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Tea & Sympathy

For the last few years, I've had a tea backlog...

I couldn't tell you how many years. Some value of X that's greater than 5 but less than 10. I like tea, but it's not something one goes through very quickly. You buy it by the pound but consume it by the small-cluster-of-leaves. And as a life-long coffee drinker who would only have a cup of tea in the afternoon, maybe, a couple of times a month... let's just say I'm grateful it's shelf-stable.

The bulk of this backlog is actually courtesy of a family friend named Jessica. She used to work in a tea store and had an enormous backlog herself, part of which she donated to me while trying to clear out her place for a move (I think, I forget the exact circumstances). Not too long after, she passed away. Suddenly, in her twenties, leaving behind a grieving husband and a toddler. It was sad and shocking. But I would think of her fondly on those rare occasions when I made a cup of tea at home in the afternoon, scooping out a spoonful from one of half a dozen oversized tins with a hand-written label in looping pink marker.

And then the pandemic happened, and for the last just-over-a-year I've been working 100% remotely from my bedroom. And, like many others, I have attempted a number of self-improvement projects to try to get some semblance of control over my life to stave off the feeling that everything is out of control. One of them that stuck: I quit drinking coffee. I drink tea instead now. I don't have to wrangle and clean the coffee pot anymore, and I'm consuming less caffeine overall. Hooray. But I've also gone from drinking three or four cups of tea a month to three or four a day, meaning my backlog has gotten progressively smaller, even while I've kept buying new teas.

And then it happened. This week, I finished the last of the Jessica tea. And I'm feeling a little wistful about it.

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