• Carmen Marie Fabio

Tea'd off


As someone who has not had a cup of coffee in over 10 years, a recent CBC news report caught my ear and I wholeheartedly sympathize with the plight of the members of the Ekuanitshit First Nation who can no longer find their preferred brand of tea.

Parent company Unilever has decided to discontinue its ‘Prior Park’ Salada black tea blend citing poor sales and now the tea-drinkers of this 700-resident community on the Lower North Shore, who have loyally bought this product for decades, are scrambling to find a palatable alternative.

The mocking comments made by pseudonymed trolls on the website can only be scrawled by those whose very lack of civility guarantees they’re not tea drinkers.

What it lacks in caffeine - compared to that other morning elixir composed of hot water, ground roasted beans, and hope - tea makes up for by imparting a genuine feeling of comfort thereby making any bad morning just a little bit better. That goes for everyone in the house who all know that if the last drop of milk is saved for Mom's tea in the morning, no one gets hurt.

I didn't initially panic when not long ago, I ran out of teabags at the office knowing there were some stashed in the cupboard in the kitchen. What I didn't know, however, was that the collection of odd boxes and cans included all the strange hipster flavours like Earl Grey, green tea, chai, an abomination of loose leaves titled “noix grillées” and something called Rooibos. With mounting panic, I searched for a good old, basic, straight-up, missionary style, orange-pekoe teabag to get me through the afternoon rush, a situation remedied following a frantic text to our administrator who was able to talk me down after directing me, via cell phone, to a baggie in her desk drawer containing the good stuff.

I once had a coworker who was a sports fanatic, gladly handing over the bulk of his newspaper to me every day, holding onto only the sports section. And his explanation on the usefulness of organized sport in the world, “If we didn’t have sports, there’d be a lot more wars,” is probably the best one I’ve ever heard. In a similar vein, I feel that if everyone would just take a little break and put the kettle on, the ensuing ripple effect of the benefits would have to mitigate some negativity somewhere.

I have fond memories of visiting a family friend in the Eastern Townships, one of my mother's friends whose son owns a microbrewery and who was also adept at wine making herself. “Stop in for tea time,” she'd remind us whenever we were in town to visit my mom. The kettle invariably never got plugged in as we'd sample her latest batches of hootch and to this day, whenever my coworkers yell out, “It's tea time!” I involuntarily reach for the bottle Tylenol.

And while we all partake in the daily afternoon office tea ritual, I eschew the communal pink teapot in favour of the more intense brew with my own teabag that hangs out at the bottom of the cup to the very end.

Much like a good man, a decent cup of tea needs to be hot, sweet, and strong.

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