“Do we have any more tea?”  My husband held aloft a Tealet tin in which we store each week’s leaf.  

“Look in the cabinet,” I took a deep gulp of Goomtee Muscatel, “I’m sure there’s another packet of Doke.”

“Nope.  Unless you have a hidden stash someplace, this is it.”  I looked more closely: about a teaspoon of leaf remained.  Not enough for another morning of leisurely tea drinking and solving the world’s problems in six steeps. There wasn’t even enough to take on just Oregon’s foibles in one steep.  I searched high and low, finding three dusty tea bags, a small packet of matcha and two ancient flowering tea balls.

This has never happened.  Hoarder by nature and teacher by trade, between well-meaning gifts of exotic word stew blends (cinnamon pumpkin black hibiscus spice comes to mind), it had been ten years since we had been “out” of tea.

We. are. out. of. tea. 

This will never do.  Immediately I got online and put in an order to my favorite tea company and ordered a kilo of black teas, including Giddapahar, Jungpana, Harmutty, Goomtee muscatel, and our go-to Doke Black Fusion.  “That’s all well and good,” Rafe crossed his arms in a most presidential way, “what are we going to drink in the meantime? DO NOT suggest those bloomin’ balls!”

“That’s flowering tea; it’s beautiful.”  Why I argue in these situations is beyond me.  Is there some auto-pilot that clicks on when you’ve been married for thirty-plus years that you argue even when you’re way out on a limb?  

“Why would anybody choose their tea because it flowers in the water but tastes like bilge water?”  To my credit, I did not ask how he knew what bilge water tasted like.

“Lemme run to the store and get some.  I saw bulk tea at Huckleberry’s. I will pick up a hundred grams of Assam.  That should last us until we can resupply.” I grabbed my keys.

“Take the Toyota, will you, and fill it up with gas?” Much as I hate getting gas, I was at fault for failing my tea inventory duty so I agreed, grabbed his keys, and was out the door.  The Toyota is an SUV about four times the size of my Jetta, but I am comfortable driving it.

To say that I found the tea choices daunting would be an understatement.  It’s been at least ten years since I shopped retail for tea. The choices have exploded!

There are HUNDREDS of choices of tea bags in no fewer than three places in the store.  Whole leaf can be found in three places as well.

Finally, just as I was about to experience sensory overload, I found the bulk whole leaf organic Assam and scooped out a few ounces.

The carry-out lad was interested and we talked tea as he bundled my purchases into the bag.  Into the parking lot I went and I did not see my Jetta. I walked up and down the rows of cars, clicking the automatic lock, knowing it would trigger a flash of parking lights. Nothing. Then, I walked up to every charcoal grey Jetta in the lot, coming to two conclusions: first, there are a lot of 2009 Jettas out there; and second, my car had been stolen as I blithely shopped for tea.  Rats.

If it weren’t for bad luck; I’d have no luck at all.  I run out of tea and my car gets stolen and my husband is going to poop a peach pit.  Near tears, I convinced the carry out lad to help me. No luck. Finally, I decided to face the music and call my husband, “Someone stole my car,” I sobbed into the phone when he picked up.

“Your car is in the driveway,” he sighed, “you drove the Highlander.”  

Eureka.  The moral of this story is: don’t run out of tea.