March 31, 2012

Suits Me To A Tea

Tea. Such a short, simple word. But one with such a sense of history, as it has been around far longer than coffee, and has played a memorable role in at least a few important scenes of our past. Boston Tea Party, anyone?

Nowadays, however, tea always seems to take a backseat to coffee, at least here in the U.S. I can only surmise the reason is primarily because of the extra caffeine boost from coffee, in a society that drives itself to the brink in pursuit of money, status and the "perfect" life. Once espresso was introduced to the masses, the quest for buzz only got more intense...and we Americans are nothing if not really good at excelling at overindulgence!

But that's not really what this is about. No, not on this very last day of the month of March, when I'm again squeezing in a post that has been brewing (pun intended, of course) in my head for days.  No, it's about how much I have come to really enjoy and appreciate tea, and the new role it has begun to play in my life.

I'm not a coffee drinker and never have been. I watched almost all of my friends get addicted to it in college and be complete grumpyheads in the morning without it. It took me longer than it should have to realize why so many people complained about "getting going" in the morning and I found myself grateful to have avoided that particular addiction. It smells good when it's being prepared and I'll drink it if I have to, given a lack of choices or a social situation where it's simply called for over demurring, but it has to be all tarted up with enough sugar and cream to make it palatable to me. I'd really prefer a nice cup of tea, all in all.

I've always loved iced tea, but as I've gotten older and coffeehouse culture has exploded, I find myself meeting people more and more for "coffee" and having quality hot tea readily available. I have to admit that the tea market has also benefited from our obsession with coffeehouses because the ones worth their salt are sure to have good tea on hand, too. It's not just a Lipton world out there anymore; if that's what you think about when you think tea, you're really missing out. There's a whole slew of varieties at the ready that make those flimsy bags filled (essentially) with tea dust little more than a bad memory.

Though I find more and more people's kitchens with a whole shelf full of tea in their cupboards, it doesn't seem to have the cachet with most people that gourmet coffee has. So imagine my surprise and delight when I found a group of ladies who enjoy it as much as I do, and celebrate it on a monthly basis!

Through, I stumbled on a local group that was just getting started to meet at least once a month to get together and enjoy all sorts of tea in a social atmosphere. I attended the inaugural meetup and have been loving it ever since. It's just so fun and refreshing to have a couple hours with an ever-changing, ever-expanding group of women who have this one thing in common. We're so different in most all other ways and come from so many different backgrounds, but all of the tea meetups I've attended have just been delightful and a real balm to the soul.

Not that my life is terribly stressful these days, it's not. But it's easy to feel a little alone and out of step when you have an unconventional work schedule and typically work from home. Now there's at least one time a month I can look forward to having a break that provides such a pick-me-up with so little cost or effort. It's so outside my day-to-day and with a completely different set of people, people I've found on my own (why that's important, I don't know, it just seems to me that it is), that it has become a real bright spot for me.

Reading this over as I've gotten to this point, I don't think I'm doing a very good job of conveying what it is about it that made me want to write this in the first place. So let me take one more stab: Finding a group like this to be a part of, a group that is based on something I already love, has given me back a piece of the community I lost when I left Corporate America and the cubicle life I'd come to dislike. And that makes me happy. We all like happy, right?

Two last thoughts: 1. If you are looking for your own bright spot and need something new, I highly recommend checking out There are many, many groups with new ones forming every day all over the country. I can almost guarantee you'll find at least one that speaks to you. 2. I want to end with a picture from one of my favorite t-shirts that my brother got from Woot, even though it's slightly off-target from a gender perspective. It just makes me smile and start singing Sting's "Englishman in New York" every time I see it, so I had to share.

Picture borrowed from Woot. It belongs to them, wholly.