Just as in other areas of life, we develop habits in our tea drinking. Perhaps there is a certain type of tea you drink in the morning and a different one that is only for afternoon. Perhaps you use a certain mug every morning, or have a tea-making ritual that you follow like clockwork. Perhaps you reserve specific teapots for specific teas. Perhaps you only take one kind of tea with milk, or never drink that type without it.
But what happens if you are forced to break your tea habits? Maybe your usual mug cracks, or you are unexpectedly out of your regular tea one morning. After an initial panic and/or momentary breakdown, you might find that this rupture in your tea ritual actually allows for possibility.
I had this experience recently when I was unable to drink a cup of Lady Londonderry with milk—a tea that I only ever drink that way. Tragically, I did not discover that I was out of milk until after I had boiled the water and started to steep my tea.
I had a momentary breakdown.
However, I couldn’t bring myself to waste good tea, so I pulled myself together and decided to drink it. Having some foresight, I didn’t let the tea steep quite as long as I would have if I was adding milk in the hopes of making it drinkable. Then I braced myself to suffer through the cup of non-milky tea. I took a sip and was shocked…I did not hate it! True, it didn’t taste the same as with milk, but without milk it was a completely different tea, and one that I almost quite liked.
As I sipped the tea, it continued to grow on me. I realised that I probably would never have made this discovery of my own volition because I never would have intentionally prepared it without milk. Lady Londonderry is a tea I go to when I want something a little sweet (the tea has floral and fruit flavours) but also warming and filling (the milk achieves this). In other words, when I crave Lady Londonderry, part of what I am wanting is a milky tea. But I had just discovered a whole new way to experience this tea. I had thought that I didn’t really care for it without milk, based, no doubt, on some long ago experience with a badly brewed cup. This experience was quite different, and I have ventured to intentionally drink it without milk at least once since then (!). Although I still usually add milk to this tea, I no longer class it as “a tea that I only drink with milk”, and as such it has acquired a greater application within my tea repertoire.
So although unforeseen elements might force you to break your tea habits, maybe this is a good thing. You might discover some new tea experiences that you actually quite like, and in the process shift, remake, or even create some new tea habits.
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