John Carlson: Only Tea to Drink? Yuk

Tea just doesn't cut it for a coffee person. Photo by: Nancy CarlsonTea just doesn't cut it for a coffee person. Photo by: Nancy Carlson

By: John Carlson—

Lately I’ve been drinking tea at my writing desk, which has been fine in every respect but one.

I hate tea.

OK, OK. Hate is a very strong word, as Nan always reminds me when I say things like, “I hate french fries without ketchup,” or, “ I hate it when my jockey shorts ride way the heck up,” or, “I hate trying to touch my toes.”

So let’s just say, I dislike tea very, very much.

The only reason I drink it at all is that I’m out of instant coffee. Also, the nice Black & Decker water heater my daughter Katie gave me a couple years ago sits just a foot away, and tea comes in those handy little things called teabags. Grabbing a handful of them from a box on the kitchen counter the other day, I ripped one open, dunked the bag into the boiling water and, after an appropriate wait, took a swig.

Then I hollered, “Geez!”

But it wasn’t a happy geez. It was a geez of despair.

Suddenly, spitty tea water squirted out my nose onto my keyboard. Grimacing, I studied the tea bag envelope with alarm. “Pomegranate raspberry green tea,” it read, as the intense sourness set my teeth on edge. “The vert a la grenade framboise.”

All I could say to that line was, “Say what?”

Sure, I knew some of the words, like “the.” But what was a “vert”? What was a “framboise”? And what did a grenade have to do with anything? Could “vert” be French for “guy”? Could “framboise” be French for “gushing out one’s nose”? Could this, in fact, be a French government warning to guys who hate – I mean, dislike – tea very, very much, that  drinking this swill could make it literally explode like a grenade from your nostrils?

That seemed a reasonable deduction.

Suddenly, my thoughts drifted back to the only tea I’ve ever found truly drinkable – Celestial Seasonings Morning Thunder.

Now there was a tea! Sure, you had to search through a bunch of embarrassing ones like  Sleepytime Honey, Cranberry Vanilla Wonderland and Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride to find it. But once you spotted that unmistakable box, illustrated with the pissed-off buffalo poised to stomp your giblets into the ground, you were in luck.

Beats me why this tea tasted so good. Maybe the teabags were filled with buffalo jerky. Truth is, it did have an essence of meatiness. Compared to that pomegranate raspberry effluvium, it was tea’s equivalent of drinking a Slim Jim, tea you almost felt like chewing. Unfortunately, much as I enjoyed Morning Thunder, I could hardly ever find it at my  grocery store.

But it got me thinking. Lord knows every other conceivable tea flavor is out there.

So if they could come up with a fine tea like Morning Thunder, why couldn’t they come up with another fine tea, like Morning Pizza?

Oh, sure. They had to watch it. There were probably roving gangs of unsavory tea creators out there, renegades whose sick minds envisioned creating truly disgusting teas like Pickled Herring Berry, or maybe Honey Bunions.

But if the world’s upstanding tea creators put their minds together, couldn’t they make tea that tasted like Hostess Twinkies? Macaroni and cheese? Blue cheese dressing? Pork chops? I’d pay good money for tea that tasted like Twinkies, mac and cheese, blue cheese dressing and pork chops. Maybe then a fella could even steep four or five teabags at the same time and practically sip a whole meal!

But I don’t know, maybe that’s too much to ask of something as insipid as tea.

What I do know is, sitting here at my writing desk, I just saw Nan’s car disappear around the corner, heading for the grocery store. Assuming she’s not going to find any Morning Thunder, I sure hope she remembers my instant coffee.


A former longtime feature writer and columnist for The Star Press in Muncie, Indiana, John Carlson is a storyteller with an unflagging appreciation for the wonderful people of East Central Indiana and the tales of their lives, be they funny, poignant, inspirational or all three.