Friday, February 10, 2006

Morning Tea

The perfume escaping the Meyer lemon tree, exotic as gardenias in winter, or like sweet-scented coffee blossoms. I've never seen tea blossoms but I imagine them to be exotic, like camellias. This morning I saw a photo of women picking tender leaves, hand pruning bushes with leaves glossy as camellias. Centuries of fingers have prised the leaves into topiary hedges. I am fond of my black tea in the morning. It gives substance and balance to my day. A morning without tea , andI feel sullen and sleepy, on the wrong side of the bed, even if there's only one side of the bed to begin with. Tea allows me to turn over a new leaf each day, not that I drink it black, or with citrus, like the English. No, the Irish are the singlemost largest consumers of tea, beating the national average of India or China. They drink out of such tiny cups, it would take them all day to catch up with us. No green tea or chai for me (once I thought I was having a heart attack, replete with palpitations, after a Pakistani friend fixed me a proper cup of Indian tea… He boiled the leaves with canned milk and cardamom for what seemed like hours. He added copious amounts of sugar. Lethal stuff.) No, I drink my tea with milk and sugar, added by the scant teaspoon full. The mug is important, as is the spoon. My only silver spoon, a castoff from someone's grandmother, garlanded with roses, the shank balanced just right so you can teeeter-totter it on your index finger while waiting for the tea to brew exactly 5 minutes. And the mug, sky blue on the outside with Paleolithic symbols, bear paws and Kokapelli, the water sprinkler guarding it. On the inside, it's orange as the Grand Canyon and wwritten on the rim like a watermark rise. My oversize handleless coffee mug that has never seen morning coffee, opens my eyes and offers me up to soaring heights of morning with that charge and verve of a citrus sunrise.