2023-05-19: coffee and tea

when i was young and going to church every sunday, there were always refreshments after the service. tea and percolator coffee, cheap cookies, juice for the kids. when we were at that awkward in-between age — eleven, twelve — we tried our best to act older. had tea (coffee for the brave) with whitener and two or three sugar cubes, at least. at least. honestly, i hated it. i didn't drink tea again until my twenties, and then it was more a function of poverty.

i barely had money for food. my grocery budget was $30/wk. but tea was cheap. grocery store brand earl grey, the box of 250. i sat in my rented townhouse with my roommate at the edge of the city and drank pot after pot of fragrant, black tea. my pee must've smelled of bergamot, i drank so much. my roommate had his computer upstairs. he didn't work, just collected welfare and browsed myspace and flirted with girls on some gothy website. i played ffxi, wrote letters, wrote poems, tried to make sense of what was at the time the hardest and loneliest year of my life.

coffee came later. much more gradual: after i moved and started the most stable chapter of my life. i got it free at work. a perk of my job. it was truly awful stuff but eventually i realized that buying good beans and grinding them magically made good coffee. and somewhere along the line i started making iced tea and coffee rather than buying it. way cheaper than the grocery store, and better too. a while back, one of my high school friends and old crushes very briefly exported tea from sri lanka. i don't think it was ever serious. i think she just liked travelling and had some money saved up or maybe inherited. but i remember she gave me a bag of loose, fragrant orange pekoe as a gift, and i used this to make iced tea for a summer or two.

now that it's late may and the temperature's started to stabilize between warm and hot, i've been making both again. yesterday morning: cold brew coffee, the coarse grinds steeped in less water to make a concentrate. in the fridge for a day, then into a couple jars. this morning, added to a little water and milk over ice; incredibly cheap compared to what you'll get at starbucks, and better too.

this afternoon, a full kettle of water over seven teabags in a pot on the stove. seven minutes, remove the teabags, let everything cool, store in a jug in the fridge.

something about this ritual marks the start of summer for me. something comforting about the preparation and anticipation. the weather where i am so often depressing and faintly oppressive. summer and its trappings just the slightest reprieve.