I’ve been watching all the tea-drinking online as people celebrate the launch of Lori Rader-Day’s Death at Greenway and thinking about how seriously writers seem to take their beverages. My question is are you a tea drinker or a coffee drinker, or both? Is drinking either part of your writing ritual? Are there any other beverages you connect to your writing? And, yes Alexia, it can involve bourbon or other spirits.
Me: I’ve tried to like tea many times. It’s such a civilized beverage, but I am a dark French roast coffee drinker who thinks it’s blasphemy to add sugar or milk. I have discovered Irish Gunpowder Gin, which contains botanicals, including green tea, if that counts.
Keenan: A pot of Death Wish to start off my writerly activities at 0430. When that runs out, around now noon, I switch to Tazo Green China Tips.
Emilya: Funny you ask! Just this morning I crushed the mint I grew and dried over the summer. I’ll probably have one more
harvest before the weather really turns. Tea is not a beverage, it’s a way of life. Recently my mix of choice is Irish Breakfast with loose chamomile flowers. SO delicious. If I can get them, I buy dried rosehips and rose petals and add to looseleaf ceylon black tea. If all else fails, Earl Grey, Vanilla Chai, and Pomegranate/Hibiscus.
What I will drink only if the alternative is dying: bagged tea in a styrofoam cup with overly hot urn water.
Yes, tea snob… No coffee, but lately I’ve been known to have an espresso martini or a Mexican or Irish Coffee in a bar.
Tracee: I am a confirmed Twinings Lady Grey tea user. Legend says that it is based on a tea presented to the second earl Grey by an envoy returning from China. He asked for it to be recreated – it’s a light, mild aromatic blend with orange and lemon peel along with a few other citrus flavors.
That’s my everyday tea. For a special treat, I like Plummy Earl Grey also by Twinings. I can only buy it in England or have a friend ship it from London. It’s best described as a plum flavor black tea with bergamot and star anise. That doesn’t quite sum up how special it is. The scent alone is something . . .
Alexia: I drink tea and coffee. Coffee is more of a weekday/morning drink, tea is more of a weekend/wind down drink. Growing up, Mom would always make a cup of Lipton tea every Sunday and drink it with a sweet as a mini-lunch while she cooked Sunday dinner. (Sunday dinner was served earlier than weekday dinners so a full lunch would have been too much.) Iced tea (sweet, of course) was always on hand at Grandma’s house in the summer. I didn’t start drinking coffee until college. There was a coffee shop on campus that was a popular study hangout. That was my first experience with “frou-frou” coffee. I loved it.
I’m not a true coffee/tea snob as I will drink instant coffee and bottled sweet tea. I prefer espresso drinks crafted at local coffee shops. The ambiance of the shop adds to the coffee experience.
One of my favorite tea shops is Summit Spice and Tea in Anchorage, Alaska. (See, Keenan, I liked a few things in Alaska.) They sell every bulk tea and spice you can imagine. They also have a tea room. Tea rooms do for tea what coffee shops do for coffee. It’s an experience. I haven’t been able to find another tea shop on par with Summit. I have been to some lovely afternoon teas/high teas at various hotels. The Joule hotel in Dallas has been my favorite. In the before times when we were able to travel, I’d check to see if whatever hotel I was going to served afternoon tea. There is a British grocery store here in Colorado Springs that serves afternoon tea. I’ve been once. The tea is PG Tips. Their finger sandwiches were amazing.
I have a collection of teapots. I have almost 2 dozen, from small cast iron, clay, and porcelain Chinese pots to no-frills Brown Betty pots, to fancy sets with cups and saucers to match the pots. My favorite is an electric teapot handed down from a great aunt. I have a silver plate tea service. I confess to wanting an actual sliver service.
I save the adult beverages–bourbon is still the favorite–for evenings. Since meeting Chantal Tseng, a bartender who had to invent a virtual career after the pandemic shut down bars, I’ve become more Interested in cocktails. I lean toward the old-fashioned mixed drinks, like Old Fashioneds. My dad gave me his old cabaret set (a set of miniature barware in a hard-sided case designed to be portable). It looks like a prop from Mad Men. I love that BYOB used to be called “cabaret-style.” That sounds so much more glamorous.
The beverages aren’t really tied to my writing, especially the alcohol, which makes me sleepy. That line about “write drink, edit sober” is nonsense. When I’m writing, I usually just have water. When I’m having coffee, tea, or liquor, I’m more focused on enjoying the beverage than getting work done. (At my day job, sometimes a nice, hot cup of coffee or tea makes frustrations easier to deal with.)
Tracee: I think Alexia and I should not be allowed alone together in a shop that sells tea things. We might egg each other on to buy things we absolutely don’t need! I love all things tea – – the pots, strainers, random cups.
I’ve included one that I didn’t collect but came to my husband from his parents. It is a Russian-style samovar, which they had in the Baltic States before they left in the 1920s. The other image is of a traditional clay teapot given to me as a gift and a ceramic teapot which my husband and I bought in Hong Kong when we were married.
Susan: I pretty much drink whatever is easiest to get my hands on, which usually means water or a Keurig coffee. But my favorite tea that I ever had was in India, when I stayed at an orphanage. It was so cold there, and every morning one of the girls would tap on my door and hand me a metal mug of tea. There must have been 4 spoons full of sugar in it. It was so sweet and wonderful and a great way to start the day
Connie: If I had to give up one, coffee or tea, I’d give up tea. Coffee is my morning drink every day, plus an afternoon pick-up when I’m writing. But I love special teas in the winter with lemon and honey.