America is very much a coffee country, and the teas Americans drink tend to be green teas or flavored teas or fancy fruit teas. You can get a decaf coffee anywhere in the states, but getting a decaf black tea isa lot harder. One barista even told me "I don't think that exists" when I asked if his cafe carried decaf black tea. And then a month or so ago, Gloria started writing stories about her favorite teas (a woman after my own heart) which reminded me of Eleanor's love of coffee. So reader, coffee or tea?
Tea and Thoughts
I am an early riser. I am up at 5:00 am every morning. Go down to the kitchen and put on a small saucepan of water for my morning tea. I drink all kinds of tea, but my favorites are green tea and red bush tea. Red bush tea comes originally from South Africa and has a mild, slightly woodsy taste. I drink my tea hot with no sugar or cream. My tea mug holds two and a half cups. I drink all of that while watching the morning news programs.
My husband wakes and comes down around 10:00 am. We each make our own breakfast. I usually have a sandwich while he has the traditional eggs, bacon, sausage and whatever else he can find. Since it’s just us, meals are not formal. There is plenty in the house since I buy too much when I shop but I no longer enjoy cooking.
Since the COVID shutdown we spend lots of time together, but meals are not at all formal. We eat while reading or talking or watching television. At least three times a day I have a mug of tea. I usually finish with a mug of green tea in the evening. While I love my teas my husband drinks sodas, mostly Cokes. We each have our own tastes and that works just fine for us after 57 years of marriage.
My Morning Tea
When I was a little girl, I remember the smell of coffee brewing in the morning. The smell went through the whole house. There probably was no such thing as instant coffee then. This was the 1940’s so I doubt there was instant anything. I never drank coffee even in my teens. Many of my classmates at Bennet College did drink coffee though.
I discovered coffee when I began working as a Clinic Aid at Einstein Southern Division. This was a small hospital at 5th and Reed streets in South Philadelphia. I was on the morning shift and worked from 7:00AM to 3:30PM. That meant I had to leave the house by 6:30 AM to catch the bus that got me to work by 6:50. I lived only 12 blocks from the hospital. Morning coffee became necessary to wake me up.
Over the years I tried many coffees mostly instant. Brewing took too much time. Tea was a rarity if it wasn’t iced. Then about 20 years again I discovered the world of what I call exotic teas. I found a red bush tea at Trader Joe’s, and I fell in love with it. When Trader Joe’s discontinued it, I began ordering it from Amazon. Everything can be bought on Amazon.
I also tried many exotic teas and now have at least a dozen kinds in my kitchen. But red bush has become my favorite. I ran out last week and with the help of another tea loving shopper, found that Acme supermarket carries a Rooibos tea native to South Africa.
That will hold me until my order of Rooibos tea comes via Amazon. By the way Rooibos means Red Bush in Afrikaans.
A Lifelong Love Affair With Coffee
I think I first drank coffee when I was 17. It was instant coffee. When I was a child, the only time that my parents made coffee was when they had company. The pot percolated joyfully on the stove, awaiting their arrival. I seem to remember drinking instant coffee with my boyfriend when I was 17, with milk and a teaspoon of sugar.
When I was 19, my friend Kathy and I went to Europe and discovered coffee- real coffee. Actually, it was only me. Kathy already drank espresso with milk every morning. It was part of her Hungarian heritage. France, Spain, Austria, Italy- we felt very sophisticated drinking our café au lait. In France, from a bowl sometimes brought to our room on the fifth floor by the hotelier, big steaming bowls of coffee to wake us from our reverie of yesterday’s adventures.
When we got back to Toronto, Kathy and I continued to drink coffee on special days together at the coffee mill. I always ordered a cappuccino, savoring the moment the bitter liquid surfaced from the deliciousness of frothy milk, a moment of sensory awakening. Still, I never made coffee. Then, when I was 21, I met the love of my life. He lived in a room on a small street in Toronto and had very few possessions except a mattress, boxes of LP records- that’s very old-fashioned now- and a Melitta coffee maker. I soon learned the joys of grinding your own coffee, smelling the pungent aroma, and watching the hot liquid drip slowly into the pot.
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And don't forget to maintain contact with the older buds in your life. If you can't be there in person, please call them, email them, or message them on social media. And if they're using teleconferencing or remote events for the first time, give them a call and help them set things up. Check in on them to see how well they're getting used to these programs. Buy them a computer or an internet package if they don't have one of their own. It's a human right, after all.
Curated by Caitlin Cieri