Meet my brother…and his obscenely large dog.
If you’re no stranger to this blog, then you’ve read my references to them in prior entries. My brother is my landlord/roommate. The dog? Well…he’s just there – acting all cute and hyper. To my sibling’s credit, he is a casual tea drinker. I say “casual” because he doesn’t worry about things like seasonal flushes, nebulous leaf grades, or what mountain his oolongs come from. I, on the other hand, do take those factors into consideration. What I’m about to confess, though, is that my brother has oftentimes influenced my tea drinking routine.
I sort of hinted at this in a prior entry about chamomile. Through him, I used to have an affinity for the relaxing flower. However, my palate has changed since then, and now chamomile – to me – tastes like…well…floral-flavored ass medicine. No, I can’t think of a better comparison.
But back to the subject at hand.
Roughly three years ago, my brother embarked on a bit of an experiment utilizing a jar, some teabags, and simple sunlight. Before him, I hadn’t even heard of “Sun Tea”, nor that it was a southern staple. All that was required was a three-hour wait, then presto. The results were eye-openingly delicious. Crude but credible.
A couple of years later, we tried it out with a couple of loose-leaf sachets of Smith Teamaker’s Exceptional Iced Tea blend. The results were “like” iced tea but slightly different. A good different, I assure you. When Summer comes around again, we’ll probably do the same thing. And to those that warn against bacterial growth. Well…we Normans are rebels.
On a simple day back in…uh…I think it was November, my brother up and decided that he was not going to fall ill anymore. His magic solution to this “ailment” was an old wives tale – apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp. a day. Normally, he added it to his tea. I thought the idea of that sounded disgusting.
Then I heard about the nationwide flu outbreak.
At my new job, I hadn’t earned health insurance yet. Nor did I have the money to get vaccinated. While I knew green tea helped to curb colds and influenza, it wasn’t a sure-fire answer. So, in the early morning before work, I would brew a pot of something dark, and the third cup was always doused with a dash of apple cider vinegar. And guess what? I liked it. The stuff went really well with an over-brewed black tea. Somehow, the tannins and the vinegar made magic – not sure.
Brother-made naan on the left.
February is almost over, and I still haven’t been sick. So…I guess there’s something to the stuff. Score two to the bro.
Some weeks back, brother dearest and his girlfriend tried another experiment. This time, it was an attempt to boil a tisane of fresh ginger by the pot. I – at my tea-snobbiest – said snootily, “The best results come from using dried ginger.”
They politely entertained my pontification, but humbly disagreed, and went on with their experiment. That gave me a moment of pause, and I turned to the FaceTwitPlus-o-sphere to garner second opinions from the rest of the tea community. The results were mixed. Some said better ginger flavor was yielded from brewing the dried stuff, others were proponents of fresh. On a second go-around, my bro and his lady-love tried it with smaller cut pieces of ginger.
It was at this point I gave in and tried some. Small confession: I’m not a fan of ginger. At all. I went through a phase of drinking it every day but ended up with a wicked case of heartburn. That turned me off to most tisanes with the stuff. Same with peppermint. I could only stand blends with those ingredients if they were used sparingly.
My brother’s fresh ginger experiment was a game-changer. Sure, it tasted like ginger, but the flavor was more citrus-heavy than spice-laden. That and the fresh stuff was oddly cooling. Strange, considering ginger is normally a “heating” herb. The overall sensation was gentle, like a warm, relaxing electric blanket in liquid form.
Brotherhood Achievement: Unlocked.
My tea-snobbery was curb-stomped. I don’t know when I’ll ever learn to keep my preconceived notions at bay, but I suppose that’s what siblings are for. To bring you back down to Earth when you become to big for your beverage-y britches. Oh well…I did introduce him to Greek Mountain “tea” and Golden Yunnan…so I guess that means we’re even.
Oh wait, that’s three-to-two.
© Jason Norman