Last night was a tough night in the parenting trenches. We’re waiting for little A-Rex to sleep through the night and last weekend he almost did it, going from 10:30 to 5:30am without a feed. If you don’t have kids, this probably sounds awful. If you have kids, this is bliss. But then, probably because he’s only just turned 8 weeks old, he realised he probably still needs food at 3:30. Waking up in the middle of the night every night is tough, and it’s even tougher when your little dinosaur likes to spend an hour snorting and stirring in his sleep.
So last night, MR said he would have A-Rex, and I could have a blissful night of uninterrupted sleep–until the Feliciraptor woke up as early as 6. Still, as I’ve covered: bliss.
Except I got insomnia. Despite being exhausted, my body is trained to wake at freaking 3 am, and when I heard my 8 week old dinosaur crying and snuffling, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I should be doing something. Worse still, A-Rex was very fretful, and MR wide awake too. Needless to say, we were exhausted. My very kind sister-in-law agreed to have the kids this afternoon, but still, after they were asleep, I needed something warm and comforting to unwind.
So I reached for the kettle.
Growing up in America, my knowledge of tea was that the English were obsessed with it. I didn’t really get it. I liked iced tea, especially sweet tea, but hot tea I could take or leave. My parents would sometimes make pots of loose leaf tea with a fancy infuser pot, and they would drink it black. Sometimes I would have a cup, with some sugar. I can still taste the watery, anemic blend Lipton uses.
On my second trip to England I had afternoon tea at the Savoy. As it was a very posh hotel, the waiter pours your tea for you, and he offered to pour milk in my tea. I put my hand over the cup, equal parts mystified and repulsed by the idea (remember, all I knew of tea was Lipton). I sipped at my black tea for formality’s sake, but I was far more interested in the food.
Even when I got to know British people and was taught the correct way to drink tea (i.e. with milk, and proper tasting tea), I was a bit weirded out by the dipping of chocolate covered things in tea, like Tunnock’s caramel wafers, or chocolate covered digestives. Surely chocolate and tea was a strange combination? So I ate my digestives dry and didn’t think much of them.
For a long time, I completely underestimated tea. I didn’t have any good stuff, and so I couldn’t understand why tea was such a comfort when you’re tired or wet or cold or in need of a pick me up; warming and cheering all at once. Now I drink Yorkshire Gold and know better than to order tea in the US–it’s either some herbal nonsense or Lipton. When I go home, I pack my own teabags. Obviously I drink it with milk–now I equate drinking black tea with drinking black coffee. It’s certainly possible and sometimes done, but only by a select few who have particular tastes.
I’m becoming assimilated. Tonight I reached for the kettle, brewed my tea in my tea-stained mug, and happily dipped my caramel wafer in it. The warmth of the tea melted the chocolate and softened the wafer and caramel, and the sweetness of the treat was set off by the mellow, rich tea. Coffee’s bitterness is stimulating, but tea hits a more calming note, particularly as I was drinking decaf. I get why the English are happy to live up to this stereotype.
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