Oh, wait… That didn’t come out quite right. What I mean is that I generally have a drink within reach.
Hmmm… I seem to be digging myself in deeper, don’t I?
Okay, what this is really about is that I like to have a beverage close at hand when I work. Most often, it’s water. I drink lots of water each day to stay hydrated. I don’t drink a lot of soda. At my age, I find it too sweet to handle in more than small doses. The idea that anyone needs to drink 32 oz of cola in one sitting is beyond me.
And I have nothing against a glass of good wine—white or red, sweet or dry—nor the occasional frosty beer. And I reserve mixed drinks for vacations because I just don’t want to stock all the ingredients.
But my day always, and I do mean always, begins with a cup of coffee or tea. Lately, it’s been coffee with a dash of nutmeg and cinnamon. But for years, I drank tea (Earl Grey, hot). I love a good cappuccino or latté. I’m not a fan of flavored coffees, or any hot drinks with sugar added. And I’d rather drink my coffee black than put a powdered non-dairy creamer into it.
I didn’t always drink coffee or tea. At the meal hall in college, after lunches and dinners, my tablemates would lounge with coffees and cigarettes. I was never a smoker, and after my freshman year, I felt a little foolish trying to look fashionable with hot chocolate. But it wasn’t until my junior year, when I spent eight weeks in Oxford, England, that I learned to seriously drink tea. Hearty black teas with a smidge of milk to ward off the cool, damp winter chill. Brewing from full leaves instead of dunking tea bags. For many Brits, a “cuppa” tea will solve practically anything.
I’m not as fond of herbal teas, but I like the clean taste of mint in a tea. And I’ve tried catnip tea, which is mild and makes my cats go berserk every time I brew it. I lean toward herbal teas when I get sick or when I’m trying to cut back on the caffeine.
Then I returned home to my college theater department. As a stage manager, one of my duties was to brew a pot of coffee for the cast each night. After the first week, the director took me aside. “You’re never going to learn to make a good cup of coffee until you drink coffee,” he told me. And he was right. I spent the next four weeks developing an appreciation for a good cup of joe and learning how to get the best flavor out of Mr. Coffee.
For the record, I still drink hot chocolate on cold winter mornings (few and far between in Florida). I remember how surprised my husband was the first time I made cocoa for him because I used milk instead of a powdered mix in boiling water. Yeah, I do use milk, and I heat in on the stove, not in the microwave. And I put in a teaspoon of vanilla, 1-2 Tablespoons of cocoa, and 1 Tablespoon of sugar. Stir slowly and bring to a simmer. Pour into mugs and top with whipped cream or marshmallows. Yum.
I love the camaraderie of sitting with friends and sipping our beverages as if there’s nothing more important we need to be doing. I love the peaceful mornings where I sit with that first cup of coffee or tea and browse the Internet for headlines, my favorite blogs and check my email. Despite the caffeine, coffee and tea encourage me to take life at a slower pace and enjoy the taste, the temperature, the aroma and know that I’m part of a society that shares an appreciation for these same things. It’s amazing the enjoyment I get from a pile of beans and leaves!
What about you? What’s your favorite beverage? Are you a coffee or a tea drinker, and how did it become a part of your day?