Tea is a yummy beverage with a rich history and cool customs.
“I like tea. Tea doesn’t make me sad.” – Circus in a Shot Glass (Clean Reads 2018)
Everyone has a preferred beverage or two. My brother’s is diet Mountain Dew. My niece’s is chocolate milk (or Olive Garden’s berry smoothie, depending on what day you catch her on.) My sister’s is very, very sweet hot tea. Seeing as she’s my twin, I have to second her preference…just maybe not quite as sweet.
Also, it’s fitting: Writers often sing the praises of caffeine.
And oftentimes, that caffeinated beverage of choice narrows down to either tea or coffee.
Tea has been around for centuries. It mainly comes from the East, from countries such as China, Taiwan, India, and Japan, but some black teas come from African country Tanzania. The leaves are plucked from tea bushes, overseen by a tea master, then fired and rolled and shaped and eventually, they wind up on store shelves.
Here are some cool things I’ve learned about tea from The Tea Enthusiast’s Handbook by Mary Lou Heiss:
- In Russia, people often sweeten their tea with fruit jam. It’s usually a thin, seedless jam, and the most commonly used flavor is cherry. (I might have to try this some time, just to see what it’s like.)
- Using water boiled more than once for tea is a no-no. It affects the flavor profile of the liquor (liquid tea) in a negative way.
- Different teas require different water temperatures and steeping times, and some can take milk or lemon and/or sweetener. Others are best if you drink them “black.”
- There are five “classes” of tea: Black, white, yellow, green, and oolong.
- Tea was first introduced to the West in the 1600s. Tea leaves were given to the Russian czar as a gift, which he initially refused and had to be persuaded to try. Since then, it’s gone on to be the country’s #1 (non-alcoholic) beverage.
- If your green tea is bitter, the water you steeped it in was most likely too hot.
There’s a scene in my novel Circus in a Shot Glass where two of the main characters go to a tea shop in some obscure New York (State) town. Scotch (female protagonist) drinks a cup of berry-flavored tea with sugar, milk, and lemon. Ardal (male protagonist) drinks a mint infusion (not really a tea, since tea comes from two—or is it three?—varieties of the same plant, none of which are mint 😉 )
In the scene, the scent of the tea brings back a strong memory for Scotch, an alcoholic amnesiac, and—well, I don’t want to spoil anything!
I don’t want to even think of how many cups of the hot beverage I drank while writing the novel over the span of four years. Or while I was doing edits. *shudders* Or querying. *double shudder*
Writer or not, what’s YOUR beverage of choice? Tea? Coffee? Pop? The blood of your enemies?
Keep your nose in a book,