I first started getting interested in tea when I realized that all of my favorite characters seemed to drink a lot of it. I started out making huge cups of exotic-sounding teas and throwing away most of it because I did not actually like tea. After a while, and copious experimentation, I started taking a liking to peach-flavored herbal tea, which had none of the bitterness of black tea and could easily be sweetened to the point where it started to coat my mouth in a peach-flavored syrup. Then I accepted mango passion tea into my narrow tea tastes, and my arsenal of sweetened herbal drinks slowly started to expand.
Sprouts has a tea section, and the holiday teas are especially delicious: Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride, an extremely weak and sweet tea that, surprisingly, did indeed taste like sugar cookies, Apple Cinnamon Spice, a strong tea that tasted like spiced apple cider, and Gingerbread, which was disgusting. Later on I picked up a tea called Bengal Spice, which was remarkably delicious.
And then, wonder of wonders, I found an entire store dedicated to tea at the mall. I was in heaven. I had recently gotten a pretty steady babysitting job (for my parents, watching my little brother, but I got paid twenty-five bucks for an eight hour day) so I was loaded. I ended up spending forty dollars on a couple of fancy teas and ten bucks on a teacup with a picture of an artsy, colorful owl on it and a tea ball.
Of course, those fancy teas were awful. One of them was called Gingerbread Spice (You’d think I’d have learned my lesson but noooo), and had things like popcorn, dried fruit, and chopped of cinnamon sticks in it. It was pink. Now, there’s nothing wrong with the color pink, but it was a decidedly ominous color for tea. It was sour and gave me that syrupy feel at the back of my throat that I had grown to hate. I don’t even remember the other one, except for the fact that I drank the cups of tea grimly, with a look of determination and pursed lips at the taste.
Those rather put me off tea for a while, since they were so disgusting and expensive, but I wanted some sort of caffeine so I started trying to get a taste for coffee at Starbucks.
The first one I tried was a Gingerbread Latte, because I’m a fucking idiot who never ever learns. It was as strong as a mighty mountain of spice and bad memories giving me a roundhouse kick to the jaw, so I threw it away after several determined sips, and vowed to actually learn this time.
A White Chocolate Mocha was next, and I got that a few times, always determinedly finishing the cup in an attempt to get a taste for it. Around my sixth cup of it, (Over like, a month) I threw a half-full cup away and announced that coffee was disgusting and I was never drinking it again.
However, I still wanted a drink to get at Starbucks, because it was within easy biking distance and also my mom went like twice a day, so, in a heroic return to tea, I tried the Chocolate Chai Tea Latte.
Jesus Christ in the effing Manger was that drink delicious. It was like all of my futile gingerbread hopes and dreams come true in a chocolaty, spiced drink. It was gone too quickly. I mourned, and looked forward to the next Starbucks trip with eager, slightly rabid anticipation.
Soon I was biking to get the Chocolate Chai Tea Latte almost every day, and then I got a box of the concentrate that they use to make it, which was a bad decision because it sent my already negligible self control through the floor. I was making two a day, bigger than the ones I was allowed to get at Starbucks.
After about a month, though, Mom held an intervention and I was restricted to two Chocolate Chai Tea Lattes a week. In desperation, I scoured the Sprouts shelves for Chai tea, in a futile attempt to recreate that holy grail.
Chai tea, by itself, was revolting. I got a few other teas, none of which were that good, and resigned myself.
Luckily, I grow out of trends quickly. I got tired of having Chocolate Chai Tea Lattes constantly, and started getting pastries every other day, with the occasional CCTL, like once every two weeks, as a nostalgic treat.
The not-so-good teas grew on me, slowly, especially when I discovered I liked milk with my tea, and soon I could drink a cup of Chai tea without so much as a flinch, and even some appreciation for the taste.
Then, recently, my tea world got an upgrade. Whole Foods has like TEN DIFFERENT BRANDS of tea. All of which had around ten flavors. HOLY CRAP. SO MANY CHOICES. I ended up getting a ten dollar container of Coconut Chai Tea and also a Rooibos Vanilla Spice tea, which is good but not as good as the Coconut Chai.
And then, to top it off, my aunt gave us a tea set, and I looked up proper ways to drink tea. (Milk in first, etc)
So now I have a lovely little cup of Coconut Chai with milk and a spoonful of sugar sitting beside my keyboard as I type, around half-empty, and a very cheerful, highly-caffeinated disposition. Happy endings all around.