It is hard being a tea-drinker in a coffee-centric world.
When I ask for tea in hotels and restaurants, I am usually presented with a basket of tea bags, most of them not tea at all, but tisanes - herbs or mixtures of herbs. While my friends get refills on their coffees, I am offered some more hot water for my soggy teabag. At conferences, I dig through that basket of teabags set aside for non-coffee drinkers, desperately searching for the few caffeinated tea bags that remain, and fill my cup with tepid water that tastes faintly of stale coffee. Yuck.
When I mentioned to one of my friends once that I was a tea drinker, he asked me if I own a tea service. Oddly enough, for a tea fanatic, I don't. I have the basics - a tea kettle for boiling the water, a teapot for steeping the leaves, a strainer, and, of course, zillions of mugs and teacups. But I don't own a tea service per se. I realized when he asked that that people seem to associate tea drinking with rosy-cheeked, white-haired old ladies, sipping tea from dainty china cups, nibbling on crustless sandwiches and scones, pinky fingers outstretched. Either that, or, from my experiences at restaurants, hotels, and conferences, it seems that tea drinkers are somehow opposed to caffeine. On the contrary.
I do like a formal afternoon tea on occasion, but my everyday tea experience involves only the accoutrements I listed above: kettle, teapot, strainer, mug. And I need my morning caffeine boost just as much as the next girl. What I like about tea is that I can drink cup after cup without getting the caffeine high that coffee gives you, and I can keep drinking it throughout the day.
What I aim to do with this blog is to explain what tea is and what an amazing beverage it is in its own right - not as second string to coffee.