The first day I awoke in London I was offered tea and then granted coffee – a dip into his stash of Khmer coffee carefully carried back from a recent trip to Cambodia – neither the preciousness of the coffee, nor the graciousness of the exception was lost on me.
In the coming days I did begin to like strong, dark tea and although my friend winced, I sipped it without condiments of milk or sugar. I treated tea like coffee – taking it black/neat because I enjoy the taste and feel about it as George Orwell
did about his tea, “…how can you call yourself a true tea-lover if you destroy the flavour of your tea by putting sugar in it? It would be equally reasonable to put in pepper or salt.”
I haven’t found a cup of tea (regardless of its strength) solves problems, but waiting for the kettle and then letting the tea soak – and for me letting it cool a bit so as not to end up with ‘cat-tongue’, did have a calming effect. It instills patience I suppose.
This otherworldliness tea preparation and drinking can bring about remains an enigma. I’d argue it was more the company and camaraderie I received that created zen-like moments than the tea.