Whenever somebody offers me tea and asks me what kind, I’ll generally ask for “something grassy.”
Well, besides that I hate the disappointment of so many of the fake-tasting fruity ones, and try to avoid the many additives in the designer teas, and steer clear of caffeine in the afternoon…
The grassy ones bring the joys of childhood moments into the present.
They are sunny days in the backyard, looking for a four-leaf clover and never finding one because it got kind of boring and oh well my sister always finds them and smushes them inside a book, so I know they’re in that patch somewhere.
It’s the long grasses in the ditch along the road by our friends’ farm. She was almost old enough to be our grandma but she had a playful youth about her – she showed us a plant whose flowers are like tiny balloons and if you hold them just right you can pop them against your wrist with a snapping sound. Probably against other things, too, but she showed us with her wrist so that’s what we mimicked.
The eating of various plants – starting with purple clover (which is actually – and inexplicably – called red clover) (did we call it honeysuckle?), and then wondering if the little white ones were just as good. They’re not. Not even close.
Picking raspberries along the edge of “the woods” – that strip of trees the developer leaves in a neighbourhood that was like our Hundred Acre Wood. I’d eat a few, they’re prickly basterds, but my four-leaf-clover sister could pick enough for Mom to make a batch of jam.
Sometimes the tea is the taste of evergreen-smell in those woods in the wintertime. Their droopy boughs shielding the sparse parts at the bottom from snow, creating an insulated, almost-warm spot out of the wind where you could stop and listen to the snow falling quietly like the softest exhale.
Or the front yard at Grandma’s, the scruffy grass growing out of the red, iron-smelling dirt and the huge, supremely fragrant boxwood bushes and the slightly clangy old bench-swing. And the ravine with high (to us), steep sides running between the lower pasture and the long driveway. That farm where my best childhood memories were made. At night, the taste of that red dirt in your nose as Mom and Dad try to herd you into the tub before storytime.
Those mysterious cattails. Maybe because their name is about the animal, or for some other reason, I always thought those cattails knew something. I never asked them, because I didn’t want them to tell me that it wasn’t something for a little girl like me to know. I didn’t realize what I now know: who better to whisper secrets to than her?
The tea brings me back to those moments when I was still present. Before I learned how to escape the pain, along with the joy that comes before and after it. The smell of toddling behind Mom in the garden, the black earth cool between my toes, and that black-earth taste that is somehow still on the best carrots and makes me buy organic root vegetables and not peel them.
My own little tea ceremony. The nostalgia, the joy, the simplicity. The pondering of blossoms, the grounding in the moment, the gratitude, the self-care.