Written by Arielle F.
I don’t come from a family of tea drinkers. My dad drank Folger’s instant coffee for the longest time, moved up to Keurig Donut Shop nowadays. My mom drank Caffeine-Free Diet Coke, graduating to a drink regimen consisting of a specific type of hot chocolate and Diet Coke from Sonic because they have the good ice.
I grew up in a small city in Central Texas. Here in the South, you get your tea iced and one of two ways, sweet or unsweet. Ask for hot tea in a restaurant and you get lukewarm water and a tea bag to dip in it. I didn’t get much exposure to good tea in my early days.
Raised on a steady diet of Kool-Aid and sodas, I shunned iced tea because my mom told me it would make me pee too much. I just think she had a grudge against tea because she didn’t like it. During my all-night World of Warcraft raids in college, I consumed enough Mountain Dew Game Fuel to make my roommate want to strangle me. Other times, I visited the campus Starbucks, but coffee has always had a tendency to give me stomach issues. Once, I tried a Monster and thought I was going to have a heart attack. I had to go for a jog around the library to get rid of the jitters.
My tea obsession didn’t really begin until I moved to Houston. Participating in National Novel Writing Month, many of our writing meet ups, called write-ins,were at local tea and coffee houses. This was my first experience with loose tea. I’d never brewed it, and never tried it until I visited Té House of Tea. I needed something to brew loose tea in, so I bought a nice little plastic contraption I’d seen at a friend’s house, bought some loose tea at Té House and began to enjoy loose tea more often. Delicious, of course, but I wasn’t obsessed yet.
Along came the fandom blends. At an anime convention in Dallas, a friend and avid tea drinker found a booth selling teas themed after the show, Firefly. They were cool, but I was skeptical, and they were high priced. (My thought at the time: six dollars for an ounce?!) He bought a few and raved about them so much that I bought a blend the following year.
At six dollars for an ounce, I wanted to save it for a special occasion. The tea I bought had a strange smell, and still skeptical about the whole thing, I shoved it in my cabinet for a few months and sorta forgot about it.
Along came Nancy. Her excitement about tea caused my tea drinking to rise and I bought a teapot in the color approved by my orange- obsessed husband. Nancy bought me a wonderful set of fruit teas from Teavana and started my dangerous rock sugar addiction. Her hunger for the Sherlock fandom landed her on the website for Adagio Teas and she purchased several blends. Not to be left out of the fun, I went to the site and talked my husband into allowing me to purchase several as well. I’d never heard of this site, or ever really thought about ordering tea online, but it was addicting.
Funny thing was, the little plastic tea brewing contraption I’d bought years before and the blend I’d bought at the anime convention were both from Adagio and I never even noticed.
I love the ritual of brewing loose tea and the science of tea. As a scientist myself, it fascinates me how humans have been able to take leaves from a plant and turn it into something so delicious.
I look forward to exploring the rich history of tea and how science and experimentation has (and hasn’t) shaped the teas we drink today. While I love tea, I still consider myself a tea n00b. I have a lot to learn and discover.
And I finally tried that tea from the convention. Nancy and I drank it on the final night of National Novel Writing Month 2012. I finished at 100,000 words for the month and we both crossed the finish line together. As for the tea, it was…interesting.
Until next time! /wave