your pans boiling water for tea (screw microwaves – not hot enough). And if you are a good friend you might even buy tea and keep it in your kitchen (just sayin’).
If the truth be told, I’m a tea snob, mea culpa. I like British Blend, not the crap they sell here to make ice tea and not that flavored Earl Grey stuff either (officer’s tea). But I’m not the only tea snob; I was teaching a kayaking class last year and made tea for me and my Irish co-instructor Laura. A week later I get a box of Irish tea in the mail with a note saying “try these”. Fair enough!
In the South it’s tough to find hot tea. I remember about 15 years ago going through a Captain D’s near the Ocoee (middle of the night, middle of nowhere, East Tennessee) and I saw wow, they have hot tea on the menu so I ordered it and the girl replied in this incredulous Southern accent “Hot tea? Is that ice tea without the ice?” (I can’t even begin to write how it sounded, but there were way more syllables when she said it!)
I like Starbucks because they have tea and milk and they at least attempt to make tea well (milk is super important – try it, you’ll like it!) Have you ever heard the expression “Always take the pot to the kettle, never take the kettle to the pot”? That‘s because to make good tea the water has to boiling, not just off the boil, but boiling. So Starbucks tea is hit and miss, but their caffeine is awesome. I can feel the hit when I drink a Grande Awake.
And my Doctor did talk to me about my tea consumption. Something about an odd looking EKG. Is 15 cups a day really excessive? I don’t think so, not if you’re British. He said stop and I’m thinking, not in this lifetime! So we compromised at 5 or 6 cups. And I enjoy tea even more!
I’m a kayaker and there’s a tradition of getting off the river and drinking a beer before heading home. I typically have a four, five or six hour drive and the last thing I need is a beer. I figured if I was able to make tea in a couple of minutes then that wouldn’t annoy anyone. I found a cheap and easy stove, a little kettle and then I made a box for them. The box had to be wood because I didn’t want the kettle rattling around and the stove has to go in there red hot. I always carry a spare cup in case of meeting fellow British or Irish people on a trip (“Aye mon, have ya got a brew on?”) I get compliments on the box from strangers, it’s kind of cool really, “nice box, did you make it?” They obviously don’t look too closely, I’m more of a carpenter than a cabinet maker, but I’ll take the compliment!
Last June we were climbing on Long’s Peak and I couldn’t take the tea box because it’s big and it’s not like we had Sherpa’s. We didn’t have winter climbing gear either so we headed for Chasm Lake. When we stopped for lunch I asked Mr. Kleen if I could borrow his Jet Boil. But, he’d left it behind to save weight! Oh bloody hell! Fortunately I had my survival kit with a couple of Hexi Blocks and an army surplus mug, I was able to make tea and so the day was saved! Yes, there is tea in my survival kit…I might die in the woods, but you will pry my cold, dead fingers from around an empty cup of tea!
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