“I want the English teacher who does the tea thing.” The speaker looked like a parrot-breeding project gone tragically awry – rainbow hair glued into a peak known as a fauxhawk, multi-colored layers of gauzy fabric held together with safety pins and duct tape, and a pair of egg-yolk yellow high-topped canvas sneakers. Both of my colleagues pointed to me with obvious relief.
“Yeah, like I want to be in your class,” the young man went on, “I heard that you, like, drink tea in class?” At this point, I am mesmerized by the multiple piercings in his lips, eyebrows, nose, and tongue. The stud in his tongue clicks on his teeth each time he utters a “t,” giving it a sibilant shhhh. I stepped back a pace or two in anticipation of a “p.”
“Let’s see your schedule,” I reached for the rumpled piece of paper he pulled from impossibly tight cobalt blue trousers riding well below his hips, revealing six inches of boxer shorts in a tartan plaid. “You’re registered for Honors Sophomore English with Mr. Solomon, who is a very good teacher.” I passed the baton, as it were, to Mr. Solomon.
“Yeah, I know, but, like, does he drink tea?”
Long story short: it is the first time I’ve had a student request my class because of the Tea Tuesday ritual. Most students are bitterly disappointed that they are enrolled in my class, instead of getting the young, sporty Mr. Solomon. Did I mention good-looking and easily half my age? Remember, dear readers, when you were in high school? You wanted the young, the cool, and the attractive teachers. You avoided the frumpy, overweight, and gray bag ladies like myself.
Parrot boy changed his entire schedule so he could, like, drink tea on Tuesdays. His parents came to Open House. They did not ask about the course syllabus, the curriculum, the grading policy, or the homework expectations. They asked about tea.
This is the fourth year of Tea Tuesdays in my classroom. Thanks to a generous donation of a Zojirushi water heater via Rotary International, and several kilos of tea over the years from T Ching, the ritual survives. Students love jasmine, matcha genmaicha, te kwan yin, golden lion’s paw, and sparrow’s tongue. Almost every student in every class participates, which adds up to 75–80 cups of tea on a given Tuesday. I find myself washing cups through lunch and my preparation period. The Zojirushi is filled three times on these Tuesdays – five liters of water each fill-up.
The only glitch? Water. For three years, the tap water tasted fine. This year, it does not. The taste alternates between metallic or as if it’s been used to rinse a birdcage. Dreadful. Because I don’t have a tap in my classroom, a typical filter system is out of the question. Buying bottled water is simply not in my budget, not to mention the possible BPA contamination of plastic water jugs from Wal*Mart.
Therefore, Tea Tuesdays are on hold. Parrot Boy has had just one cup of tea in my classroom (but he does love Homer!). I’d like ideas from you, dear readers . . . what to, like, do about the water? Any and all suggestions will be considered and appreciated.