It's a cold December day here and so to take the chill off the afternoon, I made us some tea. When I was about six, my best friend, Nicci, had a tea party for her birthday. We were served tiny cups of tea with plenty of milk and sugar with our cake, and with one sip of that warm, sweet, creamy goodness I was hooked.
The only problem was that my mom would only allow me to have tea when I was sick. Despite my persistent requests, anything with caffeine and three teaspoons of sugar was definitely in the special occasion category. And so it remained, until one evening when we had a babysitter, and it occurred to me to ask her for a cup of tea.
I remember that she was surprised that such a little kid would drink tea, and I was flattered by my presumed sophistication. We didn't even have a tea kettle (my parents were coffee drinkers) so she boiled the water in a sauce pan and poured it carefully over one of the Tetley tea bags that my mom kept for iced tea. At my direction, she heaped three spoons of sugar into the steaming mug, but I was unprepared for her next question. "Do you like milk or lemon?"
My mind raced. I had only had hot tea with milk, and that's how I liked it, but I loved lemon, and that sounded really good, too. "Both," I said.
She looked confused. "Really?" she asked.
"Oh yeah," I told her, "I have it like that all the time."
She shrugged and a minute later set the curdled brew in front of me with some skepticism. It looked awful and tasted worse, but I knew I had to drink it, and I did.
It was a long time before I drank hot tea again, and over the years I've tried lots of different teas in several different ways, but these days it's milk and sugar again.