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Tea — Straying from the Family Tradition

Coming from a long line of coffee drinkers, I am nevertheless a devout tea drinker. My childhood memories of coffee are many and emotionally evocative. Dad getting up early in the morning for work, having his toast, corn flakes, and a cup or two of coffee (with milk but no sugar). The smell of fresh coffee grounds in the morning on Saturday and Sunday as a precursor to the aroma of bacon being fried up crispy and pancakes getting golden brown on the griddle. And much more.

Remember percolators? You put the coffee grounds into a basket at the top and water into the body. Plug it in, turn it on, and as the water heats, it “percolates” (thus the name) the water up through a hollow support in the middle that then drips back down through the grounds, grabbing coffee bits along the way. It took about 15 or 20 minutes to finish brewing the coffee, with the scent growing stronger and wafting through the kitchen out into the dining area.

With all of these fond experiences and such a family tradition, how did I stray? Why didn’t I become a coffee gourmet, instead of an avid tea drinker? One reason: tummy trouble.

Let’s face it, I’m a delicate flower, at least that’s what hubby tells me. And he never lies. It’s certainly true where my digestion is concerned. Over the years, I have dealt with food allergies that pop up suddenly (bananas, strawberries, chocolate sometimes, etc.), reactions to wheat and dairy that come and go, upsets due to EPA-mandated chlorine and chloramine in the drinking water, and nausea (possibly mild gastritis) caused by the acid in coffee.

“But,” you say, “tea has acid.” (Camellia Sinensis leaves contain tannin, which is 10-20% gallotannic acid.)

Since I use milk in my black teas, including Darjeelings, and sometimes in Oolongs, and since milk tends to neutralize the gallotannic acid, I don’t have any digestive issues. (For some reason, milk in coffee doesn’t seem to have the same neutralizing effect.) Problem solved.

Tea has such variety, also. Yes, there are coffee beans grown in Colombia, Guatemala, and other countries with different growing climates, and each has it’s own flavor. Yes, those beans can be roasted and ground in different ways to change the flavor. However, a lot of different coffee “flavors” are additives, versus the thousands of different flavors in teas simply from where the tea leaves are grown, when they are harvested, and how they are processed. (Some Japanese green teas have a subtly distinct flavor based on being covered at a certain time during the growing season.)

Of course, teas have flavors added, too. Flowers, vanilla, mint, oil of bergamot and other fruits, and much more are very popular. For the most part, my “delicate flower” digestive system isn’t bothered by most of these (peppermint being the main exception), which makes life much easier for me and means that hubby gets his special coffees all to himself.

Here’s a tea salute to family traditions and to straying from them to save your “tummy” from an upset. Enjoy!

Stop by A.C.’s blog, Tea Time with A.C. Cargill, and pay ‘er a visit!

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