Monday, April 27, 2015

#MicroblogMondays: Good to the last drop :)

I'm not exactly sure how or when I became a tea drinker, vs a coffee drinker. Perhaps it was the influence of my mom.  Although she came from a long line of Scandinavian coffee aficionados in one of the most Scandinavian communities in Minnesota (there was always, always a pot of Folgers percolating on the stove in my grandmother's kitchen -- I actually like the smell of coffee brewing, because it takes me right back there), she preferred tea (perhaps her Irish/Scottish genes?), and still does. She claims she lost her taste for coffee after her second pregnancy with my sister. (Back then, of course, caffeine was not verboten for pregnant women, along with cigarettes, wine...!)  She would sometimes make me weak tea when I was a kid and feeling sick.

I can remember going out for "coffee" with some of my friends in high school, but it wasn't like it is today, with a Starbucks or Tim Horton's on every street corner. We'd drive to the restaurant adjoining the local Co-op store or the gas station out on the highway, but we'd be just as likely to order a Coke as a cup of joe. 

Perhaps it was the influence of my first year university roommate. who would brew different flavours of loose-leaf tea for us in a teapot. For years and years, we gave each other tea-related gifts for birthdays and Christmas -- teapots, teacups, trivets, Christmas tree ornaments, books, boxes of tea... 

When I first met dh's Italian family and had dinner with them, I was offered a tiny cup of espresso coffee along with my dessert -- something totally foreign to this Irish-Swedish-American/Ukrainian-Canadian girl from the Prairies. I accepted to be polite, took a sip -- and then almost choked -- it was so strong.  Most of his relatives didn't even have tea in the house;  if they did, it was often chamomile, used only in the event of a stomach ache. Some of them started buying a small box of teabags, specifically for when I visited. :) 

Eventually, a few cousins on his dad's side married "English" (i.e., non-Italian) girls who also preferred tea. We'd sit together at wedding & baby showers and have fun watching the waiters' reactions when we asked for tea instead of coffee, then took bets on how it would be served and whether the water would be hot. (I give points to any restaurant that serves tea in china pots versus those awful metal things that inevitably leak all over the place as you're trying to pour.)

(I finally tried a latte at a coffee house in Seattle that my cousin took us to when we visited there in 1993 -- appropriately -- when in Rome, etc. etc. -- and that was more to my taste.  I will have one of those now & then at Starbucks.)

(I find that I have to remember to specify "hot tea" when I'm in the States;  otherwise, I'm liable to be handed a glass of iced tea, and it will be anyone's guess as to whether it will be sweetened...)

When I started working as a small-town newspaper reporter, I found a kindred spirit in a fellow reporter at the local radio station who also preferred tea. Invariably, most of the town council and school board meetings and other events we covered only offered coffee as refreshment -- with Coffeemate instead of milk or cream on the side. Yuck. I'd sometimes drink it if I was desperate (or trying to stay awake, lol), but I disliked the lingering taste.  We joked about starting a "Tea drinkers have rights too" movement.

When I started working in downtown Toronto, I got into the habit of stopping to buy a tea as I headed into the office (usually at the Second Cup) -- and then heading down to the food court in the concourse on my breaks to refuel.  Some days I felt like I was living from one coffee break to the next (I had two 15-minute breaks per day, morning and afternoon, as well as a lunch hour). Yes, I could have made my own tea in the office kitchenette for much less money, but getting away from the office, if only briefly, was probably as important as the tea itself, if not more so. 

My coworker/office best friend & I would usually take our breaks together, especially in the morning. It got so that I would turn up at her cubicle, wallet in hand, just as she was reaching into her drawer for hers (or vice-versa). "Cuppa?" I remember asking her once. "Yuppa!" she responded, and both had a good laugh. We always talked about skipping out of work early someday and going to the nearby King Edward or Royal York hotels for their formal afternoon tea (with scones, little sandwiches and other goodies), but of course, time flew by and we never did... until the week before she retired. As my retirement present to her, I got permission from our boss for both of us to leave work early, and we headed over to the Royal York for the royal treatment, which we both enjoyed thoroughly. :)  (I've also enjoyed afternoon tea in some other lovely settings -- including the Chateau Lake Louise in Alberta with dh on our honeymoon, the Empress in Victoria, B.C., with a high school girlfriend, and the King Edward in Toronto with my mother. Pricey, but a wonderful occasional treat.) 

Now that I'm retired/unemployed, I enjoy starting my day with a leisurely cuppa after breakfast, as I peruse the morning paper and e-mails. I'll usually have another cup mid-afternoon. Sometimes dh & I will head to the local Tim Hortons just to get out of the house, and no visit to our local mega-bookstore would be complete with a stop at the adjacent Starbucks first (where my standard order is a tall non-fat English breakfast tea latte).  When I was younger, I enjoyed trying different flavours of tea;  these days, I prefer to stick to plain old black tea -- orange pekoe, English breakfast or perhaps Darjeeling. Served with sugar and lots of milk, please and thank you.

