Throughout high school (and I guess the real world), coffee has infiltrated everyone's life at some point.
I have friends who cannot make it through the morning without a cup, and friends who cannot make it through the whole day without several of the caffeine-laced liquid. I hopped on the coffee-train around sophomore year because I honestly just wanted to bring my cute to-go mug to class because it would be cool to drink coffee as everyone else did.
What I didn't expect was to gain weight, have to go to the bathroom all day and stain my teeth. And even with all of that, it turns out that I was the kind of person that caffeine had no effect upon!
But no one wants to be exhausted going to class, especially in high school, when the first bell rang at 7:20 a.m.
My solution was to keep chugging along with the coffee because there was no way I was going to give up my habit of bringing that cute mug to class.
But it turns out I didn't have to because I found something else to fill it up in the mornings.
I grew up in a house that constantly had the kettle on the stove. There was an entire cabinet dedicated to tea in the kitchen. But the only one who drank it was my mother or when one of my sisters or myself had a sore throat. The classic Lipton yellow tea boxes were used by my father throughout the summertime for his massive batches of iced tea.
I was always around tea, but it never had the strong tastes or sweet notes that I sought for in a sugary cup of coffee. My mother had been offering me cups for years, but I never developed the same taste as she had. But all it took was a single trip to Teavanna (when it was still in business) for my whole perspective to change.
It took only a tiny holiday sample of an oolong chai tea to completely alter my perspective. Without sugar, or cream, or any flavoring syrup, the flavor was exploding in my mouth, and had even a little spice to it! It was the herbs and spices that accompanied the chai and tea leaves that made it so different.
I became an avid drinker of that spicy tea and bought so much that when Teavanna went of out business I still have a significant amount stocked up for use — even years later. The only problem with bringing it to class every day was that I was still falling asleep within first period, and it wasn't doing the trick of keeping my eyes and mind awake.
But the summer before my senior year, my mom came back from a tea-class with a strange, dense green powder. She called it matcha tea, and it was basically the "most amazing thing ever" and not even just taste-wise.
At first, I was so skeptical, it didn't taste as great the way I was making it and it wasn't something spicy or hearty. I also hated the fact I couldn't drink it with milk and couldn't have it hot. I wasn't finding anything great about it until after I stopped drinking it for a few days after trying it for a week (twice daily).
I was tired, lazy, and could barely stay awake. But I didn't feel like the matcha had made a difference because I was not vibrating with energy when I was drinking the tea. What my mom told me then was that — besides crazy health benefits — it gave an eight-hour energy high without the crash that caffeine from coffee gives (plus, it wasn't a diuretic). I could go on about matcha forever, but it might be another post for another week!
It was a habit to drink my matcha and spicy tea, but I wasn't a "tea drinker" yet. Any person can introduce a tea that you love to you, but it takes another "tea-drinker" to introduce the love of tea to another. The summer after senior year, before I left for college, I spent an incredible amount of time with my family. Summertime wasn't the best time for my hearty chai, and matcha was too expensive to drink all day. I started drinking what my mom drank (jasmine green and white tea) and exploring other types of teas when something caught my eye.
I grew more interested in physical and mental wellbeing (my major going into college was Public Health) and started exploring teas to help with skin, weight-loss, mood, and remedies for colds or allergies. It became my favorite hobby alongside herbalism and fitness and created something fun, tasty, and interesting for my mother, sisters and I to share. Now, we will sit for hours to talk at the breakfast table before the day starts, pouring cup after cup of tea, and having to refill the kettle more than a few times.
At school, eight hours away from that breakfast table with my family, tea has become more than a hobby: it has become a comfort and something to connect me to my family. Like so many college students, I am always calling or texting my family, especially my mom, every day. I know that whenever I pick up the phone and hear my mother's voice, there is always a mug of that jasmine green and white tea in her hands.
Time sometimes doesn't allow me to join her in our "tea talks" but every time I hold the warmth of some herbal tea in my hands, I always think of her, and much of the warmth I feel doesn't only come from the mug.
I write this post with a stuffy nose and a mug of steeping echinacea tea on the shelf beside me to help comfort that. To combine this newly found love of tea with reminiscence and effectiveness, I can give you a pretty good argument as to why you should really give that cup of "flavored hot water" a try.