When I was a wee babe, I like to think I was relatively easy-going. I was the youngest of four girls and learned early on to go with the flow. I loved to meet new people and even a trip to the grocery store was an adventure. But when I was around 2 years old, my mom returned to work and I was sent to daycare.
I hated daycare.
I didn’t like the dark basement playroom. I thought the teachers were bossy. The other kids were too noisy. I was convinced that one day my mother would simply forget to retrieve me and I’d be stuck with those idiots forever (hmm. I wonder where B gets it from?). I made my disdain known and with help from my spectacular persuasion skills, my mom worked out arrangements for my grandmother to watch me.
Grandma Irene was, and is, awesome. She pushed a kitchen chair over to the sink and let me help wash the dishes although now, I realize I probably wasn’t much help at all. She always chewed half a stick of Double Mint chewing gum and when we stopped at the service station – because it was so much more than just a gas station – she would buy me my own roll of Bubble Tape. Sometimes I would spend “darks” at her and my grandfather’s old farmhouse. The best part, aside from telling tales about my imaginary friends, was having some of Grandma Irene’s tea.
I never asked to for tea – it always had to be offered. That was probably one of my own silly rules but it kept the occasion special. I don’t know what made the tea taste so magical. I’m pretty sure it was brewed using just basic Lipton black tea bags. It was never made in the microwave but always with boiling water from the tea kettle. Maybe it was something about the well water that gave it a distinct taste that I’ve never been able to duplicate.
Regardless, my lifelong love for tea was born during those early years with Grandma Irene.
I’ve been drinking lots of tea in recent years. Echinacea and herbal tea when sick, green tea for its antioxidants, red raspberry leaf tea through my pregnancies, mother’s milk tea while nursing, jasmine green tea on cold evenings and many, many more. In fact, I have an entire shelf in my kitchen to house my varieties. I have a tea to meet any mood or ailment.
Lately, my favorite is the Emperor’s Bride from The Tea Room. It’s a black tea with bits of dried orange and pineapple. It has a great fruit flavor without being overly sweet. A perfect bit of joy in a cup.
Here is a tidbit of knowledge for you: Did you know that you can decaffeinate any tea at home? Fill your mesh ball (I prefer the pincer to the chain) with loose tea and place it in your cup. Pour boiling water over the mesh ball and let steep for 30 seconds. Toss the tea water and with it goes the caffeine. Then fill your cup a second time and let steep to your preferred strength.
You can get at least two brews from a single serving of tea but the second may have to steep longer. Since I have trouble sleeping, I give him the first caffeinated cup and I enjoy the second decaffeinated one.
We’re drinking lots of tea this week and not a single brew goes by that I don’t think of Grandma Irene. Not just because of her mysteriously tasty tea but because of the incredible memories made with her.
I think one of the best parts of growing older is having the ability and perspective to remember your own childhood with fondness. Not because it was always perfect, but because it created you.