A, B, C, D… the alphabet is great for tea! And the best letter is “T” for without it, how could we have tea? (Yes, I know, we also need an “E” and an “A” — bear with me here!) There are lots of words for this beverage steeped from the leaves of Camellia Sinensis: “tea,” “tay,” “te,” “thé,” “cha,” “chai,” and so on. In true Anglo-centric fashion, though, this is about just one ― TEA!
Words are often loaded with layers of meanings. There are the dictionary meanings ― the ones you find in those hefty tomes by such word aficionados as the folks at Merriam-Webster and Oxford University Press. There are the scientific meanings like you find on Wikipedia and Teacraft.com, in addition to a stack of scholarly texts on chemistry, biology, and botany. And then there are those connotative meanings ― more like mental associations, like when someone says “homemade apple pie” and you can almost smell the aroma and taste the cinnamony apple-y goodness baked by Mom (or maybe even Dad).
“Tea” is just such a word, full of those first two kinds of meanings but totally stuffed with that third kind.
Tea is a hot beverage, a chilled beverage, something to steep by the potful, something to steep by tossing a few leaves into a gaiwan containing some water heated to just the right temperature. Tea can be a way of bringing people together and a bringing of solitary solace after a tough and stressful day. Tea stimulates with its caffeine and soothes with its wonderful flavors and aromas (not to mention the fairly restful act of tea steeping. Tea inspires the poet, the painter, the musician, and the writer. Tea is central to ceremonies, cultures, philosophies, and even a religion or two. Tea can be blended and flavored to expand on the hundreds of teas now available, meaning that you can find one to call your own. And each time you have some you will be building up your own connotative meanings ― your own set of memories that will be associated with the smell and flavor.
Yes, indeed, “T” is not just a letter of the alphabet. Nor are “E” and “A” ― especially when they are strung together to form the word “tea”!
Steep up your favorite tea today and build up some of those memories. Enjoy!
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