Growing up in the States the only hot drinks I liked were warmed apple cider and hot chocolate. I wasn’t even a coffee drinker in a nation of Starbucks. Ok, Starbucks didn’t exist when I lived there. I loved coffee flavoured candy though.
Anyway, when I came to Britain where hot drinks are so common they’ve invented a quick source for boiling water (the electric kettle, woo hoo!), I gradually came to understand that when people offered you a cup of tea they would be uncomfortable if you didn’t accept. After 20 some years I still don’t like hot tea with milk (or cold tea with milk, for that matter), but I have adjusted my taste buds to enjoy black hot tea. The joke is always the same when I go to a new house:
‘What are you having?’
‘Well I was going to have a tea.’
‘Tea would be lovely, thanks. Black please.’
‘Black? As in black–no milk?’
‘No milk, thanks.’
‘Lemon? Oh, actually I’m not sure if we have lemon.’
‘No, just black. Maybe some cold water though.’
Here comes the ‘joke’ just to ease their confusion:
‘Yes, even after living here 20 years I still can’t get used to putting milk in my tea–only just getting used to having hot tea!’
‘Hahaha! Yes, you Americans and your iced tea! Now that’s what I call weird!’ Meant in a nice way, I can see, because she thinks we’re exchanging what we think is weird about the other culture. She thinks I think milk in tea is weird, but I don’t. I just don’t like the taste.
Now that coffee has improved enormously in the English speaking world–both instant stuff and the make-your-own-cafe-style-with-noisy-machines stuff, I also drink coffee sometimes. In fact, I love the dark, rich after dinner coffee served at dinner parties with cream. But only every now and then.
And because I have figured out what the British already knew, that the cold and damp can be fought with hot drinks I have learned to branch out and have discovered all kinds of herbal teas. When I was at uni herbal teas tasted like chemicals, but they too have improved. Everyone in our house likes hot drinks so I like to keep a selection and I love trying new ones. We have a really lovely cinnamon-and-other-things tea I’m enjoying right now. My 13 yo likes nettle tea and Tick Tock (Rooibos), the older kids like peppermint, chamomile, raspberry and sometimes nettle. Husband likes chamomile and peppermint. I drink green tea, but I keep black tea because the 16 yo boy and oldest daughter like that. And it’s for guests. We have both ‘real’ coffee and instant. Husband declares that real is too strong so we’ve taste-tested many instants and decided on one that we like best. Then there’s hot chocolate. Whenever I buy hot chocolate I put it right at the back so it disappears in two days instead of 30 minutes. That’s why you can’t see it in this photo. And the mini marshmallows I keep hidden in a Secret Place.
And yes, the cupboard is usually that tidy. Not that all the cupboards in my house are, but this one has to be so everyone can see the selection and no boxes are forgotten at the back getting stale and flavourless.
For someone who never really liked hot drinks growing up, I never imagined I would have a whole cupboard of them!
What hot drinks do you keep on hand?