Tea Time

By: Caroline Rubach

In Buenos Aires, the afternoon is frequently spent in a street-side café sharing a merienda - snack time - with a friend. These afternoon hours sidle on slowly and sweetly through each warm sip of tea and sweet or savory taste of the small plate placed beside it. I cherished these moments. For the time that was embraced and enjoyed, and for the lessons that my tea cup taught me.

“Me gustaría un té, por favor,” or, “I would like tea, please,” set you up for a whole array of tea bags in a dark cherry wood box to be brought to the table for your picking. I often went with the warmer flavors: deep vanillas, fragrant cinnamons, and chai-like spices. On the occasion that I was craving a more bitter taste, I would choose the green tea blend. 

My tea cup taught me a lesson or two beyond the art of taking slow and simple sips, one at a time.

I arrived home to Chicago after living in Buenos Aires for eight months and my taste buds were taken for a chaotic rollercoaster. After the blander, simpler, lightly salted foods of Argentina, I returned to the high salt, higher sugar, and incredibly (sometimes over-the-top) rich foods of America. My senses were overwhelmed as I was hurtled back into the land of endless options of every food genre I could think of. This really occurred to me when standing in line at a pizza place called "Pieology," when I saw my friend put just about every ingredient available onto his pizza. Just because he could. 

It overwhelmed me – as it did, him, when about five minutes after finishing, he said he felt about ready to throw up.

I think of this extreme. Of having everything before me that I could ever desire, and I feel repelled. I feel pressure. And I foresee too much emphasis placed on things that don’t deserve it.

Then, I think of my simple cup of tea, in a small street-side café. My friend across from me. My sweet or savory treat beside me. And I feel peace in the sheer simplicity of it all.

This is what I learned from my tea cup: the sweetest things in life are those with the subtlest of taste, only enjoyed by those who are willing to sip slowly and smoothly, sensitive to the delicacy of it. 

Let's savor and appreciate the simple joys.