If there is ever a concoction known as the “writer’s brew”, it may go to that prepared from Camellia sinensis. This popular aromatic beverage is known as “tea”. Originating initially in Southwest China, it began as a medicinal drink which slowly popularized to being a recreational beverage. Maybe it is the right combination of polyphenols, caffeine and L-theanine which helped tea beat down the stress and boost the creativity. Maybe it’s because of the latter, that tea can be labelled as the writer’s brew (although some writer’s may differ).
For me, the tussle between “the theophylline”, “the caffeine” and “tisanes” are pretty strong. However without fail everyday, the morning is commenced by a pot of black tea with a liberal addition of milk or cream or sometimes sugar, depending on the mood of the hour. Preparing the morning tea is a very comforting procedure and brings back good memories to start the day. Besides there is something to be said about doing a routine which my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother had done every morning. As Muriel Barbery wrote in The Elegance of the Hedgehog, “When tea becomes ritual, it takes its place at the heart of our ability to see greatness in small things. Where is beauty to be found? In great things that, like everything else, are doomed to die, or in small things that aspire to nothing, yet know how to set a jewel of infinity in a single moment?”
This beverage has proportioned to become a culture. Come to think of it, every country has its own set of tea rituals. In India, every home starts the morning and evening with tea. Even guests are greeted with tea, not to mention office breaks and post-meetings sessions.The tea ceremony is different in Japan, where it is a cultural activity involving a cup of powdered green tea (Matcha) and savories. Where ever the place maybe, tea settles a lot many problems. To quote David Walliams in “Mr Stink”, ““In Britain, a cup of tea is the answer to every problem.
Fallen off your bicycle? Nice cup of tea.Your house has been destroyed by a meteorite? Nice cup of tea and a biscuit.Your entire family has been eaten by a Tyrannosaurus Rex that has travelled through a space/time portal? Nice cup of tea and a piece of cake. Possibly a savoury option would be welcome here too, for example a Scotch egg or a sausage roll.”
As for the varieties of tea, there is an endless list but it is not the same as herbal teas. As Bryan Lee O’Malley wrote in Scott Pilgrim, Volume 1: Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life, “What kind of tea do you want?”
“There´s more than one kind of tea?…What do you have?”
“Let´s see… Blueberry, Raspberry, Ginseng, Sleepytime, Green Tea, Green Tea with Lemon, Green Tea with Lemon and Honey, Liver Disaster, Ginger with Honey, Ginger Without Honey, Vanilla Almond, White Truffle Coconut, Chamomile, Blueberry Chamomile, Decaf Vanilla Walnut, Constant Comment and Earl Grey.”
-“I.. Uh…What are you having?… Did you make some of those up?”
All said, tea with its’ own variants like black tea, green tea, oolong tea and so on have become an art in its own right. For many generations , tea sets and porcelain have been heirlooms, thereby adding the rich tradition and culture to art.