HEARTH MAGAZINE POST AND AN UPDATE
WHILE I work on new content for this website (a new podcast, art commissions, reviews, articles and more) I'm going to re-post a number of old pieces of mine that have been published over the past eight years or so. To start things off, here's an article I wrote for American publication Hearth Magazine in 2014, discussing the relationship between caffeine and creative productivity.
I should really amend the article, as my tea addiction of old has since yielded to a debilitating reliance on coffee. See, back in 2014 when I first wrote this, I was an innocent features writer with optimism, not a news journalist with an increasing addiction to coffee and ever-strengthening cynicism. You win some, you lose some...
I'll be back with some new content soon, right after I brew me up a strong long black.
WHILE MY TEA GENTLY STEEPS
If I could ever have a proverb tethered to my name after I die, I’d want it to be this:
“If you want to get shit done, drink coffee. If you want to get shit done well, drink tea.”
Tea is a staple ingredient in my house. Through the fog and haze of my morning stupor I’ll reach for the kettle long before I put my glasses on, the cups from my multiple brews the night prior littering the bedroom like little white corpses on the battlefield. I often forget to purchase toilet paper until the eleventh hour, and I keep forgetting to throw away empty shampoo bottles that decorate the bottom of the shower. Yet I will always remember to buy teabags. Earl Grey, Irish Breakfast, the classic Bushells teabag, French Earl Grey and green tea for the occasional guest that can’t stomach the dark leaves of Darjeeling. Tea is, really, the crux of my existence.
And I think this is a good thing, historically speaking.
The Boston Tea Party of 1773 only compounds this theory for me. The political protest that pushed back against taxes lining the pockets of politicians without fair representation of the new American people in parliament proved to be the catalytic moment that birthed a new nation. When protesters hurled crates of tea into the sea, ruining some perfectly good tea leaves I might add, they did away with what I would argue is a key ingredient for calm and concise thinking. Americans shunned the British and they rejected tea. The self-proclaimed leaders of the free world, America is a stalwart for progress and innovation. But, they also voted in Trump as President. And I wonder if perhaps more people had chosen to brew a nice strong pot of English Breakfast before popping down to the polling booth, that might not have happened.
This isn't to discount the strengths of caffeine. European coffee culture is not without its successes, and failures. The Italians pumped themselves full of espresso and biscotti before building grandiose buildings and monuments during the Age of Enlightenment before graduating to sports cars and a bustling fashion scene in the modern era. But also, the Roman Empire fell, and fell spectacularly.
Transpose this idea from empire-building to menial administration work and I think it stands up. When I was a university student, there was nothing better than an espresso brewed dark and strong to turn me into an assignment writing machine; a mere mechanical being equipped with the ability to spew out a vast quantity of rubbish writing and quickly turn it into something credible. But tea steadies the hand and calms the soul. It consolidates my thoughts and opinions, and the ritual of assembling the relative tea paraphernalia, boiling the kettle and steeping the tea is the perfect solution for writers block.
I drink coffee when I want to write quickly. I drink tea when I want to write well.
It’s not empirical domination, but it’s good enough for me.
*article first published in Hearth Magazine in 2014.