A drink with jam and bread was definitely the first time I heard the phrase.
I’ve never had a strong affinity or preference for tea or coffee. As I grew older, I’ve found comfort in the chocolate milkshakes and hot cocoa I can make in the hostel when I’m in the mood for warm drinks. This isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy exploring tea or coffee: I adore that activity – finding new things always excites me, but, if I’m asked at an evening gathering what drink I’d prefer, I would struggle to come up with an answer. This puts me in awkward situations at several group gatherings, where I refrain from asking for anything around tea-time, and at awkward circumstances after breakfasts at relatives’ houses, when I choose not to drink things. I overcame this obstacle by feigning a preference that mirrored the preference of my host, something that would bring the most joy to the group without causing any inconvenience for whoever was hosting me on a particular day.
None of that brought me personal relief though. I was as confused as ever, not because I enjoy both drinks equally, but because they are met with equal reactions of indifference. I like them both because when served warm on a cold day they can bring a lot of comfort. Things are made particularly tricky because my roots and the way my identity almost mandates a self-identified preference for coffee, but my upbringing and my formative years were spent in a country that’s known for its tea variant.
Ordinarily, it would be this stage of the essay that led to a resolution of this conflict: some indication that I have some sort of a clear preference.
Unfortunately, I do not. Not as of yet. I think it’s very mood-dependent. I’m very, okay, with both drinks. However, my indifference has definitely been replaced with a, satisfication, if you will. I now enjoy drinking tea, and drinking coffee. I like them both. Equally. At par with each other. I have no preference, not as yet, but I enjoy the taste of both drinks on the tongue. Which I think is a step forward.
I think all of it stems from how I spent the break, and how I ended up learning to make tea for my parents. Good tea. I accompanied my mother when she drank coffee, but I accompanied them both in the evening as they drank their teas, and I learned how the flavour pores into the water and then into the milk. How the beans and leaves ooze out complexity only our tongues can understand and our noses can process.
It’s one of the things I will miss about being at home with both my parents. Especially given that we consumed a copious amount of biscuits while we were at it.