I lift the cup to my lips and cautiously take the first sip of tea.
Cherry is not my first choice of flavor, like, ever. Hibiscus is not exactly a favorite either. But I trust this barista, so when he recommends Cherry Hibiscus as one of the best teas they have had recently, I go for it full force.
“I’ll have the teapot,” I said. After all, it’s only a $0.50 difference from the cup, for four times as much. We chatted as he prepared it. “I’ll set a timer and yell when it is ready,” the barista said. I am a regular here, regular enough to notice that he recently shaved his beard. We had a conversation about break-up beards before I ordered. It segued into conversation about the wonders of the west coast and how we both desire to return to the land we come from.
What a wonder of human consciousness that is. We can spend forever in a place. We can be bored by the doldrums of living in a place, filled with an inescapable desire to move on. Yet once we have left, we get homesick. I see this all the time in first-year college students. I have felt this as a native Californian living in another state.
These adventures are wonderful. We talk about Oklahoma, we talk about coffee and tea. He remembers that I haven’t ordered yet. So he asks what I want.
“Tea, I think. What kind of herbal tea do you have right now?” I asked. This café has a rotating selection, and it has been a few weeks since I have been here. He recommends cherry hibiscus.
E-40 raps through my headphones as I sip the tea. It is sweet. As it runs down my esophagus, I feel a bitter tang in my mouth. The tea has a wonderful afterbite. I nurse the cup and lean back for a second. Sipping again. I put the cup down.
The problem with ordering a full teapot is that I always struggle with pace. Too fast and I have wasted it all. Too slow, and the last cup is cold. I guess that is how life is.
We can try to rush through the situation and miss the pain or joy in it. Or miss both. But if we take it too slow, the experiences come across as dull. It is important to enjoy the flavor – the pain or joy of each experience. To fully savor it. Each bit of joy makes the pain that much harder, but each bit of pain makes the joy that much sweeter.
I pour the last of the teapot into the cup. The last cup of tea always has the most distinct flavor. It is the bits at the bottom, the sweet nature of the fruitiness is quickly followed by the more bold bitterness.