All the blog posts in this series are based on Czeslaw Milosz’s book Milosz’s ABC’s. There, in the form of a brief and alphabetically-ordered personal encyclopedia, was the story of the life of a Nobel Prize winning poet, of the people, places, and things that meant the most to him.
My own ABCs consist of places I have loved (Iceland, Patagonia, Quebec, Scotland), things I feared (Earthquakes), writers I have admired (Chesterton, Balzac, Proust, and Borges); locales associated with my past life (Cleveland and Dartmouth College), people who have influenced me (John F. Kennedy), foods I love (Olives), and things I love to do (Automobiles and Books). This blog entry is my own humble attempt to imitate a writer whom I have read on and off for thirty years without having sated my curiosity. Consequently, over the weeks to come, you will see a number of postings under the heading “Tarnmoor’s ABCs” that will attempt to do for my life what Milosz accomplished for his. To see my other entries under this category, hit the tag below marked “ABCs”. I don’t guarantee that I will use up all 26 letters of the alphabet, but I’ll do my best. Today the letter is “T” for Tea.
Ever since I was a small child, I have preferred tea to coffee. I don’t even like the smell or even the look of coffee, let alone its taste. You won’t find me asking for a Venti anything at Starbuck’s. Barristas would have a difficult time making a living if they had to depend on people like me. What they do at their place of work, I could do more satisfactorily in my kitchen. And then, as my pot of tea cools, I have several additional glasses of iced tea.
While my favorite variety is Darjeeling, I will occasionally switch to Ceylon or Assam for variety. I also love green tea and several non Camellia sinensis local varieties, such as Té Manzanilla (chamomile) in Mexico or Yerba Mate in Argentina. People talk about herb teas as if tea is not an herb, but it is. I generally avoid more flowery teas, though a good Chinese jasmine is not bad on occasion.
While others spend many hundreds of dollars a year on coffee, my total expenditure on tea is considerably less than fifty dollars for far more tea than I can drink. A pound of loose tea leaves makes 240 cups of tea. By contrast, how many cups of coffee does a pound of beans make? Nowhere near, I’d wager.
Tonight, as I finish reading a book of Croatian writer Slavenka Drakulić ’s essays, I will have a tall glass of unsweetened iced tea made of Ahmad of London’s loose Ceylon blend.