A couple of weeks ago, I got one of those calls that no one wants to get – my mother had fallen and broken her hip.  Thanks to an understanding boss and a nice airline, I was able to get from Texas to New Jersey the next day to be with her.  She was glad to see me, and although she looked pretty frail, she didn’t need surgery and could start physical therapy right away.

As I spent the next few days with her in the hospital and then the rehab center, I often found myself craving the comfort of a cup of tea.  Unfortunately, in my rush to get going, I hadn’t had the time or the foresight to pack any loose-leaf tea or brewing vessels, so I was just drinking tea from tea bags plunked into Styrofoam cups.  Even when I went home to my mom’s house at night, the only tea available was in tea bags left over from my last trip six months before.

But what I found was that the quality of the tea really didn’t matter – just holding the warm cup in my hands and sipping the tea was incredibly comforting.  Whether I was sitting in the hospital room with my mom, listening to the doctors talk to her about what she would be doing over the next weeks and months, or sitting on the couch at home after a long, tiring day, just the warmth and the scent of the tea was enough to make me feel a little better.

The strangest thing was that it took me three or four days to realize that somehow the tea I was drinking didn’t have that much flavor – up until then I had just been drinking it automatically, without any thought of making a good cup of tea.  I just needed to have that familiar feeling of holding the cup and drinking something warm to help me get through the worst of the crisis.

I came back to Texas after almost a week, since my mom was comfortable in the rehab center and my sister was on her way down.  I made my first pot of tea the day after I got home – Natela’s Gold black tea from Georgia – and as I breathed in the delicate aroma, I felt like I was sitting down with an old friend.  But even when I was drinking tea made from a basic tea bag in a paper cup, I felt much better while I was drinking it.  It gave me a moment to take a breath and be comforted, and let me gear up for the next challenge.