Are you a tea or coffee person? What's your usual order?

(I guess this wasn't quite a "micro" post -- but at least it's a post...!)

You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here       


  1. I lived in England on a student exchange. To my British family, tea was a drink with snacks in the middle of the day. The rule was whoever was home first made the tea.

  2. I am a coffee-in-the-morning, tea-in-the-evening kind of gal. Need that jolt (and I've been probably overdosing since stopping treatments, just because I CAN...) to get me going in the morning, but in the evening I love a cup of herbal tea. Lemon ginger, blueberry acai, wild sweet orange, apparently I love fruit teas. I also love a good Double Bergamot Earl Grey from Stash with milk and sugar. Sometimes I do that in the morning if my stomach is upset. So love the history of your switch from coffee to tea and the difficulty of getting a good cup out and about! Cremora in tea, EW.

  3. I'm new to tea, so I enjoyed this slightly more than "micro" post.

    I've learned I like coffee, but not the taste. I have to mask it with hot chocolate. I just use powered hot cocoa mix when I make my own. But when I order, its always hard to get the waitress to understand I really do want it half/hot cocoa half/coffee. They never do enough hot cocoa.

    Since going back to school, I now live on caffeine. I have my coffee in the morning, and then usually a soda pop in the afternoon. But most days, the soda hurts my stomach. So just a few weeks ago, I decided to try tea.

    Again, I seem to like it, but I don't want to taste it. I haven't tried many teas yet, but so far I have liked a chia spice I found. I still have to add honey to sweeten, but its pretty good. I want to try others, but my small town grocery store doesn't carry many options. I just need to look online and choose a few to try.

  4. No coffee for me. Love how it smells as it is brewing, but the taste just does not appeal to me. I do enjoy tea. I just got my first loose leaf strainer. :) Can't wait to try it out!

  5. Well, being a New Zealander I loved this. We were a nation of tea drinkers. I grew up drinking milky tea, even as a child. We'd have about six cups a day - my mother and my sisters still do, I think. I never really had coffee till I was well into my teens, and at university.

    Now though, we drink a lot of coffee, but very much in the European/Italian style, espressos in small cafes, rather than the huge buckets/Starbucks style. Starbucks has made it to NZ, but I detest it - and led a one-woman boycott of it! I love coffee, but only GOOD espresso based coffee. I don't make coffee at home - my husband hates the smell - and I've never really learned to make coffee (not coffee that I particularly enjoy), so I only drink it when I'm out. I'm very fussy! Fortunately, Wellington has the best coffee in the country, and I discover how pampered we are when we go overseas and try to find a good coffee. Even Australia was a bit of a struggle on a recent visit, and I had to ask for a double shot of espresso every time I ordered a flat white. In Italy though, I generally found good coffee - except the one time we had a cafe just across the road from where we were staying for two weeks. It was disgusting!

    I still drink tea though - my husband brings me a cup in bed on Saturday and Sunday monings - and I often drink green tea at lunch, and chamomile (though I also like lemon and other herbal teas) after dinner. I met an online friend in London (the first time I'd met her) and we went to afternoon at Claridges. I could say much more - I might just have to go write a post about tea, and afternoon teas.

    1. @Mali: You reminded me, my retired teatime companion coworker is also from NZ originally. :)

  6. Coffee. The biggest cup they have. Strongest brew. Black.

    My coffee drinking habit actually endeared me to my Italian-American's husband's family when I graciously accepted and drank the after dinner espresso without batting an eye. SIL jokes that she had to give birth to two kids before the famiglia fully accepted her and that all I had to do was drink some coffee and a glass of the family recipe wine. Though eight years later I can honestly say that it's good that found a way in without having a kid or four. :)

    Tea in the US is almost always iced unless you specify hot. In my experience when you're in the south it is always sweet (and they look at you like you have three heads if you order unsweetened) but everywhere else it's a crapshoot.

  7. Husband and I start most days (definitely weekends) with a pot of french press coffee. It's an offering of love for one of us to make it for the both of us.

    I enjoyed walking through your life with tea as the centerpiece :-)

  8. Love it! I start with espresso, but as the day wanes, I more often drink tea. When I want comfort, I go to tea. (Though this is quite the coffee-drinking town ... many people do business over coffee. NOT tea.)

  9. I can't stomach coffee at all. It makes me jittery, and gives me heartburn. So I am also a tea drinker. No black tea for me- I drink green tea, rooibos tea or white tea. Bulk Barn has a really nice selection of loose-leaf teas- my favourites are Moroccan mint green tea, and vanilla rooibos tea. Right now, I am sipping a nice cup of peach white tea. :)

  10. I'm like Justine. Coffee in the morning, but as the day goes on.

    It's interesting to look back on history and see why the US has a preference for coffee over tea. There's a big push in my area for pour-overs and perfecting that morning cup of coffee. It's rare to have someone spend as much time with tea, which is a shame as there's a lot to learn with it too.