It’s the end of May. It’s cold. It’s wet. It’s definitely not summer yet and I’m tired of waiting around for the sun to make an appearance. My mood is as grey as the sky outside and I’m fed up with it all. The weather isn’t just pulling at my mood. It’s making me miss all sorts of things. I miss my friends. I miss my family. I miss feeling the sun on my face – my freckles have taken on a pathetic, anemic colour. And I miss food. Eating during times like these can get a bit tedious. There’s only so much soup a person can take. The lack of colour and light of this very disappointing “spring” has also meant that my inspiration in the kitchen has reached an all time low. And my decisions on what to eat have become as bland as the weather. So I’m surviving on tea. Not in terms of nutrition since I cannot live on tea alone. But it is one of the few things keeping me from going mad. I’m in no way an expert on tea. But tea isn’t just tea.
A cup of tea helps me remember. It’s full of memories and packed with warmth. Different teas, different memories, different friends, and different stories. Tea is not just warmth and strength. It’s a time out. It’s spending time with people you don’t mind sitting in silence with. It’s cosying up on the couch when it’s cold and rainy outside. It’s taking a break and breathing deep. It’s not without reason that tea has such an incredible history. But it’s how tea reminds me of different people and places that I love best.
My strongest memory is spending late nights with the most fabulous friend a girl can have, the lovely R, chatting and giggling, smoking cigarettes and drinking Anikpe tea into the wee hours of the morning. Strong, hot tea sweetened with condensed milk and half a teaspoon of sugar. I don’t get to drink Anikpe tea nearly often enough. I miss R. And I miss her tea.
Earl Grey tea entered my life when I first started waitressing in London. I would drink it by the litre, out of a pint glass, unsweetened and a splash of milk. Fruit tea is not something I drink often, but when I do I can’t help but think of a boy I once kissed. Jasmine tea is reserved for Chinese dinners with my mother. And good old English Breakfast got me through university. It’s what I was drinking when I realised I would have to say goodbye to Saffi and I had no idea how.
So I drink tea when it’s rubbish outside. And who and what I miss and how I’m feeling at the moment influences what I drink. It’s still raining outside. My fingers are freezing. But I have a cup of tea. And suddenly, it’s doesn’t feel so bad.