You know that old nursery rhyme about being a little tea-pot, short and stout? While the rest of my kindergarten class would revel in acting out each line, I’d be running circles around them. What was I doing? Pretending to be the tea that would pour out, instead. And that, in a nutshell, defines my love for tea. Leaving all rhyme and reason behind, my love affair with this leafy green infusion began young.
Perhaps, it had to do with the ‘specialness’ of morning tea — a luxury my parents seemed to enjoy every morning, and one that wasn’t ordained for the little ones. I still remember the first time I convinced my mum to let me have a sip. From then on, the two drops of tea that were sometimes poured into my tiny porcelain teacup made my day. Those mornings, I’d feel a little bit special, and a little more grown up.
Somehow, tea and I grew apart the rest of my school years. Not by choice, but only circumstance — I had long grown out of my tiny teacup, and I had bigger things to worry about. The never-ending stream of exams and tests, for one! So, when my class decided to pool in their meagre savings to buy all our teachers a gift after we graduated, I was surprised by my own suggestion. Maybe it was latent memories of my obsession, or maybe it was the opportunity to play with words – but let’s just say everyone immediately got on board. We’d buy a hand-picked assortment of tea gifts for our teachers, with the simple message – “We owe it all to your tea-ching, our dearest tea-chers! You deserve this cuppa and more.”
Needless to say, that day was made even more special when our gym coach slipped out a confiscated water kettle from his cupboard, and we all proceeded to share a memorable cup of tea together. From that day on till today, my love story with tea has only gotten headier and more complicated. Now, I’m that tea nerd who will instruct a tired roommate exactly how long to steep tea for, or how to put away a brewing basket properly. On a good day, I’m that person who shows up to exhibitions with kitschy handmade gifts for tea lovers, while on a bad day I show up to work with a tea stain on my shirt.
And then, of course, was the time that my two greatest loves — tea, and my partner — came together on one beautiful, star-crossed journey. I guess it’s clear that I’m a little bit tea-obsessed, and one Sunday brunch over tea, my wonderful partner got down on one knee and began to sing that old Doris Day song –
Picture you upon my knee,
Just tea for two and two for tea,
Just me for you
And you for me alone.
So for some reason, the people in my life have put up with my obsession for tea, many have embraced it and some have become ambassadors in their own right! Throughout this journey, there’s one thing I couldn’t be surer of. Tea does bring people together. Whether it was a bunch of teachers and students leaving formalities behind and enjoying their last afternoon together as friends, or those countless times when someone needed a hot beverage after a tough day — there’s just something special about brewing and being together.