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Confession time: my husband’s passing made me hesitate a bit in my tea ritual. For the last dozen years, the daily tea ritual was sacred. At first, he made tea for me as he brewed his daily espresso. Together, we would drink pot after pot of our favorite brews as we planned the day or discussed the news. In 2010, after a house fire and stress-related illness, Rafe gave up his espresso and joined me drinking tea. He preferred black to oolong.
“It is like giving yourself a morning hug!” he exclaimed.
Over the forty-two years we were married, I taught my husband how to hug. A real hug lasts at least eleven seconds. A real hug has no agenda other than releasing feel-good endorphins. The hug of a cup of tea and sharing an 11-second hug were inexplicably tied together in my grief and I had difficulty making myself a cup of tea unless I had guests. Somehow, grief reduced me to feeling like I did not deserve to be good to myself. I would grab a tea bag, run it through hot water, and go. Anything to push the loss out there.
In November of 2019, after mothballing my cottage on the East Fork of the Hood River, I moved into my father’s country home on the Klickitat River. Dad’s wife was in memory care and he was increasingly victim to falling and already into the habit of grazing on take-out rather than preparing wholesome meals for himself. Two souls grieving the loss of significant others came together to do for each other what we did not feel worthy of doing for ourselves.
I wish I could report that I successfully turned Dad into a tea-swilling vegan. Instead, Dad has turned me into a coffee-drinking Cheez-Its fiend. I blame it on the Keurig. At the press of a button, you can get a cup of coffee in less than a minute. Water is heated, forced through a perfectly measured portion of perfectly ground beans, and voila! The negative is that the k-cups are single-use plastics that stack up faster than Uncle Denny’s National Geographic collection. Convenience has its price.
I found k-cups that are reusable. Just grind your own beans, fill the cup and use in place of the disposables. Some experimentation led to the right grind (too fine and it gums up the works on the Keurig; too coarse results in a weak see-through brew); the spent grounds are marvelous additions to the compost. A new ritual is born!
Cheez-It crackers – the author’s current struggle
K-cups of tea
Imagine my surprise when my sister included a few dozen k-cups filled with herbal tisanes into the holiday gift box. Who would have thought that the k-cup universe included teas? The first one I tried was chamomile. Hard to screw up chamomile, I thought as I let my preconceived notions blow up into a full-on tea snob bias. Tentatively, I sipped. “Mmmmmm, this is good.” I was surprised. The peppermint was good. I put some of my favorite earl grey into a reusable k-cup and it was good, too. I have not tried any green, oolong, or white teas. There is no way to choose a hotter or cooler water temperature. There is no steep time since hot water is forced through the herbs in a single sustained push.
I am still drinking coffee, but now there is a convenient way to drink tea. The world is big enough for both. Now, if I could just get an eleven-second hug . . .
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