Friday night, I had a wretched time falling asleep. Then, I woke up at 3am, exhausted but alert.
I've never been one to have trouble sleeping, but I understood why it was happening. On Friday, grading had ended and stress, an important part of my body's ecosystem, had gone missing. Summer has its own work and pressures, but is so dramatically different from the school year, it is a shock to flip from one to the other.
There I lay, wide awake, empty, exhausted, and with a vicious craving for a cup of tea. I dragged myself out of bed and set some water to boil. Sure, tea has caffeine, but I could tell I wasn't going to sleep anyway, so I figured it couldn't make anything worse.
Making tea "properly" is one of the first things my brothers and I learned to do. Long before we knew how to fill the dishwasher, do our own laundry, or any of the myriad other household chores that would become our responsibilities, we were taught how to make a cup of tea to our mum's specifications.
Producing a perfect cup of tea is something we can all do by rote, 15+ years since moving out of our parents' home. Of course, "perfect" here is calibrated to my mom's taste, but I have friends who have learned just to ask for tea in my mom's style when I offer to bring them a beverage. It's that good.
On Friday night, sipping that cup of "mom style" tea, curled up in bed with a book, I felt my body slowly adjust to summer. And somehow, taking in that caffeine, I drifted off to sleep, placing the empty mug on the bedside table as I snuggled under my quilt.
For your own magic cup of mom tea, follow this recipe.
1. You need a big mug. One that holds about 1.5 cups of liquid.
2. You need Silk soy milk. Either the plain one, or the organic vanilla (the organic vanilla is not too sweet, the normal vanilla one is). Soy milk is made in a variety of ways and many brands will curdle if put into tea, which is why I'm being specific about the brand. Neither my mom nor I drink cow's milk---she's lactose intolerant, I just think it is gross. You could of course make this with cow's milk, but the flavor will be different and it might not be magical.
3. Tea. This is what I buy at grocery store. My mom brings back tea bags from England each summer (PG Tips, I think, the recipe is different in Britain; it is like how Guinness tastes one way in Ireland, another in America, and another in Asia.) Anyway, tea bags matter, these are good and inexpensive.
4. Water. You have to boil your water in a kettle or on the stove. Not in the microwave. It needs to be brought to a full boil, so if making it on the stove, don't take it off the heat at the first sign of steam, but rather wait for it to get to a rolling boil. Most electric kettles with auto-shut off will do this accurately.
5. Put a teabag in the bottom of your mug. Pour 1.5 cups of boiling water directly on top of the tea bag. If the tea bag has air in it, push out the air with a spoon, then, cover the top of the mug and let the tea brew.
6. Take off the lid and remove the tea bag from the water. If you leave the bag in, the tea will get bitter.
7. Add 1/2 cup of Silk. Enjoy.
I started writing this yesterday, Sunday, but had to stop as I ran out of time. I thought it would take 30 minutes to write this down. It took more. Also, it started to seem alarmingly precise. I mean, wow am I exact when I make a cup of tea. I knew I was picky, but this seemed excessive to me, yesterday, as the lines added up.
Anyway, I stopped because Lurky came over to work on her quilt and so I was hand-stitching binding on the Double Plus Good Quilt and she was piecing on my machine. And we were chatting about this and that and playing music. Then two things happened: Lurky asked for a mug of mom tea (unprompted!) And we turned the music off and played an episode of Doctor Who in which the Doctor's life is saved by a cup of tea (and then he saves planet Earth). I took these as signs that I should blog about tea, after all.