COLUMNS

Come, have a cup of tea – and a few moments free – with me

Candace Cooksey Fulton-ccfulton2002@yahoo.com
CANDACE COOKSEY FULTON

A cup of tea. Always growing up, I’d love it when a character in a book settled things in her mind or with a friend over a cup of tea. I’d make the mental note, as a girl, that someday I’d get collected like that fine admirable character. I knew of course, I’d have to be older and wiser first.

But once I had the older and wiser part down, I didn’t see that I would ever have a problem being cool and sophisticated. With those things accomplished, I would have a tea kettle on the ready and fine china cups in the cabinet. Then, all that would be necessary would be a few problems to solve.

A-h-h-h-h fiction, it’s like it makes it OK for us to imagine it is alright to think we can be something we’re not. Or, maybe it just makes us aspire to be better, stronger, calmer, braver versions of ourselves and helps us despise those traits that detract from the improved version of who we want to be.

I think “somedays” are kind of like fine china cups. They’re nice to have but you don’t need or want them every day.

Anyway, truth is, I was Texan before I was a reader and a dreamer and over-thinker (at least I think I was), and we like our tea over ice, thank you very much. How do I really like my iced tea? OK honestly? I like it brewed and sweetened with sugar while hot, cooled and poured over ice in a glass tea glass.

And thanks to forebears as far back as I know, I like fresh-perked coffee sweetened with sugar and lightened with half and half cream in the morning. Two cups, one to wake up with and scatter the morning mind fog and one to enjoy, read the paper and plan the day on.

Yeah, that’s all gone the way of a good piece of fiction. Truth is, I gave up coffee in the morning about six years ago when I was trying to give up sugar and couldn’t figure out how to drink and enjoy unsweetened black coffee. Years and years ago, I’d learned to actually drink and enjoy unsweetened iced tea, but it had been under special circumstances. I was a counselor at a Girl Scout camp and sugar was rationed (except I guess for cookies) and it was 113 degrees in the shade. We’d take our iced tea anyway we could get it, thank you very much.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. In 2008, I started getting my morning caffeine fix with hot tea. I actually came close to achieving the “better me” I had come to believe was pure fiction. Yep. Had a stainless steel tea kettle on the stove, fine china cups in the cabinet and a collection of guest-tempting teas – green tea mostly with some offshoots, like blackberry or pomegranate, but some chia with cloves, some regular black tea and some (never even have broken the cellophane wrapping) chamomile – though I rarely had guests.

Then, last spring, I was a guest in a dear college friend’s home and she introduced me to the most wonderful tea, a simply sublime, delightful bursting with flavor tea. The brand is Good Earth Tea, the particular flavor is the “original sweet and spicy.”

Oh. Oh. Oh.

As the package boasts, “It’s not easy being good but someone has to do it.”

The sweet and spicy blend, also according to the package, “takes notes of cinnamon and tangles them up with sweet bursts of orange. The result is a surprisingly satisfying combination you can savor hot or cold.” And in tiny letters, near the bottom of the tea box, just below the list of ingredients, we find these fine three words, “no sugar added.”

And speaking of words, let me tell you another delightful thing about Good Earth’s tea bags. The tea bag tags. Each tag has a saying, a quote, a philosophy or a bit of advice.

Yesterday’s was a favorite. “Do no harm. Take no flack.”

Today’s was a repeat, but worth it. And from Lucille Ball to boot. “I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done.”

But among the many I have saved are these. “Drink life as it comes, straight, no chasers.” (Bush) “Honesty is an expensive gift. Do not expect it from cheap people.” (Warren Buffet) “The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.” (William James)

As I’ve learned from Sue Potts, whose wisdom rated a tag weeks ago, “The sweetest savorings of life are often found in the small sips.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Candace Cooksey Fulton is a freelance writer, formerly of Brownwood, living now in San Angelo. She can be reached at ccfulton2002@yahoo.com.