When I first began writing about various kinds of teas, I mentioned my roots as a coffee drinker and wondered about their compatibility on the palate. I must admit, when my stomach allows it, I love early morning coffee’s depth and tip to the day. Some days, the prospect of its taste – its waking scent – is the sole factor that pulls me from bed.
Recently, I had the privilege of attending a live broadcast of Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion from the Fitzgerald in St. Paul. One of the skits involved Jearlyn Steele playing a Baptist (and, incidentally, also a veterinary aromatherapist) who walks into a camp of cowboys dealing with a sick cow. She offers them “Comfrey tea” for their cow – an organic infusion with a shot of wheatgrass. A hilarious and telling conversation ensues, coupling the faith / hope of Baptists with organic fennel tea and the rugged edgy down-to-earth realism of cowboys with coffee. (They did join together for a rather heart-melting tune before parting ways.)
And so I am slow to admit that this past month I’ve been drinking coffee over tea. Perhaps in the dead of winter, I’m less willing to explore lighter subtleties and prefer the depth of a rich espresso. I still wonder if coffee ruins one’s ability to discern the tastes of teas. I wonder if anyone out there has found a harmonious way to split time between coffee and tea while being present to both of their depths. Most of the people I know prefer one over the other (in particular, most people I know who seriously drink tea do not drink coffee). Is this relationship curious to anyone else? Do you ever have difficulty choosing between tea and coffee? What elements influence your decision? If coffee and tea (particularly organic herbal teas) were personified, would they look like cowboys and Baptist evangelists? (I pose that last question jokingly.)