I am an addict. This is true. But I am not an addict of heroin, alcohol, sex or gambling. Rather, the object of my addiction is tea. Luckily being a tea-addict is not frowned upon to the same degree as dependency on some of the above mentioned substances. This means that indulging in my addiction is not a source of guilt but rather something I have learned to cherish. Because, unless you take into consideration all the harmful effects of addiction, being an addict is actually kind of great.

Waking up in the morning I am not kindly disposed to the idea of leaving the safety of my blanket, but then I think of what awaits me. After the initial morning routines, I will bring a pan of water to the boil and pour it into the mug my sister brought me from Canada. Inside the mug a teabag and a generous helping of sugar await the arrival of the water, so that together they can create the magic brew called tea. As I pour the water, streaks of warm colour swirl out from the tea-bag and ephemeral streamers of steam rise from the cup, curling around each other as they evaporate into the morning air. The gentle refreshing aromas of Earl Grey waft through the room and already this hint of tea makes me feel more human. Perhaps I will survive the morning after all? I always drink my tea with milk, and therefore my final act is to drown the rich colour of the tea with a splash of milk, turning the contents of the mug a warm off-white. As I take the mug between both hands the warmth spreads into my arms in pleasurable shivers, and continues into the into the rest of me, melting away the early morning crankiness that tends to make me quite the little monster in the mornings. I slowly bring the mug close to my face breathing in the enticing aromas of black tea and bergamot. The first sip brings a sweet relief as my body thanks me for giving it what it has been longing for all morning. Then the sweet comforting taste of the tea reaches my brain and I thank any gods out there for giving me my addiction.

And this is just the first cup of tea. How would I survive a long day at work without the comfort of my tea? In the office I drink my tea from a large mug given to me by my colleagues as I left my previous job. It is decorated with all their signatures and I am grateful to them for knowing me well enough to give me this perfect present. The tea at work does not stand up to the quality of my tea at home, however. At home I store my teabags in metal containers to prevent the loss of aromas and the milk in the office is UHT milk – yuck! But still, tea is my consolation through all the day’s trials and tribulations.

I am a tea addict in general but an Earl Grey addict in particular. A British colleague of mine recently told me he never drinks Earl Grey because it is ‘the tea of posh people’. I suppose my love of Earl Grey stems from this very fact. During my childhood my family was not particularly wealthy and as a consequence the tea at home was always the cheapest kind. But in the summer we would go to the vacation house owned by my grandfather, and there the tea served was always Twinings Earl Grey. Still today, after years of drinking Earl Grey throughout the day, there are moments when the smell of it brings me back to those blissful days of summer. I suspect that my enduring love for this particular blend is connected to those memories.

If any real tea lovers are reading this blog and have managed to follow me this far, I know that they have several objections to my tea drinking habits. Not only do I make my tea with bags but I add both milk and sugar into Earl Grey! And how can I call myself a tea lover and drink a common brand like Twinings, found in any old supermarket?

I know my tea habits are not to everybody’s taste, but in the end there is no right or wrong to drinking tea. And as an addict I will even jump at the chance of a cup of faded Lipton Yellow label served in a cafe with coffee cream (extra big yuck!) when I need my fix.

For more information about tea-addiction you can check out these links:

Caffeine addiction and tea on livestrong.com

Confessions of a tea addict by Alexander McCall Smith (The Observer, Sunday 31 January 2010)

A Story About Tea Addiction on Kid In The Front Row Film Blog