I have waxed lyrical about my infinite love for ginger tea so many times in this space. Any time is tea time for me. When we were kids, my mom was a massive tea drinker. She used to have humungous glasses of tea, glasses as big as beer mugs. She could not function without having her morning cuppa. Then while cooking she used to have one more. Once back home, she used to have a huge glassful again. It was not good tasting either. She would take a little milk, double the quantity of water, one tea spoonful of sugar and 2 tea spoons of dust tea (there is a lot of difference between dust and leaf tea, if we got the latter for her, she used to go crazy). The tea was a bitter concoction that was virtually un-consumable for me. There was one point in time where she switched to black tea with a slice of lemon, and no sugar. She was hard core when it came to the drink. Since she was addicted to tea, her worst fear was the same fate befalling her daughters. As kids, we were attracted to the magnificent aroma. One sip of her tea and we were back to our senses. At my maternal grand mother's place, whenever we went for vacations, tea was a huge ritual. All the aunties and uncles and grand-uncles and grand-aunts would gather around the huge dining table and drink tea while snacks and savouries were passed around. We kids were only allowed to have the biscuits and the 'mixtures' (Mixtures mean a very different thing in India :-) )The closest we were allowed to get to tea was to dip the thin arrow root biscuit or the Milk Bikis in the tea. There was a strange mother-child vis-à-vis aunt-nephew/niece bonding at work there. If the child took the third biscuit to be dipped into the mom's cup, he/she was sure to get an admonition for making the tea cold by 'adulterating' it. That’s when the aunty would come to rescue and offer her tea which would have already been tampered with by her child and hence taken off limits. That would be one scenario where aunty was much better than mummy :)
My dad preferred the milder version of tea. It was leaf tea, with a lot of milk, just some water to take care of the evaporation, 2 tea spoonfuls sugar mildly boiled to a light concentration. He used to have his morning tea and one cup in the evening. When my mom started working in a different location, he had to make his own brew. Being the lazy man that he is he struck upon an idea. He decided to transition some tea-making knowledge to his eldest off spring. When he had the first cup of tea, made by me, the comment was – 'This is much better than what your mother makes!' High praise indeed. When I started making the evening tea on a regular basis, I could not stay away from temptation for long. One day I took a sip and it did taste good. Nothing like mom's bitter brew. I made a cup for myself. With biscuit the taste was first class! I offered some to my sister –aged 6 then. Being a true blue foodie, at that early age, she could discern my fantastic skills. Till date dad and sis claim I make the best tea. For that matter even my mil claims to all, that no one can make tea like me. Anyone who comes home is certainly offered some tea made by her daughter in law – whether they liked it or not :P
Though the schools of thought when it came to tea were so different, the family was united on the coffee front. Coffee was made of pure milk, with lots of sugar and just a pinch of coffee. It was a commodity of luxury and was not consumed everyday. It was only for lazy afternoons or special occasions like holidays or cricket match breaks (back in the days where 50-50 version of the game was more popular). Since it did not have that much caffeine (due to the miniscule quantity that was added), we were allowed to have it more easily. I used to love coffee, it was not tastier but its aroma was more hypnotising. The nose succumbed first. The nose is half the deal when it comes to taste.
Surprise of surprises I got married into a TamBram family where filter coffee is fuel. The first thing that is done in the morning is putting some water for boiling. Ground coffee is pressed into the coffee filter and the boiled water is then poured to make the decoction. In a steel tumbler, a peg of decoction is poured, a little sugar and the solution is made not by stirring, but by pouring the decoction from the tumbler into a flatter vessel and vice versa. This process is carried out till the sugar has dissolved. Fresh boiled milk is poured and voila! Filter kapi ready. When I had it the first time, it was like a whole new world opened for me. What was the thing I used to have earlier? Like a drug addict goes on to higher levels and small amounts don’t give the kick (I know I am watching too much Breaking Bad :D) , the coffee I used to consume earlier seemed like some kids version. I was in for the real thing. I was a changed person.
When we moved to the UK, I was bowled over by the variety of coffee. There was Columbian, Brazilian, from Costa Rica and where not. There were types, strengths, different roasts, flavours, syrups and toppings to go - it was as if a committee sat and thought Coffee(I am sure there are such people :) ). Being a colder place, the urge to have the warm drink was always round the corner. To address the issue of lethargy when it came to making another mug, I decided to go full length at a go. That’s when I migrated to having huge mugs of ultra strong coffee. The usual quantity we used to have in tumbler seems unsatisfactory. I needed my full dose. So I went from having coffee flavoured milk to big mugs of very strong coffee. I can imagine how my mom reached where she is when it comes to tea. In spite of having progressed on the coffee world, my first love is still tea and more specifically ginger tea. I believe there are very few things a warm cup of ginger tea cannot cure, especially if they are things pertaining to the mind :)
What I have here, is just a snapshot. I could go on telling tales around tea and coffee and idiosyncrasies of acquaintances around the drinks. I could have a whole post on the similarities and differences , a S.W.O.T analysis of tea and coffee, my experiences with different types of tea and coffee in different places, shop drinks versus home made . In short, I could go on and on till dear reader would need a cup of tea or coffee :)