“I am not,” Dad declared as he pulled his mug from under the Keurig spout, “a tea connoisseur. I drink iced tea in the summer.”  Soon we’re  sitting in his living room, looking out over the Klickitat River. A bald eagle wings its way upstream.

“Have you ever had real whole leaf, Pop?”

“You know I do not agree with legalizing wacky tabacky!  I lived 90 years without —“

“WHOLE LEAF TEA, Dad. Not cannabis.  Have you ever tried whole leaf TEA?”

He jumps up from his Lazy Boy recliner surprisingly fast for a man who spent 70 years at hard manual labor. After a few minutes rooting through a cabinet, he returns with a handful of tea bags so ancient they lack a UPC.  “You mean this stuff?”  He thrusts a dozen bags of every brand of  bulk bagged tea, from Bigelow to Twinings, in my direction. “I drink this stuff when I am desperate or backpacking. Neither of which has occurred since the last millennium.”

“That explains the antique bags,” I whispered below the range of his hearing aids. “I want you to try whole leaf tea, Pop.  It is so much better than that prehistoric bagged stuff,” I am using my projecting voice, “Just one cup, Dad.”  He threw his hands up in one of those ‘whatever’ gestures.

“If it makes you happy.”

Carefully I brewed a pot of Doke Black Fusion from Lochan teas. Boiling fresh water, a few tablespoons of leaf, three minutes. With little of my usual flair, I beckoned to him.

“Is it hot? Is it uncool to put sugar in this? It doesn’t smell bad.” He peers warily into the cup.

“I like coffee. I drink one cup a day. I have lived a long —“ Tentatively, he takes a tiny sip and grimaces. “Dadgummit! That’s hot! Can I put sugar in it?”

With resignation, I nod. I sip my tea and close my eyes in rapture. When I look up, he is spooning sugar into his cup with a look of pure mischief on his face. “Guessing it is not cool to put sugar in it. It cools it down even if it isn’t cool,” He steals a sidelong glance in my direction.

After a dramatic show of stirring clockwise and then counterclockwise, Dad takes a longer sip.  “Not bad.  Can’t say I am gonna retire the Keurig, though.  Did you know they make K-cups for tea? We can pick some up —“

“Dad! K-cups are worse for the environment than tea bags! The tea tastes just as stale in one of those forever plastic cups!” I realize he is pulling my leg as he pours his sugary brew out into the sink.

I glance up just in time to see that bald eagle come back downstream.

In a week or two, I might try the second steep on him.

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