Originally this was going to be an article vilifying the many faults of coffee lovers. The snobbery and one-upmanship that is all too common. But then, as I sipped my mug of hot tea, I began to realize I was not so very different from these people.
I wondered if it is not so much coffee that the world is obsessed with but hot beverages in general.
Few people dislike a hot beverage. Maybe those with extremely sensitive teeth but then those people also don’t enjoy cold beverages. They exist in a no-man’s land of room temperature water and lukewarm orange juice with the specific pH of 7.45.
As a child, I rarely consumed hot beverages. I was a cold milo kind of kid, my parents funnelling as much dairy as they could into me thinking they could defy my ethnic destiny of being below-average height. It was when I hit the late age of 24 that my hot beverage consumption really took off.
At first, I was peer-pressured into drinking coffee with my team at work. I hadn’t been a coffee drinker for the first 24 years of my life but now it was being insisted on me. Literally, I felt guilty if I didn’t get amongst the mid-morning coffee round. So began my general decline in decaffeination.
I started my first round of proper night shifts that rotation. I would start my shift with a coffee. By midnight, it only felt appropriate to consume a second coffee to fuel my ongoing jobs. After a third cup around 2am, I began to question my cardiac wellbeing and moved onto tea.
I was alarmed to recently learn that black tea contains about half the amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee. Up until then, I’d been drinking up to five cups of tea a day, thinking I was being especially scrupulous with my caffeine consumption.
I was instantly alarmed and my strange, undiagnosable palpitations went wild.
I tried to cut down my general hot beverage consumption. For a day. Then I realized it wasn’t worth it. When one gets so much pleasure from such a simple thing as a hot beverage experience, is it worth it to cut down? I’m not yet suffering the supposed consequences of excess caffeine consumption. So, for the time being I continue my three coffees, three teas a day habit.
I have also been carefully observing the milk in tea habits of those around me. I had been misled to believe that most people only like the most conservative of splashes in their black tea. In this line of thought, if I ever ordered tea from a café I would ask for a “splash” of milk only to be disappointed with the murky beverage placed in front of me.
I wanted a creamy, luscious, nearly viscous tea. I wanted a milky tea.
Recently, I was at a friend’s house when she served me tea.
“Say when,” I said as I poured milk into her cup. I stopped before she said “when,” thinking I’d met the population average by that stage.
“I really like a milky tea,” she said. “Keep going.”
So, I kept going. Even more that I could have ever imagined. By the end of my generous pour, the tea was nearly white.
I was amazed. My preconceptions had been blown apart. I looked down at my friend’s cup of tea.
“I like a milky cup of tea too,” I said. In that moment, I felt our friendship had become perceptibly more ferocious in its bond.
I arguably have pretty unrefined tastes when it comes to hot beverages. Any instant coffee or Lipton tea bag will do. But like most people, I’ve fallen completely for its charms. Its many assets are hard to find in just one substance. It can wake you up. Aid a stubborn bowel motion. Warm you from hypothermia. Bond two individuals across a workplace kettle.
I love a hot beverage. And only if I suffer from a caffeine-induced cardiac arrest will I choose to stop.